x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Diamond-covered cars on sale ... but if you have to ask cost, you can't afford it

A luxury car tuner is offering the latest in millionaire bling - a Porsche covered in crushed diamonds.

A test mould of materials that can be used on a diamond-encrusted car.
A test mould of materials that can be used on a diamond-encrusted car.

A luxury car tuner is offering the latest in millionaire bling - a Porsche covered in crushed diamonds.

Gemballa, a German company offering vehicle modifications, has devised a way of spray-painting cars with tiny flakes of the jewel.

"We know Gulf countries like diamonds and they like fast cars, so this is the perfect combination," said Hanno Heintz, an executive for the company. "We expect this to generate a lot of interest in the UAE - I would say that it would be a big market for us."

Mr Heintz would not discuss the cost of the service, saying that if you had to ask, you cannot afford it.

"We don't speak of prices," he said. "Most of our customers don't want to speak about money."

He also declined to say exactly how many diamonds were used.

The company is the only one in the world to offer the service due to the difficulty in crushing the diamonds to such a size that they can pass through the nozzle of a spray gun, yet remain large enough to maintain their sheen.

Gemballa is primarily a Porsche tuner but the company also offers its unique services for other cars.

"Like a McLaren, for instance," said Mr Heintz.

He said the company previewed the diamond coating at a car show in Monaco recently but so far had not received any orders.

A diamond-coated car will appear at the Dubai Motor Show next year, said Mr Heintz, after which he expects interest to pick up.

"We hope that this will eventually be a big thing," he said.

Car owners who want the diamond paint job should either ship their vehicles to Germany or buy a new Porsche from a dealership near Gemballa's workshop in Leonberg, just outside Stuttgard.

Gemballa is not the only company to use diamonds on products.

A UK company, Black Astrum, this year premiered the world's most expensive business cards. Each one, covered in 30 carats of diamonds, is worth Dh5,500.

The company's concept director, Sufian Khawaja, said the cards were first commissioned by a wealthy Middle Eastern family, "with the majority of our customers based in and around the UAE".

"Our cards allow our clients to leave a lasting impression," he said. "Our focus is certainly on clients in the UAE.

"Although there has been an economic downturn around the world, the luxury goods industry in the Gulf region hasn't been affected, from our point of view."

Another company, The Card Co, offers bespoke wedding invitations and cards using gold or diamonds. The owner of the shop, Ramzi Razian, said a diamond-encrusted car was a step too far.

"A car with diamonds?" he asked. "I don't think the UAE will be interested in these things."

Driving a car encrusted with diamonds was too ostentatious for local tastes, added Mr Razian.

"After the economic crisis, people here are being a bit conservative and keeping a low profile," he said. "They are still interested in luxury, but not the ultimate luxury. A car loaded with diamonds is too much for the UAE."

mcroucher@thenational.ae