Cheri by Maneemas believes in doing the best job for their customers, and in using the best material to create something to be cherished for eternity.
By Laurence Civil.
“We have been in the business 20 years,” says Somchai of Cheri by Maneemas, which specializes in custom-designed pieces of jewelry. “Our reputation comes from our non-negotiable resistance to compromise on quality. The process starts with the stones. It could be that the customer buys a box of matched stones or a piece of old jewelry they would like us to extract the gems from and redesign them into a new piece for them. ”
Somchai said two factors led to their getting in the jewelry business. “Firstly, my father was an importer of loose diamond and precious stones so we had a reliable supply of the raw materials,” he said. “Secondly, my wife – Onmanee — loves to design. She studied colored stones at the Asian Institute of Gemological Studies (AIGS) at the Jewelry Trade Center on Silom Road.
He said their business started very humbly. “We had our friends get interested in some of my father’s loose stones,” he says. “Having found those that they like, Onmanee would do a pencil sketch of how each of the stones could be set. Once they agreed to our proposed design we would make the exclusive piece for them. The creative process is virtually identical to going to the tailors to have a suit made.”
Having established that there was a demand for handmade quality pieces of jewelry, they opened their first retail shop in 1992 at Fortune Tower on Ratchadapisek. Later they moved to their current location in Zone D on the ground floor of Central World at the Ratchprasong intersection of Rajdamri Road. “Sitting at the crossroad of Bangkok, most of our customers find this location very comfortable to get to whether by car or sky train,” Somchai says.
How did Cheri by Maneemas carve a niche for themselves as one of the leading manufactures and retailers of handmade jewelry in Thailand? “It’s because we only use gemstones that are of the best color, cut, and clarity,” Somchai replies. “Customized jewelry represents 80% of our total business.”
Basically, this is how they do business. Once the customer has either bought the stones as a set or has brought in their own stones to be set, Cheri by Maneemas offer a complimentary design service. “Onmanee will make a pencil and colored crayon sketch outlining how she feels the stones should best be set. Once the customer is happy with the design concept, we then layout the stone using double sided adhesive tape to show how the piece will look,” Somchai says.
At this stage, he continues, “we will estimate the cost to manufacture the piece within a tolerance of + or – 10%. A part payment is usually made at this time with the remainder when the piece is collected or dispatched overseas.”
Cheri by Maneemas has its own manufacturing workshop where the setting of 18-carat white gold and either 22- or 23-carat yellow gold are made using wax casts by their goldsmith. The components of the piece then pass through the hands of polishers or setters.
“The only element of the manufacturing process we outsource is the rhodium plating because of the capital cost of the machinery involved,” he points out. “This process enhances the beauty of white gold and gives the piece a longer lasting more durable finish. The diamonds and colored stones are set to complete the manufacturing process and the piece is stamped with our logo of registered hallmark, which identifies it worldwide as having been made by us.
“Should a customer bring in an old piece of jewelry that they no longer like, we remove the stones and their old gold is sold as scrap. We would never use it to make one of our pieces as we can’t be hundred percent sure of it quality. The gemstones are then set in new gold by our goldsmith.”
“Our company name is made of two elements Manee, which means “gem” and “Mas,” which means gold,” says Somchai. “They are also the elements in both my wife and my daughter’s name. The Cheri in our name comes from the French for “love,” because of our reputation for working with heart-shaped stones; the emotional factor of our design, and which are less expensive than round stones. We use most South Sea pearls from Australia and the South Pacific complimented with cultured Japanese and freshwater pearls.”
It’s difficult to say exactly how many pieces Cheri by Maneemas make each year; it must be many hundred and could be close to a thousand. “Our style is most popular with Asian, Indian, and Middle East customers,” he says. “It’s complicated and intricate; using different stones, which can be seen as tad too elaborate for European tastes. But using the best cut allows light to come into diamonds and send out a sparkling spectrum of the seven colors the rainbow, “What we call the fire in the stone,” says Somchai.
More than 50% of their clients are regular customers, with the main customers being Thai and Chinese, with the Middle East being their major export market. Somchai says they are already serving some second-generation customers. “The strength of our business is built on the reputation of trust for high-quality, distinctive design, and competitive pricing,” he says. “An important factor is that the customer can trust us; we have built our reputation on this.”
When you go to Cheri By Maneemas for your jewelry, you are sure to purchase on a shop that is uncompromising on quality. As Somchai assures: “We do the best job for our customers; using the best material to create something to be cherished for eternity.”