DUBAI: In a matter of 12 days, jewelry designer Donna Hourani managed to raise $17,000 by auctioning a one-of-a kind ring that she created to help rebuild her native Lebanon, following the devastating twin explosions at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4.
According to Hourani, who is based Dubai and who studied interior architecture in Lebanon, all proceeds of the auction will be distributed to four nonprofits — Baytna Baytak, My School Pulse, Donner Sang Compter and Embrace Lebanon — that are providing much-needed home restoration services, medical assistance and mental health support for affected Lebanese citizens.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a high bid like that, but it just shows you how much people want to help,” the designer told Arab News in a phone conversation, adding that the starting bid was $2,000 and that 13 bids from around the world were placed online in late August.
Founder of her namesake jewelry brand, the mother of three is one of the many Lebanese expats, designers and restaurateurs in the UAE who are expressing solidarity with their fellow citizens in any way they can. “For every Lebanese, whether in or outside of Lebanon, it’s very traumatizing and heartbreaking to see something like this happening to your country,” said Hourani.
The auctioned 18K-gold ring is called “Unbreakable Cedar” and is studded with 26 precious stones, the colors of which represent the red, white and green arrangement of the Lebanese flag. Hourani described the ring as a “forever piece,” hoping that it will be passed from one generation to the next. Similar to her previous customized designs, which tell intimate stories of family moments, every stone is thoughtfully placed and symbolic.
“I used rubies, diamonds, and a green emerald,” she said, explaining her design process. “The diamonds symbolize the broken glass that shattered during the blast; the rubies are broken into pieces, symbolizing the people’s broken hearts. The emerald centerpiece represents the cedar. I called the ring ‘Unbreakable Cedar’ because you can break the glass, the buildings and our hearts, but you’ll never break the homeland.”
As a delicate finishing touch, inside the band of the ring reads an Arabic inscription: ‘Li Beirut’, or ‘In the name of Beirut.’