JEDDAH: The art of jewelry design is complex and requires a keen eye for details, achieved with time and effort. What better than to bring the beauty of such art from the heart of Jeddah’s old town.
Making jewelry might seem a bit intimidating as it requires dealing with solid materials, sharp tools, and a lot of patience. But despite any difficulties, Ayat Dahi, a young Saudi Arabian artist and jeweler from Jeddah, decided to unleash her artistic skills and open her own jewelry studio. At the same time, she also wanted to educate and inspire art among the youth of her society.
Dahi received her master’s degree in jewelry making from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia in 2017. She told Arab News that her interest in the craft was already there, but working toward a degree helped her grow.
“I started making jewelry 10 years ago but I was only a beginner back then,” she said. “The real spark for making jewelry was ignited once I was back from the US.”
Dealing with craft tools, such as a torch, sandpaper, hammers, and saws require a bit of strength and confidence.
“Although the tools I am dealing with are considered dangerous and sharp, you have to be very careful and precise when dealing with them,” Dahi said. “However, the fine result will always leave me surprised and in awe.”
She participated at the annual Atlanta jewelry show in 2017.
“The exhibit gathered jewelry makers from everywhere in one place,” said Dahi, who was inspired by her love for coffee. “The pieces on display were derived from the coffee culture. I would use a coffee bean in a ring instead of a precious stone and I also had dual rings that can be worn by couples or friends.”
A woman with many talents, Dahi also works as a barista at one of Jeddah’s well-known cafes and was among the very first females to do so in the Kingdom.
She said that she always tries to incorporate new items and designs into her jewelry pieces to make them more contemporary and artsy. “Generally, I like to produce jewelry that can be worn as a jewelry item and sometimes I opt to produce art pieces with the same tools and techniques used for jewelry,” Dahi said. “However it does not matter if the piece is wearable or not. It is the process and the piece itself that ends up being beautifully made and designed.”
She further went on to explain how there are endless techniques in jewelry making. It starts with pitching an idea, researching and sketching the design, then cutting, polishing, and soldering.
“I believe having an artistic imagination for the design is one of the most valuable assets of the craft,” Dahi said. “Once I finish designing and crafting any piece, I really feel accomplished knowing that I am the one behind it.”
In 2019, Dahi earned her traditional arts diploma at Jameel House of Tradition Arts, located in the old Jeddah downtown, known as Al-Balad. It is also where her studio is located, near the Nassif House Museum, built by Omar Nassif in 1881.
“I choose to have a studio in Al-Balad because it is one of the dearest historic areas to my heart, and I believe it is a very inspiring place for so many people, too,” she said.
“I want visitors to experience the true meaning of an art workshop, and thus I chose the Al-Balad area, where they will have to walk between the old streets and alleyways to reach the studio.”
Ayat Studio offers weekly jewelry making and pottery workshops for beginners and advanced levels for both genders. The studio also supports other artists by providing them with a space to offer workshops. Dahi also aims to exchange experiences and learn new things through these workshops.
In 2020, she decided to open her jewelry studio and though the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was a worldwide crisis, Dahi remained optimistic and focused on her art.
“During the pandemic, I was keeping myself busy working on various things in my home studio and sharing what I accomplished through social media,” she said. “That caught people’s attention and then many were longing for a visit. After that, I decided to open a studio in the downtown area.”
Inspired by her surroundings, the jewelry designer is working on a souvenir project of a wearable jewelry collection motivated by Al-Balad’s many historic sites and architectural designs.