A Woman’s Best Friend is Man Made

By Monika Khaled, the authorised distributor of Desert Diamonds in Singapore, a global brand of simulated diamonds.

Singapore is a dazzling world. I noticed that quite early when I first arrived here in 2006. Everything was sparkling – from the perfect manicured lawns, to the impressive high-rise office buildings and, of course – the women. Well-dressed, well-groomed and well “bejewelled”. I loved it, but I would never have imagined at that time, running a diamond business in Singapore myself.

My journey was pure coincidence; I have to admit that much. I worked in tourism for many years and when I followed my husband to Singapore in 2006, I closed down my tourism-marketing consulting business back in Austria. Like many expat spouses, continuing my previous career was not an option but at first, I did not mind. My plan was to do a sabbatical, as my consulting business back in Austria had been quite busy and tiring. But after being only a few weeks off the ‘business grid’, I felt my entrepreneurial spirit kicking in. I missed being busy in a “business way” and I also saw many business opportunities in Singapore.

While in the process of exploring new possible paths, I met a woman selling her diamond jewellery business. I always loved the look of diamonds, but never wanted to own one as I cared much about where and how they are mined. But Desert Diamonds, the company brand she was representing in Singapore, offered a unique value proposition: simulated diamonds that, because of their high quality, are indistinguishable to mined diamonds.

I found the idea of women being able to wear diamonds with peace of mind a very exciting business and fashion alternative. In addition to having a great product, this jewellery business allowed me to work independently and from home. Before launching into business, I had to educate myself on the differences of diamonds and was – once again – dazzled by the huge amount of information. After several weeks of research, I decided to go for it.

At the time of starting my home-based business in 2007, I was on a dependant’s pass but within a few days I was good to go.

Compared to other countries, setting up a business in Singapore was fast, easy and inexpensive and I was impressed.

To gain insight into the market and to spread the word about Desert Diamonds, I started to network and found tremendous business networking capabilities in Singapore. Networking organisations such as PrimeTime also provided me with support and feedback, which helped to balance the isolation of working from home.

I have just completed building my online store, which was quite a challenge but a very good learning experience. My plan is to focus on online sales and organise monthly jewellery shows. The concept of Desert Diamonds is to sell directly to consumers, reducing the length and complexity of the supply chain, which makes the product very affordable.

Our clients have been very receptive to the idea of giving back. A percentage of every purchase made through the website is donated to a project, Buy1Give1 to support those in less fortunate situations.

I meet quite a lot of women who dream about their own business or think of starting a home-base business to be able to better balance career and family. My advice is do not wait. If you always wanted to be an entrepreneur, just go for it. It is easier than you might think and it can be very rewarding, economically and socially. As a small business owner, you have to juggle several roles such as accountant, marketing manager and CEO which is why I highly recommend that you believe in yourself and be sure to do something you enjoy.

Diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds

There is a lot of confusion about terms such as simulated diamonds, crystals and conflict diamonds. Are they all the same? And how do they compare?

All diamonds are made from highly compressed carbon. They are all measured using the 4Cs: colour, clarity, cut and carat which refers to the weight of the diamond. Natural diamonds grow over millions of years, deep in the earth mantle under high pressure and heat. Volcanic eruptions bring them close to the surface. An impressive 50% of diamonds are mined in Africa, controlled by just a few big companies. The tight control of supply is what makes diamonds so expensive. The film “BloodDiamond” has shown us the reality of diamond mining and more women are aware about conflict diamonds that are used to finance violence and war.

Luckily, nowadays diamonds can also be grown in a laboratory giving us a great alternative. These are called synthetic or simulated diamonds. Diamonds that are colorless, flawless and cut to perfection rank among the most expensive. Most simulated diamonds fall into this class and as they are grown in a sophisticated laboratory, they are then hand-cut with the same techniques as mined diamonds to obtain the diamond sparkle that lasts forever. Simulated diamonds remain significantly cheaper than natural diamonds regardless of the carat.

Crystals are glass that has been treated with lead to make it reflect light better. The 4CS are not used to measure crystals and unlike diamond,crystals shatter easily.