Luxury jewellery brands are vying for attention at the annual Jewellery Salon exhibition in Riyadh. As David Pollard reports, plunging oil prices mean the luxury goods on display have an added glitter for Saudi investors.
It's black gold that's made Saudi Arabia rich, but here the interest is in the real thing. That, and diamonds. Saudi women spend, it's said, more than any other women in the world on their jewellery. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPRESENTATIVE FROM CHARLES OUDIN JEWELLERY WATCH COMPANY, MARILYN, SAYING: "The Saudi ladies are very important customers for us. They understand the high quality of the watches that we offer. They understand the nice designs and the special designs that we can offer to them. So yes, they are really important for us, and they enjoy our new designs every year." In total, the annual Jewellery Salon in Riyadh brings together over sixty exhibitors from 13 countries. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ORGANISER OF THE JEWELLERY SALON 2016, HAYA SUNAIDI, SAYING: "It includes all the international companies: European, Lebanese, from Bahrain and the important local companies. All of them have been preparing their jewels all year, because they know that Saudi buyers know a lot about jewellery and gemstones." There's less sparkle to the Saudi economy. Amid plunging oil prices, the kingdom was forced to go to international capital markets this month for the first time in a decade - to help plug a 100 billion dollar budget gap. It's seeking to diversify its economy - as, apparently are some of these customers. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ORGANISER OF THE JEWELLERY SALON 2016, HAYA SUNAIDI, SAYING: "Usually jewellery is an investment because the prices go up around 10-15 percent every year. The Saudi investor is very clever and knows the value of jewellery. So jewellery consumption is very high." Diamonds ... not so much a luxury then, as an investor's best friend. And as oil prices still struggle to climb to anything near their 2014 highs, the relationship is likely to last.