How often do we meet individuals who have managed to combine their passion with how they earn a living? This is the case for M. P. Ahammed, founder of Malabar Gold and Diamonds, one of the largest retail jewellery groups in the world. In less than two decades, M. P. Ahammed went from a young man who was reinventing jewellery retail in the southern regions of India to the creator of a global powerhouse of a company in the world of diamonds and gold. With over 325 showrooms across the globe, he is an inventive entrepreneur with a passion for diamonds. The Natural Diamond Council had the privilege of speaking with Mr Ahammed about his fondest diamond memories and what he has planned for the future of Malabar Gold and Diamonds.
What inspired you to pursue a career in jewellery?
The Malabar region of Kerala, India, from where I come from and where the Malabar Group was born, is renowned for its rich history of trade and commerce. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it was only natural that I would turn to trade as my chosen profession. It was the lucrative value of gold, both as an adornment and an investment amongst the local populace that first drew me into the world of jewellery. It was quite evident from the onset that gold jewellery held quite an exalted position in people’s minds, and we set out to capitalise on the sentiment by providing the folks of Malabar with a brand that offers them the finest jewellery without any compromise in quality and transparency. Thus began the journey of Malabar Gold and Diamonds and looking back, I would attribute the success that the brand has enjoyed to a combination of relentless effort, teamwork and good fortune.
How Natural Diamonds Are Winning Hearts Of Millennials and Gen Z?
We are most excited about how natural diamonds are becoming increasingly popular among younger generations. From solitaire rings to other statement pieces, the average diamond purchasing age is shifting from 30+ to a refreshing group of millennials and even Gen Z customers. This has inspired and positively challenged our in-house design team to create innovative and youthful natural diamond pieces that are fresh whilst wearable for a lifetime of use. It is a very exciting time creatively.
Tell us about Malabar Gold & Diamonds’ Collaboration with Mahendra Brothers?
Natural diamonds became of integral importance to me, personally and professionally, when Malabar Gold & Diamonds partnered with Mahendra Brothers in 2008. Mahendra Brothers is one of the premier manufacturers of natural diamonds in India, and perhaps in the world. This union resulted in the designing of a one-of-a-kind diamond jewellery brand named Mine Diamonds. With all natural diamond jewellery offerings, from bridal pieces to everyday pieces, it was our first foray into the world of this exquisite gemstone. Natural diamonds have ever since become one of the most distinctive offerings. This was the defining point for our business with natural diamonds.
How Is Malabar Gold and Diamonds moving towards a sustainable future?
A bright and ambitious future awaits Malabar Gold and Diamonds. As we celebrate 30 years of exemplary jewellery shopping and expertise, we are working on an aggressive growth plan which involves paving our way through new unexplored markets, as well as continuing to stay at the helm of the gold and natural diamond industries. We strive for excellence when providing our international customer base with retail experience. To continue to do this, we plan on increasing our retail spaces and establishing new manufacturing units as well as design centres. We have also taken great care to step up our ESG initiatives in tandem with our expansion, with 5% of net profits being set aside for philanthropic activities in every region of operation.
What is your greatest indulgence?
I live and breathe for my work and enjoy it thoroughly. Going on short and frequent retreats to spend quality time with my family refuels me with positive energy to accomplish the goals I have yet to achieve. Health, above all, is my top priority, so taking the occasional step back and focusing on what matters provides me with peace of mind and great joy.
What moment still blows your mind?
In a jewellery career spanning three decades, there have been innumerable noteworthy moments which warrant a mention and being asked to pinpoint a certain one is a difficult task. From our humble beginning in a remote corner of India, we have consistently strived to bring the best jewellery shopping experience to jewellery lovers all over the world. Even after establishing over 325 outlets in 11 countries, every new showroom launch is a moment of great pride and joy as it signifies our acceptance amongst the global audience and another step towards our goal of being crowned as the world’s number one jewellery retail chain.
What life lessons have you learnt from a career in business and diamonds?
Throughout my career, one lesson that has stuck with me is that making mistakes is inevitable. It is part of the process of becoming a successful businessperson. It is virtually impossible to get 100% of your decisions right. As business owners or as individuals, all we can do is do right by our ideals, learn from our mistakes and work hard towards our goals.
What’s next for diamonds?
I foresee an interesting dialogue between laboratory-grown and natural diamonds. The invention of laboratory-grown diamonds has caused a paradigm shift in the world of jewellery. The preference of individual consumers for one or the other depends solely on the value that they assign. I personally prioritise natural diamonds over artificial ones. Forged over thousands of years, each piece of natural diamond has a history behind its creation, one specific to shaping its personality that is impossible to replicate.