Cover Saagar Mehta, director of marketing at Infiniti Jewels

Saagar Mehta of Infiniti offers a look into Infiniti Jewels’ raison d'etre: investment grade gems

Rare gems are often seen as heirloom pieces that are passed down through the generations. Infiniti Jewels, however, has a different perspective: with the right qualities, gemstones aren’t just suitable for jewellery, but also perfect as investment vehicles. To that end, the brand’s co-founders, brothers Saahil and Saagar Mehta, have worked to develop an ecosystem around the buying and selling of—as well as the appreciation for—investment grade gems. Saagar Mehta, director of marketing at Infiniti Jewels, talks to Tatler about this growing market.

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How did this idea of trading investment grade gemstones come about?

When we launched the brand in 2013, we wanted to focus on three different segments. One was customised engagement rings. Another was fine jewellery. The third, investment grade gems, came about because we wanted to build long-term relationships with our clients, and offer them long-term value when they choose to work with us.

One of the misconceptions that many people still have today is that gems are not considered an investment. But if you do buy an investment grade gem from us, and see its value appreciating yearly by 30, 35 per cent, there’s a feel-good factor, and it makes you want to return to us to view other gems. That’s the kind of value we want to deliver. Then there is the information, guidance, and education that we can provide as experts, of course, which is also long-term value, but in another form. We don’t want the relationship to end after a single transaction.

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You’ve built an ecosystem to create this market for investment grade gems, and Infiniti Jewels is at its centre.

We sell investment grade gems directly to our clients, of course, and also provide appraisal services for these pieces any time they need it. When a client is satisfied with the valuation of a gem, they can then choose to liquidate that particular investment. 

There are platforms like auction houses, but many of our clients choose to do so through us. What we’ll do is take these pieces on consignment, then showcase them at the private gem appreciation sessions that we host. The sessions are held two to three times every month, and done with different partners including private banks, wealth and asset management firms, as well as luxury car and superyacht brands. Through these partners, our clients will have the opportunity to sell their pieces to a specific profile of buyers.

Beyond these event-driven opportunities to find a potential buyer, we also hold private viewings in our office. There’s a demand on this front simply because we are already known for our access to investment grade gems. This basically sums up the ecosystem that we’ve built over the past seven to eight years.

What about investment grade gems that a buyer later chooses to set into a piece of jewellery? Are the values of such pieces affected in any way?

Some clients like to set their gems and flaunt them, others like to keep them in boxes. The thing is, gems don’t depreciate after they’ve been set. In fact, when you wear it, more people are going to become aware of it, and know that this kind of gem with this sort of quality exists.

I'll give you a story that illustrates this. There was a lady who had a blue diamond, which she set into a ring. It was beautiful, nicely set, and she wore this ring to an event. One of her friends really liked the piece, and the lady ended up selling that blue diamond to her friend. Anecdotes like these go to show that the opportunity might not just come from us at Infiniti Jewels. When you wear your gems, you’re always surrounded by people of similar status, and this network also presents opportunities for you to liquidate your assets.

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What’s the entry point like for a person who’s considering investment grade gems?

It depends on the person’s appetite. I always advise clients to approach investment grade gems like how they approach investments into companies.

You can, for example, invest in start-ups. The cost to enter is usually lower because your risks are higher, but there’s also more upside potential. In this regard, start-ups are like tanzanites. Unlike other well-established gems, it was only discovered in the 1960s, and only found in Tanzania, with supplies fast depleting. Yet tanzanite’s prices are relatively low compared to other gems—investment grade pieces start at around S$5,000. These factors create a large upside potential, especially with the substantial growth in demand for the stone recently. In fact, prices have gone up 40 per cent in the past year.

Let’s move on, and suppose that you prefer to pay a slight premium to invest in larger, more stable companies. Maybe one that’s on the verge of an IPO. Gems on this “level” include emeralds and rubies. They’re very well-established, and you’re paying a premium because you know these gems are always going to be in demand. Depending on the specifics, you can expect year-on-year returns of 20 to 40 per cent for these stones, but you’re also looking at higher starting prices of around S$20,000 for an investment grade piece.

The final category of companies will be those that have gone IPO, or maybe even become blue chips. They have already made it. These are the coloured diamonds, which you will be paying a huge premium for. Investment grade examples of these will start at S$50,000.

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If we continue this analogy, you’re basically the investment advisor here. How exactly do you keep your fingers on the market’s pulse, since there aren’t any tools or services like Bloomberg?

We have a lot of industrial knowledge for a start, and we have a diamond- and gem-cutting business in India that lets us look into how things are going. Through our liaison with mines and other cutters, we also have information about how much rough has been purchased. This is all information that isn’t publicly available in real time.

You could google “two carat fancy intense pink diamond” and you’d get a gauge of historical prices. Or you could get reports on how much rough has been mined in a certain period, how much was then cut and how much went into the market subsequently. But it’s all past information, and it’s all just a gauge.

Which makes it a challenging part of running your business.

That is definitely one of the challenges. We’ve also had clients ask, “What guarantee can you give me that you’ll be able to sell my investment at a profit?” No one is able to give guarantees like that, whether you’re buying gems or a company’s equity. It’s a challenge to address this sometimes, but we mitigate this risk with our guarantee: if you are unable to liquidate your investment grade gem but need to sell it urgently, then we’ll buy it back at the price you paid for it. So even in the worst case scenario, you will not lose money. We give that minimum threshold to our clients because we have so much confidence in investment grade gems, and it gives our clients that comfort to trust us and work with us.

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