“All my life, I’d looked up to people like Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi. I studied political science and I wanted to be a politician; I had absolutely no plans whatsoever to do anything related to jewelry,” starts fine jeweler Dima Rashid. She discovered her talent almost by accident. When a close friend was hospitalized for a long period of time, Rashid set out to purchase some beads in an effort to keep her distracted. What she anticipated would be a short visit to a London bead store soon manifested into a life turning point and a newfound fascination with jewelry making.
“By coincidence, a class was taking place at the shop at the same time as I arrived. I joined it and then I signed up for the class that followed, too. I arrived in the morning and didn’t leave until night – I loved the experience,” she recalls. “Initially, I redesigned jewelry pieces that I owned. Some got ruined, but I was obsessed,” she laughs.
Rashid began designing on a small scale for family and friends, and launched her first official trunk show at her home in 2003, selling to a wider clientele five months later. “While the show was a great success, I felt overwhelmed by the business side,” she says, sharing that she felt out of her depth negotiating prices and answering requests to change designs. She even considered shutting down the business “and never doing it again.” Then her mother stepped in to oversee the main showroom and atelier in Cairo with 18 craftsmen, along with operations, accounting, and management. “It wouldn’t have been possible without her,” says Rashid. “My mother takes care of the business, while I design.” Outside of Egypt, the brand has showrooms in London, Jeddah, and Dubai, while her collections are stocked everywhere from Harvey Nichols to Erickson Beamon.
Crafted from 18ct gold and set with precious and semi-precious stones and diamonds, Dima Rashid Jewellery is recognized for its unique blend of tradition, modernity, and color. The light of warmer months inspires her. “I love the sea, its sand, and the sun,” she shares. “I like roses, jasmine, and colors. That’s what makes me happy and when I’m happy, I create.”
Her anniversary collection is a small capsule of strong statement pieces. Rare black jade is set in gold rings carved in reptile shapes, highlighted with diamond and ruby strands. Turquoise earrings feature the carved portrait of Mother Mary from which dangle three citrine drops. A further black jade piece–alligator and snake earrings–feature large rubies that appear to drop from the creatures’ tails. Stones are selected to promote emotions of harmony and well-being. “I have always had something for gemstones. My father used to collect gems, and since I was a little girl, I would enjoy differentiating aquamarines from torques and rubies,” she says.
Rashid enthusiastically speaks in Egyptian Arabic with a Palestinian accent and inter-mingles English, displaying her rich and varied background. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian heritage, she was raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, before moving to Palestine for two years, and finally settling in Egypt. Her heritage is reflected in her collections, which are inspired by a modern flair influenced by the past. Rashid was one of the first designers who managed to successfully recreate Middle Eastern traditional old coins and craft icon-infused jewelry into fine contemporary pieces for an international clientele that includes Queen Rania of Jordan, Injy El Mokkaddem, Gigi Hadid, and Naomi Campbell. “Dima has an iconic personality that reflects in her designs,” says celebrity fan Yousra. “Whatever statement piece I wear, you can always recognize it’s a Dima.”
“Here, Arab women love my jewelry,” muses Rashid. “And I sold in New York more than a lot of other designers because of my Eastern touch. Overall, Eastern and Western women will be able to find themselves in my pieces, as the mood of my collections carries it all.”
Originally published in the February 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia