Style + Culture: Destination meets Alanna & Jonna Gandelman

By Tristan Ralston on 27th June, 2019

One of the oldest jewelry companies in the Caribbean, Gandelman was founded in 1931 in Curacao and has become world-renowned for luxury jewelry and watches. Almost a century on, the family-run business is now being steered by its fourth generation, sisters Alanna and Jonna Gandelman. We met with Alanna and Jonna to talk about the company’s heritage, jewelry trends and watch buying tips.

Jonna and Alanna Gandelman

Gandelman has become world renowned for exclusive fine watches and jewelry; tell us more about the company.

With two sisters joining the business, Gandelman is now in its 4th generation. We are very proud of the company’s heritage and history, which had its founding in Curaçao in the 1930s. Our family entered the world of luxury retail in the 1940s with the opening of a high-end clothing boutique and began selling jewelry in the 50s. Our grandfather Morris was a talented artist and we sold his jewelry designs in the store. We expanded to the island of St Maarten and then to Aruba in 1981, where we now operate three stores. We’re very proud of this longstanding history of the company.

Duty free Cartier watch at Gandelman Aruba

What are the key things to consider when buying a watch?

The first thing you should consider when buying a watch is style. Where and when do you plan to wear the watch? Are you looking for something sporty or classic? What size do you like on your wrist?

Next, you should consider the features you are looking for in a watch. What will you be using the watch for? For example, if you travel a lot between time zones, the Rolex GMT Master II has a dual time zone feature which is shown simultaneously. The Rolex Cellini Moonphase, for example, is an elegant classic model with a Moonphase display. These are among many feature options available on the market.

The next thing to consider would be material and price. Are you looking for a stainless steel, two-tone, or gold watch? Do you want a metal bracelet, leather strap, or rubber strap? This part ties back into the style you are considering.

Rolex at Gandelman Aruba

The Rolex Datejust 41 in Oystersteel and yellow gold

What are your favorite watches on the market and why?

We are really into the classic Rolex models at the moment. A Rolex Datejust rolesor (stainless steel and 18K yellow gold), with a fluted bezel and jubilee bracelet, is perfect for a vintage feel. Bvlgari is also doing really interesting things with watches at the moment, the most impressive being the award-winning Octo Finissimmo, breaking the world record for the thinnest automatic watch case. As lovers of jewelry watches, though, the Bvlgari Serpenti will always be one of our favorites, as well as the newly re-launched Cartier Panthere.

Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas | Gandelman jewellers in Aruba

Bulgari Serpenti Tubogas watch in 18 kt rose gold and stainless steel, with grey lacquered dial and diamonds

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo | Caribbean duty free jewellers Gandelman

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo in Titanium with Grey Dial

What jewelry trends are you currently seeing?

Stacking, stacking, more stacking, and layering; from necklaces to bracelets to rings! Hoops are making a comeback, in all shapes and sizes. Color! Bright gemstones, as well as multicolor gems, are very on trend right now. Charms, celestial jewelry, and drop earrings are also in high demand.

What are the key things to consider when buying precious gemstones?

The most important thing to consider is how the gemstone makes you feel. Does it bring you joy? If the answer is yes, then you can examine the color and cut more closely. Does the stone have any dents or scratches? How will it wear and tear considering your lifestyle? The good news about purchasing jewelry with gemstones from any of the brands we carry is that all gemstones have gone through a very strict procurement and quality inspection prior to being mounted. Our brands have entire teams dedicated to making sure all gemstones are of the highest quality, so you only need to focus on that first question: how does the jewelry make you feel when you wear it?

David Yurman | Caribbean duty free jewellers Gandelman

Ashley Graham stacks David Yurman Novella designs for a beautiful statement in color and form

What advice would you give to those thinking about investing in an heirloom piece of jewelry or watch?

Do your research to become knowledgeable about the brand or item you are considering for investment purposes. Be careful about where you are buying your watch or jewelry piece. When considering a watch for investment purposes, it’s important to buy from an authorized retailer to ensure all of the watch movement parts are original, as that has an effect on value as well as the warranty.

What are your fail-safe gift ideas for him and her?

A fail-safe gift is always a gift certificate! But if you feel you know the person well enough, the David Yurman Men’s Collection has a lot of incredible options in the more “giftable” price range. For the ladies, the new slimmer Juste un Clou and Love bracelets from Cartier are always a hit and about half the price of the original sizes!

Cartier Juste un Clou bracelets | Caribbean jewellers Gandelman

Cartier Juste un Clou bracelets

What makes Gandelman’s shopping experience so special?

We are a family-owned business with values that have been passed down through the generations. Because the business has been around for so long, we have had to be versatile and adapt to succeed, while still keeping our core values at heart. We’ve always placed our relationships with our customers at the center, and set a very high standard on our customer experience, both when shopping for a new piece or servicing an item in our After Sales Service Department. Our staff are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the brands we carry and always go the extra mile for our customers.

Renaissance Mall, L. G. Smith Boulevard 82, Oranjestad | Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort
J. E. Irausquin Boulevard 85, Oranjestad | +297-529-9920 |