Luxe

Melange of aesthetics

Smitha Sadanandan | Updated on January 17, 2018
Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Ralph Masri’s jewellery has become more structured and architectural, creating more refined and sophisticated pieces

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in an
engaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in anengaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in an
engaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in anengaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in an
engaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Alia Mouzannar creates organic, poetic and flexible jewels in anengaging way, and is inspired by unconventional aesthetics

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Dina Kamal designs minimalistic jewellery, especially pinky rings, that is a nod to her background in architecture

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

Nayla Arida makes colourful jewellery sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones

A potent force of contemporary Lebanese fine jewellers is increasingly celebrating Western and Eastern aesthetics through their novel designs

Ralph Masri

Ralph Masri graduated in Bachelors of Art in Jewellery at Central Saint Martin’s College (CSM) in London. He always knew he wanted to be a designer, but it wasn’t until his foundation year at CSM, where he got to experiment in different fields of design, that Masri discovered his love for jewellery and decided to follow that path. Internships at multinational jewellery brands Pomellato and Swarovski in London, helped the young designer hone his skills, accrue business knowledge and understand the importance of marketing, branding and public relations. Another internship, this time under fashion jeweller Scott Wilson, who specialises in ‘catwalk jewellery,’ shaped Masri’s love for statement pieces. “London has especially opened up my mind as a designer and made me think outside the box,” says Masri, who launched his eponymous line three years ago. His jewellery, manufactured in Lebanon — and mostly inspired by architecture and history — has garnered a lot of attention in a short period. The designs are a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures; quite characteristic of his hometown, Beirut. For the Arabesque Deco collection, he drew upon the motifs of ancient Middle Eastern buildings and monuments, while his Sacred Windows collection is inspired by Gothic Cathedrals, arches, windows and stain glass paintings. Of late, Masri has moved away from crafting big statement, chunky pieces to refined, sophisticated eye-catching ones, while his jewellery has become more structured and architectural than before.

Alia Mouzannar

Architect Alia Mouzannar’s family (AW Mouzannar) has been in the jewellery business in Lebanon for nearly six generations. She grew up watching her father, Walid, work on unique designs for special pieces. “He taught me that the value of jewellery lay not only in the stones and gold, but in the soul that it embodied, the art it represented and the emotion it conveyed,” remembers Mouzannar, who began designing over ten years ago. Her designs are a creative dialogue between her fresh, unconventional aesthetics and her family’s rich heritage and traditions. “My jewellery is informed by Eastern inspirations and the Western way of life,” says Mouzannar. Modular, brushed gold, combined with diamonds and gemstones, form the narrative of Mouzannar’s design language: the oriental architecture and the moucharabieh patterns of the old windows inspired her Arabesque collection, while the Pom Pom series mirrored the elegant Art Deco period, and represented the power of the talisman in ethnic cultures. Interestingly, the signature Cache transformable rings were born out of her desire to mount a diamond ring — an heirloom piece gifted by her mother-in-law — on a modern wearable shank. Be it necklaces, earrings or rings, the designer makes organic, poetic and flexible jewels in an engaging way. A case in point is her delightful, modular In-Folio earrings that can be worn in a surprising nine different ways. “I tell my clients, ‘if you find any other way, please let me know,” says Mouzannar, who loves to offer women the opportunity to find unique ways to wear her jewellery.

Nayla Arida

Beirut born Nayla Arida spent a considerable part of her life — 25 years to be precise — in France. Having studied interior design, she moved back to Lebanon to reconnect with her roots. “It is completely chance though, that I began to make jewels,” says the self-taught designer. Arida cut her teeth at the Lebanese brand Les Bazella, designing a small line of jewels. She learnt more about the art of jewellery making at workshops. In 2009, she launched her namesake brand with the first few pieces being fish and frog motif jewellery. Arida’s design aesthetics, strongly influenced by European culture, reflects inspirations from Beirut — a melting pot of myriad cultures. Her work became popular when it caught the eye of Natalie Lacroix of Franck et Fils in Paris and Lesley Schiff of Talisman Gallery in London. The designer works with Armenian craftsmen in the Bourj Hammoud neighbourhood of Beirut to make colourful jewellery — 18k gold frogs, ladybugs, snakes, wings, blossoms and fishes — sprinkled with precious and semi-precious stones. Arida has a fondness for fishes and the “symbolic meaning it holds in different cultures,” which prompted her to make adorable versions in malachite, coral, turquoise, onyx and mother-of-pearl for her Abondance collection. Arida, whose handcrafted jewellery is sold in Beirut, London, Paris and Dubai, is currently working on her Shell collection.

Dina Kamal

Five years ago, architect Dina Kamal took a year off from work for research to find inspiration for her work and spark her imagination. One such “random research on vintage jewellery” led to Kamal’s discovery of signet rings. “Pharaohs, nobility and the clergy wore these rings to symbolise their power,” she says. The trend died down only to be revived many years later by the mafia and the dandies, who took a liking to the signets. After launching her architecture firm DK01 in 2010, and embracing jewellery design, Kamal brought out signet rings and gem-studded pinky versions hinged on proportions, details and materials: her first collection was the PNKYRNG that redefined the shape of the signet ring. Undeniably the ‘Queen of Pinky Rings,’ Kamal’s contemporary pieces are characterised by five different colours (including beige gold) and five varied textures that bear interesting names such as Flat Plate, Flat Coin, Flat Wire, Tube, Pearl and Loupe series, among others.

Kamal recently unveiled the V ring stylised around a bridge that holds a pair of diamonds. Another new piece is the Twin ring and, for the first time, she features emeralds. “My client had a pair of emeralds that she wanted to use for a ring. Emeralds are the most beautiful stones; the colour feels intense yet neutral,” says Kamal, who shuttles between London and Beirut, designing minimalistic necklaces, cufflinks, stackable rings and pinky rings all of which are a nod to architecture.

Smitha Sadanandan is a London-based freelance journalist and Co-Editor (International) of KaterinaPerez.com

Published on July 20, 2016

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