Rare Gems Jewelry: A Multimillion Naira Business Built On Bars of Gold

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It was her childhood dream to own a big jewelry store; she would pore over countless jewelry catalogues and fantasize away in dreamland. Thanks to an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep passion that tided her over rocky beginnings, today she owns a company popularly reputed to be Africa’s largest and most prestigious jewelry depot. She has successfully launched a Nigerian brand of jewelry into the global market, a first in that stead. Enterprise54 takes a look at a brand that is empowering more than a hundred people all over the country today and the brain behind it all, RG Talatu Olulana as she is popularly called.

Not only does the Rare Gems brand offer elegant jewelry backed with a money-back guarantee for the contemporary African woman, they also engage in the trading of precious stones on the global market, acting as brokers for investors that wish to maintain a gold and silver reserve or trade at spot prices. The business boasts of partners and distributors covering almost all 36 Nigerian states, and even in other countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, and India.

Talatu Olulana - CEO Rare Gems Jewelry

Talatu Ahmed Olulana – CEO Rare Gems Jewelry

The jewelry line comes in four categories: Fashion(RGF), Economy (RGE), Standard (RGS), and Premium (RGP). Prices and guaranty periods vary from one category to another, and each piece comes with a distinct code for easy identification. They are all however covered by the Rare Gems promise – ‘Every time you buy our jewelry, you get our assurance that if it tarnishes within the guaranteed period, you’ll get a replacement or a refund.’

Ms. Olulana pursued her passion while still schooling at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos, traveling to Benin Republic to buy jewelry that she resold to fellow students. She recalls that she had to make the trip every other day because of her meagre capital. Finishing school in the year 2000, she decided to take the bull by the horns – not to look for any job but concentrate on the business. With a loan of 5,000 NGN from her mum, she continued the business, “visiting salons and just about anywhere I could find ladies to showcase my wares.”

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The Brand
The RARE GEMS JEWELRY line was launched much later in 2008, featuring 18kt gold jewelry, gold-filled jewelry, gold-plated costume jewelry, sterling silver, rhodium jewelry and stainless steel. The line specifically targets African women, who love their jewelry “rich, detailed, and sometimes colored.” Getting such designs off the shelf proved to be not so easy, prompting a determined Talatu to start designing her own jewelry, making use of 3D impressions.

“In 2013, RARE GEMS GOLD AND SILVER – our precious metals arm was birthed to provide those seeking to invest in gold and silver a viable platform to do so. We offer trading at spot price, building of gold/silver reserve and valuation analysis services.”

Growth
Not resting on her oars, Ms. Olulana went on to become a UAE certified cast gold/silver bar manufacturer. She also trained at the USA-Hamilton Jewelry design Institute and today is a Certified CAD designer. She is a member of the International Jewelry manufacturers, designers and suppliers association among others. All great developmental strides are evidenced by the creativity and ingenuity of her designs, 70% of which she crafts by herself. All Rare Gems jewelry designs are inspired by nature and by the uniqueness of African women.

Challenges
After the launch of the Rare gems brand, it took another 3 years for it to make a meaningful impact on the market. ‘Breaking into the market was difficult because people could not come to terms with the fact that a brand of jewelry could emerge from Nigeria. They would ask if it was any of the foreign brands, but we would always maintain that it was a Nigerian-owned brand.’
The company’s gold and silver trading activities is yet to be fully explored though. ‘Precious metals trading in Nigeria is still relatively new thus the slow response, but we are not relenting. We would continue to sensitize and educate Nigerians on this critical aspect of investment.’

Sales and Production
The Rare Gems brand is distinct in that each piece is built for the African climate and the designs are dynamic enough to satisfy a wide selection of buyers. Due to local high production costs, jewelry production takes place in France with technical partners while raw gold and silver bars are fully cast in Nigeria. On production she enthuses, “We use metals and alloys like gold, silver, copper, brass, and steel. All of our jewelry are lead-free and we incorporate the best practices in production, allowing mainly gold-layering (gold-filled) and gold plating techniques.

In order to increase distribution and sales of her gems, Talatu and her team created a sales strategy that entails having registered retail partners and distributors all over Nigeria. She credits the internet – Facebook and others, as having been very useful in surmounting their sales challenges. The desire to empower people financially is the major driving force behind the partners/distributorship program. It has also helped reduce some of the challenges associated with purchasing goods online as buyers can easily connect with retail partners near them.

A Rare Gems Facebook advert

A Rare Gems Facebook advert

Joy Omoaka (Zanetabenny Ltd.) is one of such partners that came on board via social media and as a retail businesswoman that interacts with several brands daily, she had this to say, “In comparison with other brands in the market, Rare Gems keep to their return and guarantee policies and this singular factor makes them stand out for me. Combined with  the fact that my sensitive skin would not tolerate any less than 18k gold, and I have never had issues with the RG brand.”

Industry views
On the local fashion and jewelry industry, the accomplished jeweler believes there are a lot of untapped potentials, “We are progressing but a lot needs to be done. Nigeria and indeed Africa is the last investment frontier, we have an economy with huge potential for growth. The business climate is becoming more conducive with deeper entrenchment of democracy.”

Future Plans
“Our plan for the next 5 years is to gain full presence in the African market. We are also looking at setting up production factory in Nigeria, with improved infrastructure. At the moment, hundreds of people are being empowered financially through the reselling of our products and we plan to spread our nets wider to reach even more people.”

Entrepreneurship
Not having the backing of any financial institution, Talatu Olulana has gone on to succeed in the capital intensive business of jewelry design and precious stones trading. Her advice to new and aspiring entrepreneurs is this – “Never give up. Keep adding value to others through your business and shortly you’ll break through.”

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15 Comments

  1. Lawal-fagbo Kafayat

    June 10, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Kudos to you Lara Sanni. You really nailed it.

  2. Ammy John

    January 6, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Wow!! You have a an amazing collection of Jewelry.

  3. Dr Kenneth Orimma

    January 24, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Dear Madam,
    I am interested in introducing your product line rare gem in the Caribbean.
    Please let me know if you would like me to distribute your products and what is my projected start investment cost.
    Thank you, looking forward to your reply.
    Orimma

    • Talatu Olulana

      January 25, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Dear Dr Orimma,
      We would be very glad to have you work with us in the areas highlighted. Kindly reach us via email [email protected] for further discussions.
      Thank you!

  4. African Grandeur

    February 12, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Nice collection.

  5. Dagogo

    March 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Am so in love with rare gem jewelry..how do I become a distributor here in port Harcourt.Nigeria, Rivers state.
    Kind regards.

  6. Ummulkhair

    April 14, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Good morning,

    I was just informed about your product by a friend a few minutes ago,please where can i find your office in Abuja?

    Regards…

    • Talatu Olulana

      April 18, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Hello Ummulkhair,thanks for your interest in our products. You can reach our Abuja distributor on 08033363790.

  7. Jurgita

    April 19, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    My name is Jurgita Leitonaite and I would like to take an opportunity to introduce ourselves.

    AMBER BY MAZUKNA is one of the largest natural amber jewelry factory in Europe for more than 20 years. Our amber production is well known in many countries like: USA, Japan, China, EU and many others. People working in the factory have the highest experience and qualification in their field to work.

    Our products are handmade from the highest quality Baltic and Caribbean natural amber. Products from natural solid stones of Baltic amber can be in various colors: lemon, honey, cognac, cherry, etc. We offer Caribbean amber in green, blue or red colors.

    We produce:

    Amber jewelry and souvenirs: necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants, rosaries, tiepins, clasps, collars, brooches, etc.
    Half made products: polished loose amber stones, calibrated amber balls, cabochons, beads, troll beads, etc. – Everything to create your own jewelry.
    We are able to create individual design products according to your requirements.

    We accept custom orders (low or high volume). The orders are executed fast, maintaining the best quality available in the market.

    We would like to set up a long term cooperation with you. Please feel free to inquire for your custom styles, shapes, sizes and colors.

    Best Regards,

    Jurgita Leitonaite

    Skype: jurgita_amber
    Phone: +370 37 452580
    fax.: +370 37 351103
    https://www.facebook.com/amberbymazukna
    http://www.amberbymazukna.com

  8. Moji Akeredolu

    October 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I would like to receive your new arrival via my email. Please give me your last price. Thank you.

  9. Hauwa

    November 8, 2016 at 5:05 am

    I would like to make some purchase for personal use. How do I get them? I live in Abuja. Please, do get back to me soon.

    • Talatu Olulana

      November 11, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Kindly contact us on 09095628833( WhatsApp enabled) for enquiries

  10. Ajidele Nike

    December 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I was the woman that came from Port-Harcourt early this December, that wish to be a distributor in PH. I am serious and I will want to start before the end of January 2017.

    You told me the amount of goods to buy as distributor.
    Is there any thing you give to distributor, like registration, training, discount, profit sharing etc.

    Please reply.

  11. Amina

    January 18, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Hello Talatu,
    Please am interested in your products for personal use and I live in Kano. Do you have a distributor here in Kano.
    Thanks

  12. Franca

    February 22, 2017 at 12:47 am

    I am interested in selling your product in Lagos. What is the total cost of goods I can buy and how do I reach you?

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