A Jewel of a Family Business

“Growing up in a family business was never easy as expectations were high,” says YPO member Amit Dhamani, CEO of Dhamani Jewels, about his early years in the family business started by his father in Jaipur, India, in 1969. “People think it’s easy, but it’s the other way around. There was a lot of hard work and high benchmarks set for me by my father.”

Born in the Indian city known for its skilled artisans, Dhamani had an early fascination of gems. “I would go up to my father’s office to hold and admire different stones,” he recalls. By the age of 14, Dhamani joined the business as an intern and would spend the next four years learning every aspect of the business.

Global expansion

In 1990, Amit Dhamani and his father decided the company should expand its product line beyond emeralds and opened an office in Bangkok, Thailand, which provided better access to sourcing colored gemstones from local mines. A few years later, the company expanded again, from selling loose diamonds to manufacturing jewellery.

Following economic uncertainty due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis affecting Thailand, the business moved their headquarters to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “We were among the first loose diamond and gemstone companies in Dubai. While we were expanding in the neighboring Gulf markets, my brothers, Rohit and Manish, had joined the company and were traveling to other markets ensure we were doing our best during the crisis in Southeast Asia,” says Dhamani. “My father’s travelling salesman mentality came through. He taught us to comb a market and understand where potential clients might be and where to spend our time effectively.”

Growing up in a family business was never easy as expectations were high.

Business growth paralleled the accelerated pace of Dubai’s. In 2001, to expand its brand, the company forayed into Dubai’s Gold Souk, the traditional market. By 2005, it had market presence in Dubai’s high-end malls. Today, while the wholesale business still derives about half of the business retail presence has expanded to 16 stores in the Gulf, with new international stores planned for next year.

Entrepreneurship, innovation in the family business

The company has ambitious plans to grow its retail business into a top global jewelry brand by 2025, with sub-brands to address different verticals, including the ultra-luxury and affordable segments.

“The drive to innovate while continuing the tradition of careful craftsmanship is part of the business culture,” says Dhamani. “My father was far ahead of his time, always looking for new horizons of growth, starting with gem stones from India, then in Bangkok moving to emeralds, rubies, followed by diamonds. Innovation and customer focus have been key to our company values since then.”

Setting a strong foundation for the future

Dhamani’s executive team is made up of Amit, his two brothers, Rohit and Manish, and the three brothers’ wives. All the wives currently oversee different business verticals after taking courses in gemology and diamonds.

“Communication is a key factor in our success. From daily huddles to structured meetings, we are able to discuss our performance, goals, and adjustments needed, ensuring alignment while bringing different perspectives,” says Dhamani,

With his brothers, he still continues to invest time in executive higher education in line with the group’s value for innovation, while surrounding himself with trusted professional consultants and managers. Dhamani adds, “For the next generation, we are putting in place a good structure and trying to pass on our values as a family and as a business, including a sense of bold innovation that has helped get us where we are today.”

Dhamani Jewels is a global affiliate partner of YPO, offering exclusive offerings and privileges to members. This year members can also connect with Dhamani at the 2019 Cape Town Global Leadership Conference and YPO EDGE where the brand will be showcasing their high-end jewels in the Venture Marketplace.

Rola Tassabehji is a writer and content marketing specialist with background in global brand management experience at Unilever and higher education at INSEAD. She is passionate about sharing stories of accomplished business leaders and has been interviewing chief executives and thought leaders from around the world for the past eight years.