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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Oud oil blinged up to the max with some help from Swarovski

One of the world's most expensive oils has just got even pricier. Oud fans can now buy their favourite oil in decanters covered in 7,500 Swarovski crystals for up to $50,000 per bottle.
An expensive, but innovative way to sell oud oil. Courtesy Swarovski
An expensive, but innovative way to sell oud oil. Courtesy Swarovski

A perfumer has found a way to make one of the world’s most expensive oils even pricier – by selling it in decanters covered in 7,500 Swarovski crystals.

The bottles, which cost between $35,000 and $50,000 and contain 100 per cent pure oud oil, were launched at the World Luxury Expo in Riyadh last week.

They are the product of a partnership between Dar Al Oud, which produces oud oil from its own plantations in Thailand, and Swarovski, the crystal maker. The price of each decanter depends on the quality of the oil used.

“We had been talking to jewellery manufacturers about how to create some exclusive pieces for this market, and particularly for the luxury sector to set ourselves apart from the mass market,” says Andrew Steel, chief executive of the Treedom Group, which owns Dar Al Oud.

“The jewellery manufacturers suggested that we discuss this with Swarovski because they have a lot more product knowledge.”

Oud oil has been used for centuries as a medicine, incense and as a scent. It was mentioned in one of the world’s oldest written records, the Sanskrit Vedas from India, and remains a key ingredient of Middle East perfumes today.

It is very expensive – some oud oil costs anything up to $60,000 a litre – because it takes so long to produce.

It is made when the agarwood tree produces a resin in response to an infection with a type of funghi – a process which can take two to four years.

The resin is extracted from the wood chips using steam distillation.

The decanters on sale in Riyadh contained 750 millilitres of oud oil, a huge amount considering most people buy it by the tola, which is equivalent to 12ml.

“These are luxury pieces. We wanted to make a statement to the rest of the world. We have partnered with a luxury brand, this is a luxury product, and it is also exclusive,” says Mr Steel.

Dar Al Oud intends to produce 25 special Swarovski crystal decanters each year. It sold two bottles at last week’s World Luxury Expo event – the Wood and the Pure. Dar Al Oud is in talks to exhibit the leftovers at retailers in London.

q&a a certain air of exclusivity

Dar Al Oud may sound like a home-grown company, but it is actually owned by Hong Kong’s Treedom Group. Here, its chief executive, Andrew Steel, tells Gillian Duncan about the brand’s Middle East connections:

Who do you supply here in the UAE?

We supply most of the [perfumers in the UAE] on the wholesale side of the business. We realised that, and this was a few years ago now, they were buying from us at wholesale prices and then significantly marking up the products at the retail side. So we looked at ways in which we could capitalise on that but set ourselves apart from the rest of the market. One of them was signing the partnership with Swarovski.

Have you not effectively become a competitor to your previous clients by selling oud oil directly to customers?

We have pitched ourselves at the luxury side, whereas they are mass market. They buy from different countries at varying prices, and mix them together to make their own blends. Ours is 100 per cent pure oud oil.

What’s next for the company?

On the back of this we have got a lot of ongoing discussions with high-end retailers about the launch of our retail range, which is a range in the luxury sector in the 12ml to 15ml bracket, the standard quantity that people buy.

How much will they be?

I am not entirely sure but I think we will be up at the US$600 bracket per piece.

business@thenational.ae

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