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12 august 2019

luca_luterbacher_xx.pngAs a teenager, Luca Luterbacher began to design and manufacture single pieces and individual items for wealthy private family friends from Switzerland and Lichtenstein. In 2017, he finally invested in his own luxury trademark "Luterbacher."

Currently headquartered in St.Gallen, Luterbacher Diamonds is planning to move to Genf, located about 350 km in the south-west to be closer to potential customers. Since its founding in 2017, Luterbacher Diamonds has been manufacturing for the upper-class segment.

Here, in an Interview with Rough & Polished, Luca Luterbacher, Founder, Luterbacher Diamonds, explains his plans for the future lucidly, and rationalizes his thoughts… straight from the heart.

Some excerpts:

Please walk us through your business as of today. What type of jewellery does the company manufacture ... high-end, mass-produced or both? Please give us an overview of your present niche position in the diamond jewellery business in your country.

We do not identify ourselves with mass-produced jewellery.

Currently, we deal in three categories:

a) Our jewellery company, Luterbacher Diamonds produces high-end jewellery which we market to the public through our online shop www.luterbacher.com. These include our Python & Stingray Bangles.

b) We produce very high quality, but more affordable products, which are also publicly marketed… for example, our Deer Collection.

c) We produce high-end products, which are manufactured completely ‘one-of-a-kind’ on the respective desire of our customers and are not publicly shown or produced a second time… specially wedding rings, necklaces and so on.

We also have an international customer base and do not focus solely on Switzerland.

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                                                                                                                                        Image credit: Luterbacher Diamonds

How did you get into jewellery designing followed by manufacturing leading to business? Was it defined by entrepreneurial passion or inspiration from an inherent desire to design? Tell us how it all began.

Both, I'd say. I always had an entrepreneurial drive and wanted to build something. But I was also inspired by the materials themselves and the creation of the designs. I wanted to produce unique products with a recognition value.

I started creating jewellery designs during my apprenticeship. I then started to produce individual pieces of jewellery for people I knew. They came to me with a special vision of what they would like and a certain budget.

From then on I also wanted to produce my own jewellery line, which I offer in my online shop, as well as sometimes in pop-up shops internationally. And that's what I did. A little more than half a year later I founded my second company with which we are also active in the diamond trade.

From where do you source your diamonds? Are coloured diamonds included in your portfolio? If yes, where do you source them from? And, which lab do you use to certify the diamonds?

We obtain our diamonds from our partners. Our partners include top diamond traders and producers in Antwerp, Israel and Asia. But also, mine owners across Africa and large international mining companies. Yes, we also trade in coloured diamonds which we mostly source from our partner in Antwerp. We actually only trade in GIA certified diamonds.

Can a jewellery connoisseur recognize a Luterbacher from its unique characteristics? Of late any ‘one of a kind’ piece that you have designed and surprised yourself? Tell us about it…

Definitely yes! The last unique “Luterbacher piece” was a fancy coloured diamond ring… a beautiful platinum wedding ring, with a pear-shaped small pink centre stone and two breathtaking small blue pear-shaped side stones.

As of now, how do you plan to expand your business? Do you also customize for your exclusive client/s? Do you intend turning exporter, going forward? Your thoughts.

As far as our jewellery company is concerned, we are planning a new internet presence. Our customers can then also put together their individual piece of jewellery online. The special details can then be discussed with us personally so that each piece is perfect.

As far as the diamond trading sector is concerned, we are indeed flirting with the idea of exporting ourselves regularly and the connections are in place, however, this is not yet clear.

What is your client profile? Your focus would naturally be on High Net Worth Individual (HNWI). How do you go about marketing your products? Please explain.

You’re absolutely right about HNWI.

I often travel and meet my existing customers as well as new customers. But today, the internet presence and internet marketing are also very important even in the upscale segment.

Do your clients perceive your diamonds and jewellery collections as an investment vehicle or as pieces of art, to be cherished and enjoyed?

It depends. I would say the Luterbacher Switzerland jewellery lines are definitely considered pieces of art, to be cherished and enjoyed. While the unique Luterbacher pieces and the diamonds are both, they’re pieces of art, but definitely also an investment in their future and the future of their children and grandchildren.

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                                                                                                                                 Image credit: Luterbacher Diamonds

Currently, what are in high demand among your customers - whites or coloured diamonds in jewellery? Of late, prices of pinks and yellow diamonds are going through the roof. Are colour diamonds in high demand in Switzerland?

White and fancy coloured polished diamonds are currently equally in good demand from our customers.

Fancy coloured diamonds are a hedge against instability and are in high demand. I expect this trend will continue and fancy diamonds will become an even more popular investment.

Also, in Switzerland, fancy diamonds are very popular.

Looks like lab-grown diamonds sector promotions as non-intrusive on the earth, pro-environmental etc matches the millennial way of thinking. As a Millennial yourself, what are your views on lab-grown diamonds per se?

Yes, I read that over 60% of the millennials, would prefer to buy lab-grown diamonds. It's a hype, but it's not the real thing and it's not precious. Lab-grown diamonds can be produced endlessly.

Beyond the hype, just because of a similar composition you can't compare a synthetic diamond from a lab with a real natural diamond, which was formed over billions of years ago within our earth's crust.

Incidentally, I like the “Fake Times, Real Diamonds” campaign which was recently launched by the Israel Diamond Exchange.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished