Ask Roxane: Investing In Luxury Brands

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Jun 12 2017 / 14:59 PM

Sixty-something Roxane Zand, deputy chairman of the Middle East at Sotheby's, has made it to the top of her profession as a Middle Eastern mother and mentor. Sharing her wealth of life experience, Iran-born, Harvard- and Oxford-educated Roxanne answers Bazaar readers' questions on love, life and luxury

Ask Roxane: Investing In Luxury Brands
Heath Cooper
Roxane wears: Vintage Lanvin Dress, Dhs2,360; Balenciaga Haute Couture Jacket, Dhs7,025, both at at William Vintage.

I have recently acquired some money that I wish to invest sensibly but on something more interesting than stocks or bonds. I’d like some guidance, or rather inspiration...

A girl’s best friend is of course diamonds, and the recent Sotheby’s sale of the Apollo and Artemis diamonds becoming the most valuable earrings ever sold at auction, just goes to show that it’s a steady best friend, not a fickle one! Pink diamond prices have tripled over the past 15 years, with current prices of diamonds overall rising by 15 per cent a year. A good diamond is considered a great investment not only because it is beautiful, portable, indestructible and can be handed down from one generation to another, but it also often commemorates a special occasion, bringing glamour to your entire wardrobe. You can’t go far wrong with a lovely piece of diamond jewellery, but as always buy the best that your budget can allow. A fine but smaller diamond is preferable to a more showy one of lower quality. If you are not a jewellery fan, high quality watches are increasingly bought by women who are beginning to appreciate the value of a rare timepiece. A friend of mine recently received an unexpected windfall. She decided on finding an iconic work of art, something that she would love and cherish and look upon every day. She researched her options carefully, studying art books to see what period appealed to her most. Then she looked at prices to see what falls within her budget.  She then identified an artist whose work appealed to her greatly.  Sealing the deal without delay, she is now the proud owner of a work she loves and whose value will endure.

Due to my husband’s work, we entertain a lot. I’m often stuck next to someone I know nothing about or have little in common with. Do you have any tried and tested conversational ice breakers?

My favourite ice-breaker is a genuine compliment. Every person has something positive about them, and although it’s harder for a woman to compliment a man, you can invariably find something nice to say about a man’s tie, his car, his gallantry or even his wife! After the first exchange, it is entirely appropriate to ask questions about what interests the other person, whether they have children, and what shared annoyances you may have. Who doesn’t enjoy complaining about bad traffic, for example? Or unseasonal humidity? If you start from the assumption that every person can be interesting in the right context, and that we all love to talk about ourselves, you will invariably be able to draw out the person. Topics that everyone seems to find non-controversial and stimulating include the importance of education, the need to preserve the environment, and the uncertainty of our times. Controversial subjects include women’s driving, the merits of politicians, and whether dogs are better than cats! If you can gently steer the conversation into any of the safe zones, you will be able to chat for the duration of dinner without mishap. Of course you do need to have opinions yourself! Don’t be a dull Diana and by all means occasionally liven up the debate by injecting another perspective. The art of creating a fun, lively dinner party is one of the best to master, and it begins by knowing how to relate to the stranger sitting next to you.

Left to right: 'Aquanaut' watch, Dhs627,000, Patek Philippe at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons; From the Outside 2 by Lulwa Al-Khalifa, from Dhs18,370, at the National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman, Jordan; Apollo and Artemis diamonds, sold for over Dhs210 million at Sotheby's

What would you like to ask Roxane? Post your question to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #AskRoxane

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia.

Stylist: Deborah Latouche at Terri Manduca

Photographer: Heath Cooper