Lebanese fine jeweler Ralph Masri is riding a deserved high having seen superstar Céline Dion wearing his designs on the promo shots for her new album Courage. “A few months ago Céline’s stylist Sydney Lopez loaned some pieces for a photoshoot. She told us it was for Céline‘s new album and tour Courage but because it was such a secretive project we didn’t actually get to see any images in advance nor even get confirmation of whether my pieces made the final cut,” recalls Masri. On seeing his work worn by Dion, he says, “This is so special to me on so many levels. First, for the obvious reason that Céline Dion is an icon I’ve always loved and this is an incredible honor. But on a more personal level, Céline was basically my childhood in Montreal [Ed note: the designer has dual Canadian-Lebanese citizenship]. To see someone I grew up with wearing my work now is surreal. Celebrity placements happen all the time but when it’s someone you love it’s always extra special.” An extra treat: inside the CD is a fold-out poster of the star in the Ralph Masri earrings.
Having just launched his fifth jewelry collection, Heliopolis, Masri decided to forego the beaches of Greece this summer to work on a new creation—a flagship store located in Downtown Beirut. Alongside the likes of Chanel, Rolex, Hermès, Armani, Boucheron, and Breitling, his eponymous brand, particularly favored by Arab royalty and more recently Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex, has positioned itself among the finest, while remaining singularly and proudly Lebanese. “Ten years ago I was an intern at Pomellato,” Masri considers. “Now, I am opening my flagship directly across from the brand,” he adds, reveling in the professional leap having taken his brand from strength to strength, with the release of collections like Arabesque Deco, Sacred Windows, Phoenician Script, and Modernist.
Designed by architect Tanios Abou Khalil, the corner store features floor-to-ceiling windows that instantly create a gallery feel. All the jewelry is displayed in glass cases embedded within a stone and marble wall appearing like gemstones in their raw form. Forgoing a traditional desk, Masri invites his clients to sit with him on a long sofa for a more intimate moment. “I didn’t want the experience for clients to feel transactional, but personal,” he comments. “We sit, talk, and play with the jewelry.”
A striking brass structure leads to stairs to an underground level where Masri has his new workshop. The design offers a strong architectural element that is translated to his work and appears like a curtain from the outside. “When lit at night, it’s beautiful to walk or drive by,” he offers. While inside is a treasure trove of jewelry that beckons. Ralph Masri Boutique, Weygand Street, Downtown Beirut