Eight-One-Eight Vault is the UAE’s first premium-service vault and safe deposit facility founded by Certified Graduate Gemologist and third-generation jeweller Vikram Jethwani. Located within Almas Tower at JLT, 818 offers a unique blend of exceptional security, privacy and luxury. Thus, not only has 818 created a niche service segment of its own, but it has also discreetly established itself as the quintessential brand for safeguarding the valuables of the UAE’s high-net-worth individuals.
“As the first-of-its-kind safe deposit facility, we are incredibly delighted by the positive reaction and feedback from our clients so far,” said Vikram in an exclusive interview with Signé.
Born in Japan and raised in the UAE, Vikram’s journey to founding 818 is by way of the pearl and designer jewellery industries. His grandfather had become the third-largest pearl exporter in Japan before the family transplanted themselves to the Middle East in the seventies, and established what is today Universal Pearls & Jewels DMCC, a prominent name within the pearling business.
Vikram became a Certified Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 2001, following which he held leading positions with a number of distinguished firms in New York. In 2005, Vikram returned to Dubai and spent a few years with his family business before founding Vik Jethwani Fine Jewellery. With his wife Natasha, a certified jewellery designer, as the creative director, the brand offers in-house and custom designs for weddings and engagements, as well as contemporary fashion jewellery.
“My wife and I had felt that the service in the jewellery business within the UAE was below par; even for fundamental things like giving the clients what they asked for or delivering it on-time. So, we wanted to offer the finest jewellery at competitive prices but with a focus on providing high-level and personalised customer experience for our clients,” says Vikram. “In the past six to seven years, we have accumulated a database of over 2,000 high-net-worth clients just in the UAE alone.”
“We had a lot of clients coming to us and inquiring about safety lockers, and complaining about the inconvenience, unavailability, and most of all, the size of bank lockers. We also noticed that the lockers were often not insured. So about three years ago, we began mulling over the idea of setting up a locker service with flexible timings, with the highest level of security, and with a comfortable VIP ambience. Plus, we also decided that we would offer up to a million [AED] dirhams in insurance per locker; which is now provided by Lloyd’s of London. With me being a certified gemmologist, we could take things a step further and offer a full care-package for the jewellery or watch, or even issue an appraisal certificate which is just as valid as a receipt should there be a claim.”
818 Vault was thus established by Vikram as a step-up alternative to the limited services and space provided by existing establishments in the market. For its name, “I wanted something that was easy to remember yet discreet,” explains Vikram. “My mother is into Feng Shui, and I have always been interested in the number eight. It’s an angelic number. It represents strength and security.”
The vault’s opulent viewing chamber is designed to reflect the affluent etiquette of its target clientele. “We have created a luxurious and comfortable setting for our clients,” says Vikram. “We have a jeweller’s table on which to view and arrange your valuables. It’s covered with a special material that does not scratch your jewellery. We have a mirror so that you can try them on. We even have plush seating.”
Appointments to enter the vault – half-hour each – are made in advance, and no one else is permitted to access the vault during that time-slot. For convenience, the vault is accessible at hours beyond those of bank managed facilities. With regards to prohibited items, Vikram says, “there is a list of items that are prohibited, obvious things like drugs, alcohol, excreta. This list was given to us by Dubai Police.”
818 offers two types of lockers: Premium at 25x25x60 centimetres or the larger Ultra lockers at double the size. “We chose these sizes for our lockers because we noticed that people like to store their jewellery or their watches with their boxes. So we had to make sure that there was ample space to accommodate them,” explains Vikram. In addition to the AED one million locker insurance provided by 818, clients have the option of securing additional coverage with an insurance certificate provided directly to them by an insurer of their choice.
All the safe deposit lockers within the vault are designed and manufactured by Chubbsafes, “one of the world’s most trusted and reputable safe manufacturers,” says Vikram. Equipped with a secure dual control locking mechanism, each safety deposit locker has two ten-lever locks that are accessed with two unique key profiles. This ensures that no two keys can ever be identical. For increased security, the dual-lock system is replaced every time the locker is assigned to a new client.
818 is located near the main entrance to Almas Tower, thus offering quick and hassle-free entry and exit; ideal for swift deposits or collections when on a tight schedule. Elaborating on the choice of location, Vikram stresses, “I did not want my flagship store to be anywhere else but Almas Tower. It is one of the safest buildings in the Middle-east with a security response time of under five minutes. It is where the DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) is headquartered and is home to some of the biggest jewellery brands in the world.”
In addition to safety deposit lockers, 818 vault offers a full range of additional services to accommodate its clients’ varying needs, including extended safe access hours and emergency calls for lockers. There are also specialised services specifically related to jewellery and watch care, such as professional appraisals, polishing, cleaning, repairing and maintenance; or in the words of Vikram: “pretty much all the services offered by a jeweller.”
To capitalise on its growing reputation amongst its current clientele and to meet the growing demand for its unique service, 818 Vault has plans for expansion. As Vikram explained: “We are excited to hopefully be bringing 818 Vault to more locations across the UAE and beyond in the future. We will always ensure to retain the highest levels of service and the latest security technology to bring an unparalleled luxury and exclusive experience for our clients.”
Almas Tower, JLT, Dubai