This sparkling crop of jewelers have been shimmering in Lebanon’s jewelry scene and amplifying the inspirations of their rich Middle Eastern heritage through their creations. Here’s our list of nine natty designers.
Alia Mouzannar entered the world of jewelry because of her family: the Mouzannars has been in the jewelry business for a very long time, upholding a rich heritage of artistry. A student of architecture, Alia Mouzannar was inevitably drawn to the sparkle and beauty of gems. Alia, who has been designing for over 10 years, likes to express her creative style through modular, brushed gold, combination of diamonds, brilliant-cut, rose-cut, rough and colored diamonds. The Cache ring is one of her signature pieces.
What we love most: It’s so much fun to wear jewelry in multiple ways, and Alia showed us the modular way. We love her transformable jewelry; the pieces are truly endearing.
With both parents being jewelers, André Marcha’s destiny had already been charted out for him. He eventually made a foray into the world of gems in Beirut in 1969 as a diamond setter. André’s creations are the epitome of beauty and have many takers. Fishes, octopuses, boleros, carpets, kites, flowers, red peppers and snakes – anything and everything in nature – inspires André to create mesmerizing jewelry sprinkled with colorful gems. Little wonder that his jewels have found their way to auctions at Christies and Sotheby’s.
What we love most: André’s attention to shapes and colors. We love the harmonious balance between creativity and quirkiness in the André Marcha jewels.
Navigating the competitive jewelry market in Lebanon was no easy task for Christina Debs. She studied diamond grading at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and at HRD, jewelry design and technology at L'AFEDAP, L'Ecole de la rue du Louvre and L'Ecole Boule in Paris, and used the know-how to her advantage. Color, for Christina, is life, and she likes her jewelry to be lively and in sync with the brand image. In fact, Christina has used more than 45 different colored gemstones in her designs that feature modern cuts and fancy shapes. Her new creations for Baselworld 2016 include Rock Candy, Electra and Symphony.
What we love most: Christina’s letter creations and candy colored jewels. We are equally fond of her newest Electra (bulb-inspired pieces) and Symphony creations.
An architect by profession and a jeweler by passion. That’s Dina Kamal for you. She leans on the principles of architecture to ensure her designs are something that the wearer doesn’t get bored of quickly. A chance research into vintage jewelry prompted Dina to design a small selection based on the shape of signet rings. It did really well and she added more pieces to her collection. Dina uses five different colors and five varied textures for her jewelry and crafts appealing stackable combos. Her wrap-around clip-on bracelet and loop pendent featuring a magnifying lens are eye-catching. Dina, who does commissioned pieces, also designs cufflinks for men.
What we love most: Dina’s modern take on the classic signets rings. We love that she has done her bit to bring pinky rings back into fashion.
The last name says it all – Mouzannar. Dori Mouzannar is the sixth generation of jewelers dating back to the 1800s. For him, being part of the family jewelry business is not just a line of work; it is also a hobby. In his quest for inspiration, the designer seeks out things he finds beautiful and, sometimes, even the perceived ugly – Dori loves to see his thoughts taking form and gradually being transformed into visual creations. The designer signs all his voluminous pieces with a little red ruby; it was the first stone he ever worked with and his favorite.
What we love most: Wearable sculptures by Dori, accented with a tiny red ruby. We admire his belief that each piece should be crafted to perfection.
Just back from Caravan Beirut, pop-up event, in Washington DC, Indian-Lebanese sisters Maya, Meena and Zeenat Mukhi are busy with their soon-to-be-launched collection. Zeenat and Maya make up the design team, drawing upon anything and everything for inspiration, and this time it is nature. When the trio decided to discover Lebanon via hiking, they decided to capture nature’s rich shades and mystical energy through the collection - Reverie On The Vine (ROTV).
Matte yellow gold, vibrant colors, rich greens, mirrors that reflect the soul, pearls for contrast, and motifs from nature come together in earrings, pendants, rings, bracelets and hair buckles for ROTV. Subtle yet bold, vibrant yet sober – their creations comprise talismans, maxi pieces, stackables and mini-pieces.
What we love most: Playful designs and stackable jewelry by the Mukhi Sisters. We dig the boho-chic, ethnic meets urban look.
After working in the advertising industry for 10 years, Nada Ghazal decided to pursue her childhood fascination for jewelry. She had always wanted to connect with women through her fine jewelry collections and thus launched her brand Nada G Fine Jewelry. The first collection, Chaos, had around 25 handmade pieces created by woven strings of gold interspersed with pearls, precious and semi-precious stones. In 2012, the brand was chosen as the ‘Rising Star’ at JCK. Her later popular collection Matrix, a shiny vibrant encased in a flamboyant ribcage ring, captured her thoughts on Lebanon in an artistic way, while Nada’s Boy Meets Girl series was an amalgam of her boyish side and feminine, fun side. The designer currently has two distinct lines – The Collections and The Exclusives. Interestingly, Nada has now decided to launch a few smaller collections – Matches, Free Me and Outburst – throughout the year.
What we love most: The Resolutions palm cuffs, Matrix bangle cuffs and rings, Baby Malak pinky rings and Matches pendants. We really like Nada’s penchant for mixing and matching stones in color and size and her play with shapes.
Nayla Arida was born in Beirut and grew up in France. She discovered her love for jewelry and began designing for the Lebanese brand Les Bazella. Soon, she yearned to create her own line and launched her eponymous label in 2009 with her first pieces being fish and frog motif jewelry. The love of contrasts between stones sees Nayla using malachite, coral, onyx and turquoise alongside precious stones for her creations. This designer’s fascination for nature has given rise to a few snake and ladybird inspired jewelry, while others hinge on wings, flowers, plumes, moon and stars, Byzantine cross and Art Deco. Nayla is currently working on her Shell collection.
What we love most: Handmade fine jewelry with a touch of whimsy. We love Nayla’s Abondance collection, featuring adorable fishes carved in a range of colored stones and encrusted with diamonds, as well as the cute gem-adorned ladybugs.
Beirut born Ralph Masri has an eclectic and bold design sensibility, one that is informed by his formative years in Lebanon, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. An alumnus of Central Saint Martins, Ralph set up his own label shortly after he graduated. The designer captures the essence of his heritage and translates them with a Western appeal into fine jewelry, which, at times, borrows from the sphere of fashion jewelry. The silhouette of Sacred Windows collection was inspired by arched windows of churches and cathedrals, while the stained glass artwork prompted Ralph to embellish the jewelry in a slew of colored precious and semi-precious gems – champagne diamonds, sapphires (in various hues), amethysts, peridots, citrines, topaz, tsavorites and garnets. His Arabesque Deco, as you’d guess, is a fusion between Middle Eastern art and architectural elements and Art Deco influence, while A Trace of Lace is a concoction of vibrant shapes evocative of the lace.
What we love most: Exciting desirable designs articulated with finesse. We are fascinated by the colorful creations from Ralph’s Sacred Windows collection and his Middle-Eastern-Western inspired Arabesque Deco line.