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.


Zayan the Label unveils summer and Ramadan lines fit for a princess

Updated 23 May 2018
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Zayan the Label unveils summer and Ramadan lines fit for a princess

  • The Ciao Maharani collection was inspired by Princess Gayatri Devi, the last maharani of Jaipur
  • The label also launched a special line of kaftans for Ramadan

DUBAI: Dubai-based Zayan Ghandour is widely known as the fashion-forward woman behind hugely successful concept store S*uce, which boasts incredibly offbeat designs by regional and international designers in stores across the UAE.
Ghandour launched her own quirky, feminine brand, Zayan the Label, at Paris Fashion Week in 2011 and has now unveiled a Spring/Summer 2018 collection that is perfect for the month of Ramadan, as well as a line of kaftans.
Titled the “Ciao Maharani” collection, the delightful summer line was inspired by Princess Gayatri Devi, the last maharani of Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state famous for its reddish pink buildings.
The collection is marked by tiered dresses embroidered with Indian floral folklore motifs, vibrant brocades with contemporary jersey rib details, deliciously bright color block dresses with ruffled halter-necks and detachable off-shoulder sleeves, as well as dresses, tops and bottoms.

#ss18collection #ramadancapsulecollection

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The line is ideal for iftar and suhoor gatherings due to the loose fit and summery shades of some of the pieces — there are even oh-so-comfy sweatpants embroidered with various motifs. Starched, Santorni-esque whites, vibrant reds, yellows and blues all work together to result in a collection that is at once stylish, smile-inducing and fun.
The label is known for its quirks and this line is no different, with one cold shoulder sweatshirt embroidered with the words “Garam Masala” — a fiery, spicy staple in Indian cooking. Although the thought of wearing a sweatshirt in the Gulf heat is rather off-putting, perhaps label lovers could save this piece for their inevitable trip to cooler climes this summer.

#garammasala #ciaomaharani #SS18

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Ghandour also released a similar line of Ramadan kaftans, which echo the colors, styles and motifs that appear in her Ciao Maharani collection.

Fuschia for Ramadan

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Inspired by a legendary style icon in India, it is refreshing that Ghandour chose to turn to the subcontinent to fuel her latest collection.
Described as “one of India’s most elegant, independent and modern maharanis,” by the India Today newspaper, Devi was the third maharani consort of Jaipur from 1940 to 1949, through her marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II.
She was born on May 23, 1919, in London and married her husband in May 1940. Despite the relative ease with which she could have chosen to live a life of leisure, Devi chose to opt for a stint in politics and won a seat in the Indian Parliament in 1962. She held the seat from 1967-1971 as a member of the Swatantra Party and was an avid equestrienne and polo player to boot.

Known for her fondness for cars, Devi also reportedly imported the first Mercedes-Benz W126 to India and owned a bevy of Rolls-Royces and an aircraft, according to India Today.

With all these achievements under her belt — or tucked neatly into her sari — it is perhaps no wonder that the Lebanese trendsetting designer chose to draw inspiration from the Indian princess.

The collection is available across S*uce stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the standalone Zayan the Label store in Dubai and via international stockists. To peruse the collection online, visit zayanthelabel.com.