In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, entrepreneur Tamar Abuladze found herself chatting with a customer of her jewellery brand. The client had a specific request for a type of jewellery that Abuladze didn’t typically make. This prompted a light-hearted thought in her mind: "Imagine if someone asked me to make wine-stone jewellery." She chuckled to herself at the idea at first, but soon found herself wondering: “Is this even possible?”
Already having a deep understanding of wines and some formal education in the field, Tamar was well-acquainted with wine crystals – potassium salts of wine acid that naturally form in Kvevri (traditional Georgian wine vessel), bottles, or barrels when the wine temperature significantly decreases. When she proposed using these typically discarded crystals to make jewellery, the idea was greeted with considerable scepticism – and even laughter – by the wine industry.
“I remember being angry first and then thinking to myself: it’s the 21st century, Elon Musk is flying to Mars, and how can I fail at creating this jewellery?” Abuladze said. Inspired by her husband's encouragement, she took to her workshop, meticulously experimenting with crystal-based jewellery to enhance its durability against water and various substances.
Three months later she had a prototype, and the brand Wine Diamond was born.
Wine Diamond makes brooches, rings, earrings, and other types of jewellery using wine crystals, giving immortality to each year’s vintage. The wine stone's colour mirrors that of the wine itself. For example, Rkatsiteli white wine exhibits a yellowish hue, while Saperavi red boasts a deep purple tone.
Once Abuladze started to create various pieces of jewellery she faced yet another obstacle – in Georgia, no one was familiar with the concept of wine stones.
“When crafting a unique product without any counterparts, not only in Georgia but worldwide, attracting clients becomes a daunting task,” Abuladze says. “First, you must earn their trust, and then you must persuade them of the reasons behind investing in these higher-priced products.”
Leveraging her already-established reputation in the jewellery industry through her initial venture, Emocia Handmade Jewellery, Abuladze successfully secured her first few clients. Word-of-mouth recommendations quickly circulated, leading to significant coverage by the Georgian media.
"We aspire for Wine Diamond to serve as an ambassador, showcasing Georgia as the birthplace of wine to the world,” Abuladze says. “Wine, to us, is more than just alcohol; it embodies philosophy and emotion. It's a living organism that communicates volumes without uttering a word. My objective is to encapsulate the rich history of winemaking in Georgia within the essence of our jewellery pieces."
Wine Diamond products are now reaching beyond Georgia’s borders with the help of a project between Eurochambres and EU4Business. The EU4Business: Connecting Companies (EU4BCC) initiative, funded under the EU4Business program of the European Union, strives to foster sustainable economic development and job creation in EaP countries by facilitating the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Focused on bio-food, the creative industries, textiles, tourism, and wine, the project facilitates collaborative efforts between Business Support Organizations and SMEs from Georgia through networking meetings, B2B meetings, training sessions, fairs, and experience sharing.
In May 2023, Abuladze participated in an exchange programme to Italy, where she was hosted by the renowned wine critic Carmelo Sgandurra. During her stay, Abuladze collaborated with him in promoting her products, engaging with people, and establishing new ties in the wine industry across Italy. She got an order for pomegranate brooches from an Italian company that wanted to send gifts to their corporate clients.
The entire experience also included conducting market research and delving into the purchasing behaviour of Italians, a nation she perceives as akin to Georgians – both make purchases based on emotions, she says.
"It was a highly educational experience for me," she says. "Through this exchange programme, I identified gaps and mistakes in my own company that I hadn't previously recognized."
Initially, Abuladze believed that her products would primarily resonate with older generations, who typically favour bold and chunky jewellery. However, recent market research revealed that her main clientele consists of young, adventurous individuals with a penchant for innovation who prefer smaller, more delicate pieces.
She made design changes to her collections that have resulted in about a 30% increase in sales since May.
Abuladze's next move involves opening an office and showroom for her four brands, including Wine Diamond. The showroom caters to customers who prefer selecting jewellery in person rather than online. With the office, the focus will be on creating a comfortable and innovative space with designated areas for creativity and reading. Simultaneously, Abuladze is starting the complete digitalization of all her brands. This strategic investment aims to ensure that customers have a pleasant online experience when acquiring their desired pieces.
“I want to have a company where both employees and customers are happy,” Abuladze says.
“The same way I am happy by doing the work I love the most.”