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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Day in the Life: Dubai Rocks jeweller stays connected

The Dubai Rocks founder, who set up his bespoke jewellery business after his wife lost her engagement ring, says his business grows by 30 per cent in the run up to Valentine's Day.
Fergus Appleton, the owner of Dubai Rocks, started his business when his wife lost her engagement ring and they had to save for three years to afford a replacement. Reem Mohammed / The National
Fergus Appleton, the owner of Dubai Rocks, started his business when his wife lost her engagement ring and they had to save for three years to afford a replacement. Reem Mohammed / The National

Fergus Appleton is the founder and chief executive of Dubai Rocks, a hybrid online diamond jeweller and the UAE’s only British jeweller. The 38-year-old set up the business three years ago after his wife lost her engagement ring on the London Underground. While hunting for a replacement, he realised there was a gap in the UAE market for an online business sourcing diamonds and creating bespoke jewellery. The former head of a facilities management company in Dubai, moved to the UAE 10 years ago and lives in Jumeirah Park with his wife and two daughters ages five and two.

5:30am

I wake up and check my WhatsApp messages. Most of our clients like to communicate via the app and due to our international client base, I’m receiving messages around the clock. I reply to any outstanding queries and start getting ready for the day ahead. Getting dressed is easy, I mostly always wear jeans and a shirt.

6:30am

I get my kids up and ready for school. I help with the getting-dressed process and breakfast, then I drop my eldest daughter at school.

7:45am

My office is located in the Jewellery and Gem Complex between JLT and Ibn Battuta. The early part of the day is quiet on the merchandiser and supplier front as those guys don’t start work until around 10am. So I go through all my admin and emails, check the analytics on the website, the market prices and the gem prices. I check in with our SEO and Google ad agencies and make sure we’re hitting the right customer targets. I decided to launch the business online as it was more cost-effective. While we are online and that’s our showroom – we mostly see clients in our office.

10am

Now the industry is up and moving, I’ll check on the progress of the pieces we’re working on in the workshop and ensure we’re hitting client deadlines. We might have a customer stopping in Dubai for only a few hours on his way to an exotic destination where he’s planning to propose, so have to make sure the piece is ready. We make provision for airport deliveries if the customer isn’t here long enough to leave the terminal. The idea for the business came after my wife lost her engagement ring on the London Underground. It took three years to save for the replacement, which was bought in Dubai. When I saw how amazing the price was compared to the UK, the seed was planted.

11am

I check in with our diamond suppliers and make sure we have enough stock coming in. The most important thing to us is the quality of our products and the ethical sourcing of them. My aim is to bring transparency and integrity to the diamond market in Dubai, and the sourcing of our products is key in helping us achieve this. It’s taken me a while to establish the business, as many jewellers operating in Dubai have been here a long time. We’ve not had much push back from the established jewellers as we’re still small in comparison, however that might change as the business grows.

12:30pm

I pick up my daughter from school and take her home, where I’ll grab something for lunch. Something light, but I’m not fussy.

1.30pm

Back at work, I visit our workshops in person. I like to be involved so I can report to our clients on the progress and make sure any issues are picked up.

3pm

I collect any finished pieces to take back to the office. I’ll then send pictures and videos to the client and post them on social media. It’s a great tool for our business and we’ve had some amazing feedback via it. Jewellery is such an emotional purchase, people really invest a lot of time and energy into it. At present we’re very busy with Valentine’s Day. Business increases by as much as 30 per cent at this time. For the most part it’s men wanting engagement rings ready to propose on the big day. One piece we’re working on is a Princess Halo ring costing US$2,900 including the 0.7ct GIA certified centre diamond. We’ve sold rings costing from $400 to over $150,000, though most customers spend $2,000-$20,000, with the average around the $5,000 mark.

6pm

I head home to the family to be with girls before their bedtime. They eat dinner and my wife and I will put them to bed.

7.30pm

My wife or our helper will cook dinner. My wife is Mexican so we eat a lot of spicy food, which is great. After dinner, I spend a couple of hours catching up on emails or WhatsApp messages. Being a start-up means I’m constantly working and never really get time away from the business at the moment. Even on holiday I’m always on the phone.

10pm

I go to bed. I might watch Netflix for an hour or so with my wife, my favourite shows lately have been Narcos and Gilmore Girls.

11pm

I sleep well and don’t worry about the business. When you’re running your own company you need to learn to switch off, otherwise you’d go crazy.

business@thenational.ae

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