Resilient, fearless, and determined to put the fun into fine jewelry, Nadine Ghosn explains why her new collection is the perfect antidote to 2020.
“Lebanese people are the single most strong-minded individuals I have ever come across,” says jewelry designer Nadine Ghosn. “They do not fall victim to their situation but get up and try again. After the explosion on August 4 last year, I was impressed by how many people supported one another and worked together to rebuild both the city and the country’s morale – the sense of community and genuine love was palpable.”
Born in the US of Lebanese and Brazilian descent, Ghosn has always tapped into her heritage; in fact, it was her admiration for the local Lebanese craftsmen who have honed their jewelry-making skills across generations that triggered her initial interest in jewelry design. With no formal training, she realized a collaboration could be mutually beneficial: she would learn everything she could from local artisans in exchange for her business, thereby preserving and supporting an industry under threat. This was back in 2015 and her education culminated in the launch of her first pop culture-inspired collection a year later: bold, tongue-in-cheek designs – hamburger rings, paperclip necklaces – with high quality gemstones.
“When I launched my brand I was told multiple times that it wouldn’t sell, it was not fine jewelry,” she says, reflecting. “However, I felt that people had an appetite for something different, something they could relate to and enjoy. I wanted to bring a novel approach to what felt like the stuffy universe of fine jewelry.”
Awards, high fashion retailers, and celebrity fans followed and all the while Ghosn remained true to her whimsical DNA, creating quirky diamond-encrusted headphone necklaces, sushi pendants, and BIC bracelets. “My collections are highly influenced by my personal journey,” she says. “Back to School was created at a time when I was applying for my MBA and I was coming across stationery, which yet again is universal to us all: simple and unluxurious yet powerful in its message of storytelling, education, and power.” New to Ghosn’s house of fun is Building Blocks, a typically bold and playful collection of LEGO inspired designs that might be her best work yet – the concept itself born from a time and place where there is nothing else for it, but to rebuild.
“Last year was a year that has forced us to reflect and revisit our norms,” she says. “The concept of building blocks came easily to me the moment I found myself resorting to LEGO for my visual merchandising. The pieces have all of the qualities that resonate with my brand: color, simplicity, and childhood familiarity.”
Referring to 2019 as “a time when I felt like my life as I knew it was breaking open,” Ghosn has channeled her fragility into her craft. “Through this personal journey I thankfully came through reminding myself that when things fall apart we build them back up – stronger than before.”
Two years in the making, the creation of Building Blocks was technically complex, challenging Ghosn and her team to master the art of stone-shaping in one cutting (to form the blocks), without chips or irregularities. “My favorite piece was the most complex to make,” she says. “I absolutely love the jade building block ring; it really is one block, not multiple pieces glued together. This kind of one-time-cut standard is hard to come by. It was only after a year and a half that I finally approved the prototype because I wanted this piece to be launched perfectly and organically in its simplicity. I hope this labor of love can be seen and appreciated.”
Conceptually pensive and innovative in its practical creation, Building Blocks will resonate with both current fans of the brand and those looking for a symbol of strength – a badge of honor, if you will, for making it through such a voracious year. “It is my wish that each piece from this collection serves as a reminder that any of life’s challenges can be overcome, step by step, block by block.”
Originally published in the January 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia