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How One Saudi Designer is Making Her (Royal) Mark on Fine Jewelry

In the fashion industry, editors are regularly introduced to beautiful things and habitually get up close and personal with covetable clothes, shoes, bags, and jewels—call it an occupational hazard. And so, following another Couture Week rife with analyzing “beautiful things,” I accepted an invitation to a hidden space a stone’s throw away from Paris’ storied Place Vendôme to take a closer look at the designs of a French fine jewelry brand entirely helmed by a Saudi designer.

Once inside, and following a rapid overview of the fine jewelry pieces unpretentiously laid out on glass plates, I looked over at the unassuming woman standing before me, with a feeling that I had come face-to-face with one of the region’s uniquely skilled talents. The young woman who gave me a welcoming smile was indeed the designer I had come to meet: HRH Nourah Al Faisal.

Later, a conversation with Princess Deena Abdulaziz—the director and co-founder of D’NA and a woman whom many consider to be a veritable encyclopedia on fashion—confirmed my initial sentiment. “Nourah’s work is exceptional and, I want to say, unparalleled in the region. The closest comparison I can give would be JAR by Joel Rosenthal [one of the most revered French fine jewelry makers alive today]. There’s a detail and workmanship [to Nuun Jewels] that is seldom found in jewelry making today.”


HRH Nourah Al Faisal showcased her first jewelry pieces in London at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel over 16 years ago. At the time, a lady who had a shop in Saudi Arabia had come to learn that Al Faisal was interested in jewelry and invited the young woman to show her sketches. “At that stage, I had never even been to a workshop,” Al Faisal confesses to me over an espresso in her rue St. Honoré office. “But she really wanted to have a young Saudi woman at the exhibition; so she took my sketchbook, and my hand, and together we came to Paris. We went from workshop to workshop until we found one that could make my pieces.” Al Faisal laughs, “They were very early—and they were very bad.”

Fast forward to the present day and numerous private commissions for friends and family later and Al Faisal is on the cusp of opening the first Nuun Jewels boutique in Paris, across from the storied Le Bristol Hotel. “Jewelry was a hobby—it really wasn’t anything serious,” Al Faisal reminisces as she recalls growing up around gems, undoubtedly some of the most extraordinary collections in the world. Al Faisal explains that she loved jewelry from an early age—and design, in general—and studied interior design in London. “All the while I continued to create pieces here and there; I was always experimenting with wood, rubies, emeralds, coral, and jade.”

Following the first London exhibition in the late 1990s, Al Faisal received an invite to take part in a jewelry-making workshop. “My parents were excited—and my father was especially supportive,” remembers Al Faisal. “He just loved Paris. While he was still alive, he always said that I should have done more with [jewelry], but he passed away before Nuun was established.” Al Faisal’s voice trails off momentarily, and for a moment the woman before me grapples with the realization that, in his absence, she indeed accomplished what her father dreamed for her.

She adds, “If she could—and for a while she did—my mother would literally buy everything I’ve ever made. People would call me and say, ‘We need to see the stuff before your mother does.’” Al Faisal shares with me that her eye for detail was inherited from her mother, and motions to the extraordinary pieces before us, explaining modestly, “You do what you can and you buy the best quality stones that you can find. I was never doubtful about the quality of workmanship because from the first piece I ever made until this one, I’ve always been very clear about the quality of the work—I know when something is good.” Al Faisal adds, “If there was anything I was worried about, it was my style—that is something you either like or you don’t.”

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