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Discover the Saudi Jewelry Brands Celebrating the Past While Embracing the Future of Design

Saudi jewelry brands are celebrating the past while embracing the future of design. Should they look beyond their Kingdom’s geographical borders for inspiration?

Yataghan Jewellery

Linking modernity with the traditions of the past, the contemporary jewelry design scene in Saudi Arabia reflects a sense of self, place, and the yearning for an innovative future. More than representing a simple connect between past and present, creations are often an expression of identities; a mélange of backgrounds and experiences as rich as its homeland itself. Since time immemorial, this has been a land of prosperous kingdoms, bustling souqs, nomadic people, and a locus of cultural and intellectual. exchange. As it continues to diversify and transition away from its dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia has been nurturing and broadening its creative industries. A new generation of jewelry designers is championing traditional Saudi art and craftsmanship as vital narratives of history and identity, as well as communicating their relevance to contemporary global culture.

Dalal Jewelry

“I am inspired by the beauty and simplicity of Saudi Arabian design, and I try to incorporate these elements into my own work,” says Haneen Saber, a Jeddah native who established her eponymous brand in 2017. From her very first calligraphy-inspired collection, her timeless pieces off ered representations of the Kingdom’s abundant cultural heritage. Informed by Islamic principles and the mathematical patterns that abound in nature, traditional Saudi art, textiles, and architecture are awash with intricate geometric designs, which Saber often combines with the bright colors used in Saudi art to create a sense of joy, balance, and harmony in her delicate pieces. She is one of many designers looking to her country for literal inspiration. Undoubtedly, the symbolism of “homeland” and nati e culture are deep-seated sources of creativity for generations of Saudis. But are the nati on’s designers inhibiting their creative juices by focusing on their country alone for inspiration?

Haneen Saber Ablaq necklace

After the demise of colonialism in the region and the acquired Arab independence, the idea of patriotism took root, impacting almost all creative spheres. “Nationalism and civic pride motivate people to create work that exemplifies the goals and values of their community,” says Dr Nazli Balkir Neftci, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the Canadian University Dubai. In Middle Eastern creative processes, these ideas are considerably more pervasive and broadly accepted than in Western cultures, namely due to the region’s colonial history. This contributed to a backlash against foreign influence and a desire to assert native cultural identity. “By highlighting the unique elements of their ancestry, nationalism and civic pride help restore a sense of sovereignty and self-determinati on and serve to maintain and honor the Middle East’s rich history and culture,” concludes Dr Neftci. For the sake of history, past, present, and future, these are necessary recollections for artists to document in their own way.

Lillian Ismail Jewelry

Influenced by his family legacy in the jewelry business, and having grown up in a creative home environment, Mohammed Fitaihi was taught from an early age to appreciate the subtle nuances of Saudi culture. In 1997, he established his brand M.Fitaihi, taking inspiration from the sublime curves and lines of the Arabic alphabet, creating unique pieces in the Kufic script. “Saudi culture is as wide and diverse as it is geographically spread,” shares Fitaihi. “The unique cultural traits from Hijaz and Najd for example are worth being relayed to the next generations. But the trick here is how to interpret them in an appealing way.”

Haneen Saber Shajarat Al-Durr earrings

The government has launched a series of initiatives that are designed to create a talent-led market, with the aim of placing Saudi Arabia as a hub of creativity and cross-cultural engagement. The Ministry of Culture creates programs aimed at Saudi fashion designers and brands seeking to take their businesses to the next level. It offers masterclasses and one-to-one mentorship, connecting local talents with the world’s leading industry experts. “It is a game changer, both in how the designers interact with the wider markets, and how international markets view the contemporary fashion and design culture in the Kingdom,” says Sarah Abudawood, founder of Yataghan Jewellery. A certified gemologist, Abudawood blends her love of architecture, geometric perspectives, and Arabic poetry to create her elegant pieces. “Local designers celebrate and maintain the essence of Saudi culture, and infuse it with contemporary minimalist design that appeals to international markets,” she continues. “Saudi Arabia has always had an allure to it. Now through fashion and design, we are able to give the world a unique window onto our beloved Kingdom.”

Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

Read Next: HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal on Preserving and Celebrating Saudi History as CEO of Art of Heritage

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