When Ukrainian businessman Yury Inyutin witnessed a car licence plate with nothing but the number "1" being sold for a record US$14 million (Dh51.43m) at a charity auction in Abu Dhabi in February, he knew the time was right to launch his 24-carat gold plating car service. So that same month, Mr Inyutin opened INGOLD, a company that specialises in plating car parts with gold, in Dubai. "I know that people here in the UAE like to have very distinctive looking cars and covering anything with gold makes it look appealing and gives it value," he said.
To launch the business, Mr Inyutin decided to gold-plate the wheels, grille, and side mirrors of his own 2007 Toyota Camry and sell it on Souq.com to the highest bidder. "This was the best way for me to get exposure and show people how they could transform their car's image," he said. The Souq.com auction ends on Aug 13. "The price I'm asking for is nothing less than Dh135,000," said Mr Inyutin. He added that his car's makeover would cost about Dh60,000 and take three days to complete, with the cost of covering one square centimetre in gold set at Dh4. "All the gold is brought in from Russia, but we still don't have the technology or the paints required to cover the whole body of a car with gold."
Although cars are the biggest portion of Mr Inyutin's business, he has also gold-plated a host of other everyday objects including golf clubs, water taps and fishing rods. "We also work with diamonds to decorate just about anything you can think of, from car logos to bathroom tiles," said Natalya Gorun, a partner and diamond designer at INGOLD. "All our diamonds are from Belgium and we sell the better quality and cut ones for jewellery. The ones used to decorate objects usually have less clarity."
Many of the company's clients come from the Gulf region. Ms Gorun said that an Arab client recently requested that the hood ornament on his Jaguar be encrusted with 0.2 carat diamonds, with the gems set into the cat's eyes. "That cost him about Dh4,380." A diamond-encrusted gearstick was another unusual request. But the company cannot accommodate all requests, like the one from an Arab client who asked for a decorative plastic plate to be covered with diamonds.
"Some of the orders we get are just extraordinary and in the case of the plate we told the client that diamonds cannot be encrusted into plastic," said Ms Gorun. @email:firstname.lastname@example.org