Dubai-based Lebanese jeweller Mouawad designed the Miss Universe 'Power of Unity' crown

The Power of Unity crown is made up of 1,770 diamonds

When it was designed earlier this year, the Miss Universe 2019 crown was meant to "represent the interconnectedness of the world's communities". On December 8, it did just that when Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe by the Philippines's Catriona Gray, who placed atop her head the Power of Unity crown designed by a Lebanese jewellery house based between the UAE and the United States.

The family-run jewellery and watchmaker Mouawad was established in Beirut in the early 1900s, and this year partnered with the Miss Universe Organisation to create three crowns for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.

Pascal Mouawad, co-guardian of Mouawad, said: “Our creative journey with the first official Mouawad Miss Universe crown took empowerment of women as its key inspiration. This had to be a crown that was not only fit for a queen, but which carried with it a powerful message. It represents the coming together of women from across the world, united in their commitment to do good and to make the world a better place.”

Co-guardian Fred Mouawad added: “The crown’s name Power of Unity is a message to the world to unite in the cause of humanity.”

Tunzi’s crown features an intricate design of gold vines, petals and leaves crafted from 18K gold and studded with 1,770 diamonds weighing 167K. The centre stone is a staggering 62.83K shield-cut diamond in canary yellow, fittingly unearthed from a Botswana mine. The crown is valued at $5 million.

Since its inception more than a century ago, Mouawad has acquired a number of important diamonds including: the 54.21K round brilliant-cut, fancy vivid yellow Mouawad Dragon; the 111.11K Mouawad Kimberley Star; and the 51.38K, traditional round brilliant-cut Dynasty diamond, originally cut from The Romanovs, a 179K rough discovered in 2015.

The Dynasty diamond. Photo: Mouawad
The Dynasty diamond. Photo: Mouawad

The company has also collaborated on jewellery designs with celebrities including Heidi Klum and has accessorised Gigi Hadid, Kendell Jenner, Nicole Kidman Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Taylor.

Record-breaking pieces

Empowering crowns and precious stones aside, the House of Mouawad has several Guinness World Records to its name.

The Mouawad Flower of Eternity Jewellery Coffer, for instance, was named the most valuable jewellery box in the world in 2016, valued at $3.5 million. It features 542.39K of white and yellow diamonds, 293.24K of white and pink sapphires, 20.06K of rubies, and 1,799.75K of lapis lazuli.

In 2013, the jeweller created L’Incomparable, then the world’s most valuable necklace, featuring the flawless deep-yellow Incomparable Diamond, which was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1980 by a young girl. The necklace was valued at $55 million.

A third famed piece from 2010 is the Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse that, at $3.8 million, was named the world’s most expensive handbag. The heart-shaped purse, has 4,517 diamonds (105 yellow, 56 pink, and 4,356 colourless diamonds) with a total weight of 381.92 carats.

As the fourth generation, our job is to be the gatekeeper of Mouawad and make sure the company lives for the next [century]," Pascal told The National.

Four generations of jewellery

The House of Mouawad was built by Lebanese jewellery David Mouawad in 1908, and originally built intricate clocks and bespoke jewels for Beirut’s rich and famous. His son, Fayez, became one of the earliest jewellers to create gemstone-encrusted watches, as well as the one of the first to take luxury timepieces to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Fayez’s son, Robert Mouawad can be credited for sourcing some of the company’s most important diamonds, as well as for securing its international repute when he moved operations to Geneva in the 1970s, and then branched out to others parts of Europe, Asia and North America.

His sons Pascal, Fred and Alain now helm the retail, diamond and watch divisions respectively, operating between Dubai and the United States.