SARA ABDEL AZIM: THE ART OF SILVER

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Author: Lisa Kaaki, [email protected]

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Her jewelry has been described as unique, authentic, artistic and timeless. Sara Abdel Azim is one of the rare female designers, including Azza Fahmy, who designs and also makes her own silver jewelry in Egypt.

“I do everything myself from A to Z, and actually, I believe that this is one of the main factors affecting my creations spirit. I use the same technique used for bronze sculpture. With this technique, the main mold is made in wax, which turns afterward into silver. It is a complicated and long process which suits my creative development,” explained Abdel Azim.
The UK is witnessing a silver renaissance. A large number of skilled silversmiths have emerged and are producing artistic pieces whose exceptional quality has been recognized all over the world. Consequently, there has been a growing demand for contemporary silver and a steady stream of commissions.
More recently, the soaring price of gold is creating a momentum for silver. People are not only rediscovering the metal’s beauty, versatility, durability and affordability, but also its artistic value. Silver jewelry, unlike high jewelry, was never disconnected from fashion, art and design.
Historically, jewelry played an important role in the world of decorative arts and was very much present in the big international fairs in European capitals like the “Exposition Universelle” held in Paris in 1900. After World War II, jewelry declined along with other decorative arts. The trend moved toward industrial design, which has little in common with the refinement and detail associated with jewelry. Consequently, jewelry became isolated. Figurative jewelry ceased to be made. During the 1980s and 1990s, jewelry was more about big precious stones than artistry and creativity. However, in the past ten years, high jewelry is renewing with the spirit of craftsmanship, which was always present in high quality silver jewelry.
When I asked Abdel Azim why she decided to go in the jewelry business, she replied immediately: “ It is not a business, it is art.” Brought up in an artistic family, she has loved silver since her childhood.
“I still remember my first silver ring and still have it by the way. It was when I was eight years old! Therefore, it was the first material I had in mind when I decided to specialize in that field although I added some more materials afterwards,” she explained.
Although she admits that regular customers might be affected by the high price of gold, she strongly feels those clients who buy jewelry for their artistic beauty, have a different mentality. “They simply know that they are buying a design or an artistic piece, which has nothing to do with the material used. When you buy a painting, you don’t simply pay the price of paper, brush and colors! What you pay for is the creation; that’s the whole point!”
An accomplished designer-maker, Abdel Azim conceives, designs and makes her pieces in her workshop. Inspired by nature, her jewelry is organic and its sculptural textures look like sea-inspired reflections — the rippling effects of the wind on the sand and in the fields and the ragged surface of rocks washed away by the sea.
Her creative spirit is intimately tied to the physical activity required to make a piece of jewelry. When she starts working, the physical motion is a visible sign that she is moved and in a creative mood. As she files, stretches the silver with a hammer or gently taps the silver surface to achieve a turtle-shell effect, she feels inspired. She cannot rest until she unloads that bundle of passion, transforming it into a unique sculptural jewel.
“Most of my creations are one of a kind. Some pieces are duplicated; yet, I never go for mass production, as I believe that it diminishes the artistic value of any creation. Moreover, duplicated items are always well identified and clearly communicated to the customer interested in them. To me, customization creates a great emotional bond between the customer and the piece,” said Abdel Azim.

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