Who knew that the crown that adorned the head of Miss Universe 2023 was a Lebanese creation?
The rare piece, worth around $6 million, was created by Maison Mouawad at the initiative of Fred Mouawad, a fourth-generation member of the atelier founded in 1890.
Named the eighth richest diamond owner in the world by Wealth-X in 2013, Fred Mouawad adores gemstones, especially the colored ones. Passionate about his career from a young age, he oversees every little detail of their designs, and following the journey of every gemstone.
“I consider the story and value of every gemstone we use, then I make my decision about the design that suits it,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Mouawad noted that his wide knowledge of gemstones peaked after he studied the field at the GIA, Gemological Institute of America.
Fred started working with his father when he was 21, and gained his expertise quickly. His first adventure with gemstones was in Sri Lanka, where he bought a 27-carat sapphire, polished and refined it, and then sold it for a good sum. This was the start of his story in the gemstones trade.
The Miss Universe crown wasn’t named “Force for Good” by coincidence; its unique design symbolizes positive change.
The handmade, fully-crusted crown contains 108.44 carats of sapphire and 48.12 carats of white diamonds. The wave-like swirls resemble the head of a snake, symbolizing challenges.
Moving up from the base, the sharpness of the white diamonds is softened by the sapphires, whose intensity increases gradually and ends with an astonishing, royal blue pear-like 45.14 carat sapphire, symbolizing the power of good.
“The hues and tones of the colors clearly express change and its long, exhausting route. That’s why the colors start with white, then pale blue, and end with royal blue with the pear-like stone at the top,” Fred explained to Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The snake-like base emphasizes that change cannot be achieved without resistance. That’s why the crown says: ‘resist and do never surrender’,” he added.
“My home country is always in my heart despite the distances. I was born in Saudi Arabia, then I moved to a boarding school in Switzerland. I studied in the US, and today, I am based in Thailand. But deep down, I will always be Lebanese from a Lebanese family,” he said.
“This love we feel for Lebanon was born with us and we hold it in our genes. The entire country wants change, especially the youth. The idea of the crown was inspired by the circumstances we are living, simulating the aspirations of people on this planet, and so, we chose a sapphire as a symbol for this change,” he added.
Maison Mouawad is planning to design another crown for Miss Universe and her runner-up. In a year or two, it might consider making more crowns for the pageant. “We believe we are still in the beginning, we must develop our thought and use our imagination to make more creations,” Fred said.
Maison Mouawad has made crowns for many celebrities and famous figures, but given the chance, Fred said he tomorrow’s generation is the most deserving of a crown.
“It belongs to the youth who love Lebanon, and to every person who is ready to give anything for the country’s evolution. Every one who feels proud of Lebanon deserves to receive this crown. It might not be one person, it could be a whole generation,” he said.
Asked what the crown would look like, he replied: “I envision green symbolizing hope, and yellow symbolizing the bright sun of a better future. I care about making a crown for Lebanon and its youth so it gives the Lebanese people hope, life, and continuity.”