A rare gem: Meet the Saudi jewelry designer who is not afraid to shine

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The designer creates the pieces in her home studio. (Photographs supplied)
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Abeer Angawi has made a name for herself with her stunning designs.
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The necklaces are delicate and unique.
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The designer creates the pieces in her home studio.
Updated 06 March 2018
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A rare gem: Meet the Saudi jewelry designer who is not afraid to shine

LONDON: Saudi jewelry designer Abeer Angawi is known for her unique style and handmade jewelry pieces. Arab News caught up with the designer to learn more about her ever-expanding business, creative drive and how a prediction by a market stall vendor could have sparked her success.
Her turning point, she explained, came in 2004 during a visit to Cape Town, South Africa. She was browsing the gemstones in the historic Greenmarket Square famous for its handcrafts. As she handled the stones, a vendor said: “You will be a great designer.”
Those words have proved prophetic as she has gone on to pour her energy into creating her handmade jewelry pieces which are now sold internationally.
“That was the beginning for me. When I returned home, I made just 10 necklaces. No sooner were they made than they were sold — so fast,” she recalled.
“One customer bought all 10 pieces. In the first pieces I used African malachite. It was an amazing color.”
Malachite is popular in jewelry and ornaments due to its striking green color and interesting, veined patterns.
“After that, I produced a new collection every two months in order to keep up with demand. I began to source stones from all over the world: Turquoise, jade, onyx, amber, agate, rubies, pearls, amethysts, opals, aquamarines, corals. I wasn’t doing any marketing — it was just word of mouth,” she explained.
The business expanded rapidly.
“In 2010, I sold 400 pieces in one year. One client ordered 14 pieces, which was a great support for me. My dream for the business is that it will sell all over the world,” she said.
Angawi has a warm and engaging personality and loves sharing her knowledge and answering questions about the particular gemstones used in each elaborate piece.
She described her design process, saying: “I work in a small studio in my home in Jeddah where I can focus on my designs. I work from my drawings. My designs come straight from my imagination — I feel a strong connection to the stones.
“I do commissions based on the wishes of the customer. Sometimes they are looking for designs for special occasions to complement what they are wearing. It could, for example, be for a wedding or an engagement. I spend many hours working on my designs.”
She described her personal feelings about the stones.
“For me, the green stones are the strongest — they give you power. The emerald is the strongest stone in the world — it immediately attracts the eye. The ruby gives happiness (and) the red color brings excitement,” she said.
Meanwhile, the designer added that “turquoise has a calming, relaxing effect and coral brings a feeling of freshness.” For its part, “the pearl, I call ‘the lady of the world.’ Pearls bring a smile — I love pearls! When I work with pearls, I hope that the wearer will have an inner purity like the pearl.”
Asked about her early creative influences, she recalled: “I was just seven when I started drawing necklaces as a hobby. My mother, who has passed away, told me to keep going.”
Her husband has also encouraged her creativity.
“When I got married, my husband told me to pursue my hobby. He strongly supports me in developing my creativity,” she said.
She is a dynamic woman who has somehow managed to follow her dream and build a business while raising a large family.
“I have seven children. Once I decide to do something, I do it. There is just something inside of me — I really want to do this,” she explained.
Angawi, who was born in Makkah, believes that Jeddah is an inspirational place for artists and designers. She founded her own local business, the Ruby Boutique, in the city.
“I feel Jeddah is rich in arts. For thousands of years traders have operated from this commercial hub, bringing in artefacts from all over the world,” she said.
She pointed out that all of the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa are within a few hours’ flying distance of Jeddah.
Even before being designated the port city for Makkah, Jeddah was a trading hub for the region. In the 19th century, goods such as mother of pearl, tortoise shells, frankincense and spices were routinely exported from the city. Apart from this, many imports into the city were destined for further transit to the Suez, Africa or Europe.
Angawi loves to collect antiques that reflect this rich history.
“I have many antique pieces in my house that inspire me. I particularly love the pieces from Italy and Morocco,” she said.
In her new collection, Angawi had added rings. She works with another designer who designs earrings to complement her pieces.
Her aim is to create jewelry pieces unique to her clients, whether they come from Moscow, Marrakesh, Kuwait City, Paris or London.
“For me — I see a lady as a lady — I don’t care about her nationality,” she said.
The key, she believes, is working closely with the individual and finding stones that match their moods and wishes.
“When I am designing, I am conscious that women are very sensitive. I think about their emotions and I want to bring them happiness through my designs,” she said.


Leena Al-Ghouti wraps up as LFW winds down

Gigi Hadid walking the Burberry show at LFW 2019.(AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Leena Al-Ghouti wraps up as LFW winds down

DUBAI: As Gigi Hadid walked the runway, Dubai-based influencer Leena Al-Ghouti showed up at the Burberry show at London Fashion Week in a chic ensemble.

The fashion influencer donned a black hijab, cat-eye shades and an uber-cool camel colored coat, with an oversized Burberry shawl, as she posed outside the show.

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Burberry earned its place — again — as one of the top shows in London Fashion Week on Sunday, according to Reuters, with a widely ranging catwalk show that honored the British brand’s long tradition but showed it is still ready to mix it up and set trends.

Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci showed in his second collection that he is perfectly comfortable stretching the Burberry look to keep its younger fans happy while easily switching gears to create classic, severely tailored ensembles that ooze chic.

The two sides of the Burberry coin were reflected in the two adjacent rooms where the collection was shown: one a sedate auditorium with comfortable, padded seats; the other a raucous wide-open space ringed by a climbing gym of the type young kids would use.

“I have been thinking a lot about England as a country of contrasts, from the structured to the rebellious and free, and I wanted to celebrate how these elements coexist,” Tisci said.

He said he had four characters in mind when putting the collection together: a girl and a boy, and a lady and a gentleman.

The transition was obvious as models went from street-style clothes — oversize puffer jackets, metallic ornamentation, revealing slip dresses, silver boots, faux fur, big red plastic sneakers — to subtle, timeless outfits in muted fall colors.

There were occasional references to the brand’s earlier incarnation as a purveyor of fine, traditional menswear as a few models were dressed in classic suits and ties, including one double-breasted throwback, Reuters reported.

Tisci made ample and imaginative use of the traditional Burberry trench and check, and paired a number of sexy evening dresses with full-length coats for a look at once provocative and classy.

There were a few eccentric touches, including an outfit set off by a giant scarf that paid homage to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

For her part. Hadid took to the runway in a sporty, monochromatic ensemble featuring a miniskirt and black corset with dramatic puffed sleeves over a white polo shirt.

Tisci seems to be enjoying his time at Burberry, treasuring tradition but refusing to be overwhelmed by it.