Egyptian jewelry designer pushes boundaries of art deco

Adam Elwan’s pieces are hand-made by Cairo’s veteran craftsmen. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 September 2020

Egyptian jewelry designer pushes boundaries of art deco

CAIRO: With more than a decade of experience in jewelry making, British-Egyptian designer Adam Elwan has made a name for himself in Egypt.

His art deco-inspired work features multiple influences that span Egypt’s pharaonic as well as Islamic heritage.

It is perhaps fitting that the art deco style, famous for its borrowing of ancient Egyptian motifs, is now being championed by a modern-day Egyptian designer.

Made in sterling silver and 18-karat gold, Elwan’s pieces are a reinterpretation of ancient Egyptian and Islamic motifs and symbols — from the traditional kaf (palm), eye or horus charm, and the Egyptian lotus (his sterling silver lotus bracelet is a best seller), all the way to the exquisite arabesque pattern.

Hand-made by Cairo’s veteran craftsmen, Elwan’s pieces are typically inlaid with different materials, including mother of pearl, labradorite, abalone, and semi-precious stones, which together give his pieces a timeless uniqueness.

A graduate of Le Arti Orafe jewelry design school in Florence, Italy, Elwan returned to Egypt shortly after concluding his studies in 2009 where he spent the next couple of years acquainting himself with Cairo’s traditional artisan quarter, Khan Al-Khalili, while at the same time producing jewelry.

He said: “I decided to immerse myself in the Khan and get used to the atmosphere and to working with people there. I was in the Khan every single day pretty much,” he told Arab News.



Sterling Silver Lotus Ring inlaid with pink & white Mother of Pearl #silver #jewellery #rings #egypt #design

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A couple of years and a few bazaars later, Elwan set up his first shop, where he currently collaborates with some of old Cairo’s most experienced silversmiths and stone-setters.

“Having studied it (jewelry making), I recognized how time-consuming, complex, and difficult any art form is, so I appreciated the hard work that went into doing these things,” he said.

From earrings inlaid with mother of pearl and art deco-inspired cuffs ornamented with abalone and semi-precious stones, through to 18-karat gold eye charm pendants and arabesque sterling silver cufflinks, Elwan’s pieces combine traditional jewelry making techniques with the modern methods he learned in Florence.

He admires art nouveau as well as angles and geometric patterns, but while his jewelry features traditional designs and motifs, Elwan’s work is anything but traditional.



Sterling Silver Lotus ring inlaid with Labradorite and white Mother of Pearl #silver #jewellery #design #egypt

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One way he experiments with his work is through employing inlaid stones and different kinds of material to make traditional designs “a little fresher.”

He said: “This makes the designs fun and different especially that I’m using real stones and not enamel. I always believe using natural materials gives the piece you are designing a soul. I also like to introduce a bit of color.”

Following a decade spent designing and producing jewelry, Elwan has learnt that the secret to keeping a jewelry business alive and kicking is robust quality control.

“At the end of the day, it’s the finishing that matters. It’s making sure there are no imperfections because unfortunately we do see flaws in a lot of the jewelry work that’s being made.



Sterling Silver Bangles inlaid with Mother of Pearl #egyptian #silverjewelry #design

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“And it’s mainly because the designers who are wanting this work made for them study short courses then start designing right away. They draw quick sketches without including any measurements and ask the silversmith to follow the design as it is,” he added.

Elwan hopes to be able to build an international brand in the future, but not at the expense of the quality that he is able to maintain by being in the Khan.

“They say that starting something is the hard part. Absolutely not. Maintaining something is the hard part. Maybe hard isn’t the right word to use here because hard means it’s not necessarily enjoyable. It’s challenging. Challenging means it’s fun,” he said.

‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

Updated 25 October 2020

‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

CHENNAI: Bill Murray is the most endearing aspect from “On the Rocks,” Sofia Coppola’s seventh film as writer-director. Behind his trademark deadpan expression, Murray still has twinkle and mischief in his eyes. And he brings out the same kind of lonely wistfulness we saw in his earlier association with Coppola in 2003’s “Lost in Translation,” in which he and Scarlett Johansson meet in a Tokyo hotel and find comfort in each other. There was no romance there, as there is none in his latest outing as Felix. Daughter Laura (played by Rashida Jones, who has starred in “I Love You, Man” and “The Social Network”) is troubled thinking that her life is about to go into a tailspin. 

“On the Rocks” is now on Apple TV+. Supplied

“On the Rocks” — on Apple TV+ and set in New York — is just as sentimental and sweet as “Lost in Translation.” As Coppola’s latest adventure begins, we see Felix, who has made his millions as an art dealer, in the lap of luxury with a chauffeured Mercedes, first-class hotels and sensational magic in his persona. But having divorced his wife many moons ago, he longs to nurture the relationship with his daughter Laura, who is married to the very successful Dean (Marlon Wayans) with two lovely daughters. 

However, in a kind of mid-marriage crisis, Laura begins to have doubts about Dean’s fidelity, especially after he gets busy with his new professional venture that takes him away on frequent trips. His “leggy” assistant, Fiona, accompanies him, and Laura confides this to her dad, who weaves stories of all that could be happening between Dean and his assistant. Felix suggests that they follow the possibly philandering husband, and a troubled Laura gets talked into it.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent. Supplied

All this leads to hilarious situations with Felix always being in command, even when cops catch him speeding as he is trying to tail Dean’s cab. Wittily calm and composed, he is the sort of guy who will unabashedly say to a passing stranger that she looks ravishing and get away with it, much to his daughter’s consternation.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent, with Murray engaging us with full-of-life banter. Jones matches up to him, a nervous wife tottering on the edge of what has been a great marriage. She hides her angst with remarkable alacrity, trying to play a good mother to her kids, while her dad leads her up the garden path. “On the Rocks” is happily no weepy tale, and Coppola spices it up.