LONDON: Born in America and based in London, the award-winning Brazilian-Lebanese designer Nadine Ghosn is as quirky and jubilant as her namesake fine jewelry line that she launched in 2016.
Elements of contemporary culture as well as her personal experiences — from her early days in Japan to a love of old-school stationery and popular food classics — inspire her bold creations. And beneath all of that pop and color, jewelry holds a sentimental value for the Stanford-educated entrepreneur.
“I’m an extremely sensitive person and jewelry is kind of like my token of moments, memories, and people,” Ghosn tells Arab News. “When I started creating jewelry, my goal was to create something that really means something to the (buyer), but also says something about the time we’re in. Going back through time, you (can learn) a lot about civilizations’ cultures through their jewelry, transitioning from one generation to the next.”
Ghosn’s love of accessories stems from her childhood, particularly when her father — the former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn — would return with gifts from his travels. In her teens, she recalls, “I always spent my money on jewelry. I couldn’t care less about what I was wearing but I would always accessorize it in a specific way.”
Having majored in art and economics, Ghosn began her career in a New York consulting firm, followed by a rotational program at Hermès. Once she had gained a deeper understanding of craftsmanship, Ghosn turned down a major job offer to begin her own independent career path. “At that point, I was 24 going on 25 and I was just thinking about what my job meant to me and what I was trying to achieve. ‘Am I going to take a risk?’ Those big questions were kind of on my mind,” she says.
A chance encounter during a timely visit to Lebanon turned into a ‘light-bulb moment’ for Ghosn; she encountered a Beirut jewelry manufacturer, who explained that his studio was struggling as demand for such spaces — and craftsmanship — had declined significantly. Ghosn struck a deal with him: he would teach her to work with gold and she, in return, would design her debut collection in his space.
One of Ghosn’s earliest pieces remains the most special to her: The ‘Hamburger Ring’ — which was designed around the theme of food uniting people. An 18-karat gold design of seven stackable rings representing different layers of a burger, it was a design that she says raised the eyebrows of those closest to her.
“When I first showed it to my family, I remember them saying that no one was going to buy it,” she says. “I had faith in it and when it got momentum it was (proof that) when you believe in something, you should go for it.” The piece has ended up selling to a wide range of clients, from teenagers to 65-year-olds — and including the founder of Wendy’s burger chain.
Over the years, a number of celebrities have been spotted wearing Ghosn’s pieces. Beyoncé wore the tongue-in-cheek ‘Shut Up’ earring cuff for her 35th birthday celebrations, and Karl Lagerfeld has sported the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ headphones necklace.
Ghosn’s latest geek-chic collection is “Too Cool For School,” which ranges from a pencil ring to a paperclip bracelet and protractor earrings. It is, she says, somewhat inspired by her time in Japan — a place where stationery is something of an obsession for many. “The pencil is a simple but empowering tool, and everyone writes their own story,” she says.
While we often hear the popular idiom “Like father, like son,” in Ghosn’s case, it’s more “Like father, like daughter,” for she shares her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and openness to new ideas.
“My dad always challenged us to be extremely independent,” she says. “He was always very bold and that’s obviously within my DNA as well. Today, we’ve learned much more about each other — he finally says that I’m a jewelry designer because, for the first year or two, he had reservations. But thankfully, because people are purchasing and the fact that the business is profitable, I finally get the ‘designer’ label in my family.”
As for the best advice she received from her father before starting her own business, she recalls him telling her: “Whatever you do, be the best at it. Make yourself indispensable.”