The Royal Jewellers S04 ep5 : Chatila Jewellery [London]

Interview with Marwan Nicolas Chatila

Established in the Lebanon more than a century and a half ago, Chatila is rare among jewellery houses in that the name over its doors is still the name of the family that owns and runs it. George Chatila began the business as a silversmith in 1860, whereupon his probity and skill made it flourish. It is the third and fourth generations of the family – Nicholas Chatila and his three sons, Marwan, Edward and Carlos – who now continue in the founder’s footsteps. Nearly fifty years have passed since the firm relocated to Switzerland. The move brought with it an abundance of fresh ideas and new designs that have proven extremely popular with the Chatila clientele. Today, Chatila’s flagship showroom in Geneva, in the Rue du Rhône, is a trusted venue for the discerning client who seeks a rare item of nonpareil magnificence.


It's a family business, we celebrated 2 years ago its 150 anniversary, its my great-great grandfather who started the business as a humble silversmith. Then we moved onto gold, and then for the last fifty years, we've been at the top of the jewellery world, dealing with important jewellery, rare stones, and design jewellery as well. 01.18

We have been here since the 1960's and we got into retail in 1980, where we opened our first store in Geneva Rue du Rhone and then we have opened here in London in 1987. We've just recently celebrated 25 years on Bond Street. 01:42

Geneva today is the head office. A lot of the manufacturing is done in Switzerland and some also in
Italy. I have one brother who runs Geneva, the third one is involved in design and sourcing, sourcing stones. 02:04

chatila yellow diamond necklace suite

I did not have a strong passion elsewhere to pursue so it was there, it was easy and I got into it
and fell in love with it very quickly. 02:22

It's a business that is, you know, that is an art and designs at the same time and it opens up your
mind to lots of cultures. One day you're dealing with an Indian, the next day you're with an
Arab, you know, the third day you're with a Jew. It just makes the world very small. 02:49

Mines in general, are producing less and less. Especially diamond mines which had activity since 1660 and every year, less and less is coming out. The finest sapphire on earth, they just can't be mined anymore. The mine is shut and all the sapphires, all
the Catherine sapphires you find on the market, are just circulating, you know, they've become like paintings by dead artists. 03:22

chatila yellow diamond ring

London is absolutely an International market and almost every wealthy person in the world has a
flat, has a business, comes to London more than once a year and it's becoming really, you
know, a world-wide shopping destination. You know, Geneva is almost entirely based on
visitors, and London is still the big city, residents are important clients. 03:53

After University in Paris, I went to the Gemological Institute of America where I
studied jewelry design, diamonds, colored stones. If you don't have the strong guidance from the
beginning, you know, you make a few mistake but you would believe you know, that's
the best way to learn is by making a few mistakes in the beginning. Overpaying for
something, meeting an important client and not getting sort of the full potential of that client, by being a little bit too young, a
little bit too naive, but my father, he just threw me to the lions.04:38

chatila sapphire  earrings

When we were invited to go to Brunei , I had just been in the business for a year and
my father sent me on my own, with a guard and I had to wait three weeks for the first
appointment but, luckily I had taken the book WAR & PEACE, which I managed to
finish. For an important client you take the best in your collection and then slowly, you start, understanding
what their taste is, what they're looking for. 05:09

We found the largest ruby in the world, 57 karats, the ruby, 35, certified by Gubelin Laboratory, it
was owned by a family in Burma secretly for 70 years and then , through lots of
hard work, we managed to buy it off them. That was around ten years ago. Another highlight
was a very important blue diamond as well. 05:42

chatila emerald earrings

Its magic, it's fascinating. It's as if, sometimes it's more exciting to buy these things, than when
you sell them. A lot of negotiations, sometimes you know, something is owned by various
family members so it takes sometimes several years, it's very difficult for people to
sell diamonds, even people who need the money, it's the last thing that they would sell. There
have been people who are very wealthy and they have to sell their assets after and
the diamond is always the last thing they will get rid of, you know, they will always get rid of
the second house, or the second car or the boat or the plane, but diamonds,people
tend to keep diamonds. 06:31

It's very rare that somebody orders something. Most important clients they just
happen upon it, it's luck, as the French say: "Bonne Chance", they just fall in
love with something and they just have to have it. 06:53

Stones, always have imperfections.Like rubies and emeralds, and a, I mean sometimes if stones are incredible clean, you just start asking why?, what's going on here.? In emeralds, the French call imperfections "Jardin", you know because it's a garden, it's not something that is perfect. 07:28

I remember a few years ago, we had a gentleman who,I found out later, that he was
going to every single shop on Bond Street and everytime he came ,one beautiful girl and the
next day he came with another beautiful girl and he was pretending that he was buying and he
would come to ask and negotiate, you know, ten million dollar business deal and that , he
would go to another shop and do the same. Take these girls with him and I think he ended up
going out with half of London by not spending a penny. 08:11

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Chatila Jewellery