First opened in 1990, House of Luxury began its jewellery-making empire in Sint Maarten. After a second store opened there, the high-end jewellery house opened a third location at Tortola Pier Park in 2016. For more than three decades, House of Luxury has been dazzling customers with top-notch service and an unparalleled selection of gold, silver, watches, fine jewellery, and investment gems.
Owner Sanjay Surtani learned the jewellery business from his father and grandfather. He would help in the store at an early age processing credit card orders, creating receipts for customers, wrap purchases or bring drinks to browsing clients. He loved helping out and received a modest allowance for his work. As he grew he watched the family-owned business carefully and began taking an interest in the jewellery-making side of things, allowing his creative side to shine.
“As a traditional Indian family, jewellery plays a huge role in our culture, festivities and everyday life. I got most of my jewellery when I was born, as it is customary to adorn your child, grandchild, niece or nephew etc. with jewels and gems to welcome them to the world. In addition, jewellery marks many occasions in our life, including memorable birthdays, graduations, weddings and so on,” said Surtani.
After graduating with a Masters of Science in finance from Birbeck College, University of London, Surtani had planned to work in the financial field. Then the 2008 financial crisis happened, and Surtani was convinced by his grandfather to work in the family business, even temporarily, while the crisis calmed down. Surtani spent a number of months in New York City and earned his certification from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the industry leader in diamond and precious gemstone education. A love for gems began as he learned about gemological chemistry and how rare they actually are.
“What many people don’t realize is that the beauty in gemstones actually lies in their imperfections. It’s what makes every stone unique,” said Surtani.
Soon after, Surtani began working at the family business in Sint Maarten and learned the ins and outs of running a bustling high-end jewellery business.
“When owning your own jewellery retail business, you are not only a jeweller but an accountant, marketing director, gemologist, sales directory and so much more. This is when I really started growing and appreciating all that came with being a jeweller. It allowed me to express myself creatively and this is what I enjoyed the most. Whether it was the marketing side of the business with ad campaigns, digital posts, tailored events or the design side, where I gained experience in making custom pieces from existing client gemstones or brand new pieces which allowed you to mark an important occasion in life. This is when I feel happiest doing and it’s what keeps driving me,” said Surtani.
Jewellery lovers come in many different tastes, but true jewellery devotees know the difference between “fine jewellery” or more mass-market pieces and what are known as “high jewellery” pieces.
High jewellery doesn’t have one specific definition, but of course, is made from the highest quality materials. From top-quality metals and the most unique and precious gems, high jewellery pieces are often custom made and not only hold their value but often gain value over time.
House of Luxury designs custom pieces for clients with every kind of gem and metal to create a truly personalized, wearable piece of art.
“There is so much excitement and satisfaction when you are able to create a unique piece of jewellery for a client as it helps them mark an occasion or a happy moment in their life. It creates a memory and an experience and allows them to own their own little piece of art and this, for me, is something that is priceless,” said Surtani.
In addition to custom pieces, House of Luxury also has curated relationships with major jewellery houses all around the world to bring the highest quality gemstones and pieces to their customers.
“We have a great relationship with all of our brands. Many are large global names that bring plenty of expertise and heritage with them. Many of the brands we work with are still privately owned and therefore have a family or personal feel to them,” Surtani explained.
Many of the brands that House of Luxury works with are environmentally sustainable and conscious. For example, just as there is fair-trade coffee, there is fair mined gold, which provides transparency of the origins of the gold. House of Luxury also has a due diligence process with diamonds, in which the stones are sourced through the Kimberley Process to ensure they know that every gem comes through legitimate channels.
Whether it’s dining with the Scheufele family (owners of Chopard) or connecting with brands that share common values and ethics, the Surtani family is committed to only providing the best to their clients and customers.
“When deciding which brands to work with and what products to source, it’s a very personal process. Falling in love with the brand, what they do, what they stand for, what their products are like, it’s something very special because the brands we carry represent who we are as a business,” said Surtani.
Watches and Timepieces
Although a niche market, high-end watches and timepieces are a must-have for many collectors and people wanting to make a statement with something they may wear every day.
“We offer different ranges of timepieces and mainly concentrate on Swiss watches. The Swiss watch industry has all the history, heritage and tradition that has made the watch industry what it is today,” said Surtani.
Watches have levels of complexity that range from traditional, three-hand timepieces to the “ultimate” in timepieces, the Tourbillon. When choosing or investing in a timepiece, Surtani wants people to remember that these are works of art, and the watch often “speaks” to its owner. Some watches take more than a year to create and are sometimes assembled, taken apart and then reassembled to make sure everything fits seamlessly together and functions perfectly. Surtani recommends taking a few different aspects of a timepiece into account when choosing a watch:
Heritage – Knowing the pedigree, know-how and expertise of a particular manufacturer can tell you a lot about the quality of their pieces.
“Take Jaquet Droz for instance: they have been around since 1738 and are one of the oldest manufacturers in the world. Their timepieces are extremely limited and most pieces are made in small batches. Their speciality lies in their automaton movements, which to put in simple terms are self-operating mechanisms that perform a predetermined function,” Surtani explained.
Scarcity/Rarity – The fewer there are, the more value they hold. Finding pieces that are created in a limited quantity or are numbered are always sought after by collectors.
Complications/Certifications: The more complicated a timepiece is, or the more moving parts it has, the more craftsmanship and expertise is required to ensure the piece performs at an optimal level. Complications are viewed as a watchmaker’s ability and innovation level, and many makers are always trying to improve their complication skills. COSC and Geneva Seal certifications both ensure that timepieces have gone through rigorous testing and offer testament to the accuracy of a watch’s timekeeping.
In-House – In-house movements mean that the actual parts and pieces of the timepiece are produced within the company and not purchased elsewhere. This aspect is important as it shows the capabilities of the watchmaker and also makes the piece very unique to that particular brand.
Personality – Every watch offers something different and exciting and the piece must speak to its owner.
Jewellery is often seen as a “women’s” thing, but men like to look sharp as well. A high-quality watch is something Surtani believes allows men to splurge without looking too over the top or flashy.
“A good timepiece is a precision instrument which showcases a watchmaker’s talent and ability. It’s seen these days more as a work of art than just a piece of jewellery. Men enjoy working with us because of the range of products we offer: timepieces, necklaces, to different types of gold as well as stones. In addition, the custom design element is one most-used by men when they are making jewellery for themselves as well as for their loved ones,” said Surtani.
Clients may begin as customers at House of Luxury but eventually, become more like family. The Surtani family has built their legendary business on honesty and service. In addition to going above and beyond to make a customer happy, they guide guests through the process of choosing the perfect piece to suit each person’s needs and personality.
“Our goal is to offer more than just products, but to create an experience to mark the memorable day when you treated yourself or someone you love to something special.”
House of Luxury
Cyril B Romney Tortola Pier Park
Wickhams Cay 1, Roadtown
Tortola. British Virgin Islands
+1 284 443 3030