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Celebrity-Loved Egyptian Jewelry Designer Jude Benhalim on Her Latest Collection

Middle East’s jewelry scene has seen the rise and rise of Cairo-based designer Jude Benhalim. Inspired by Egypt’s rich history with accessories, Benhalim’s creations are traditionally Arabic with modern influences. By blending the oriental together with contemporary art, Benhalim provides a fresh twist in her earrings, necklaces, and cuffs. The Cairo-based designer is launching her new collection The Butterfly Effect, which was inspired by the intricate details, including shapes, patterns, textures, and design, of the graceful butterfly.

Small Skipper Earrings and Ringlet Ring from the Butterfly collection. Supplied

Several pieces from the latest collection feature butterfly wings that have been handcrafted with sterling silver, 18k gold, brass, and custom-made resin stones. Ahead of Benhalim’s FW’19 collection launch in mid-October, talks to the emerging jewelry designer about her journey in the world of diamonds, gold, and silver.


What is your earliest jewelry memory?

As a little girl, I used to love stringing beads and making colorful bracelets for my friends and family. When I was 7-years-old, I made a collection of beaded jewelry and sold it by the beach in the summer, and I remember feeling so happy when they sold out!  


When did you know you wanted to be a jewelry designer?

Growing up I’ve always loved creating pieces as well as doing arts and crafts, so I always knew I’d end up with a career that would feed my creative side. It was around high school that I decided to take on this project and founded my brand at the age of 17.


What is the story behind your label?

 Having lived my entire life in Egypt, I grew up in an ideal environment for pursuing design. My mother was working in the fashion industry and my father was an architect. But, it was a school project that drew me into designing. As part of the IB program in high school, I had to complete a creative design project of my choice. Since jewelry was always a big interest of mine, I chose to make a debut collection of beaded jewelry and sold it at a trunk show for charity. The event was a big success and everyone was very encouraging of my work, in fact, they were very impressed that I was only 17. I found myself enjoying the design process, and it was very rewarding to see my sketches come to life. It was a big shift in my career plans, but that’s when I knew I should start my label. I founded the brand in 2011 with my partner and mother, Rana Al Azm, who has been the main force behind the success of our brand. 


What is the most special piece of jewelry that you own?

 One of my oldest designs is the Bullet Choker. It’s a very special piece because it was a huge success, and one summer, every girl on the beach was wearing my choker. It marked a big turning point for the brand and that’s why it’s very dear to me.


If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing?
Since I majored in Film at university, I always had a dream to become a director, and I think that’s what I would be doing if not designing. I love movies! 


What is your biggest challenge as an Arab designer?

 In the past few years, we’ve witnessed an amazing boom in the Arab fashion industry, and the Arab world is surely marking its place in the global fashion map. This gives brands like mine a really good chance to stand out internationally. But still, I’d say the biggest challenge is gaining the trust of the international fashion market in Arab designs and Arab production as well as their trust in the consistency of Arab brands. It’s a very competitive market, and to stand out as an Arab designer has been quite a challenge. 


In what ways does your Arab culture inspire your designs?

There is a big role that is played by my Arabic heritage when it comes to designing my pieces. I like to describe the aesthetic of my work as a combination of contemporary art and oriental Arabic craft, resulting in a young and modern take on traditional Arabic jewelry. 


What can you tell us about the Butterfly Collection in terms of inspiration and technique?
Both sweet and symbolic, the graceful butterfly is a powerful emblem of growth and transformation. “The Butterfly Effect” Collection features a series of pieces that are evocative of spread butterfly wings. I aimed to channel the shapes and patterns found in the intricate butterfly to create my illustration of the transversal butterfly motif. The collection is handcrafted in a spectrum of metals: from sterling silver and 18k gold to brass dipped in gold and features custom-made resin stones. The collection experiments with the ideas of depth and perspective, and features a striking fall color palette as well as an abstract cutout detailing. 


Where do you see your brand in 10 years?

I am hoping that with the right strategy, the business will continue to grow to compete in the international fashion market. I see it expanding internationally and having international branches.


Discover more from Jude Benhalim’s Fall 2019 collection in the gallery below.

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