Originally published in the October 2017 issue of Vogue Arabia
Having only launched his brand a little over five years ago, Ralph Masri may be typecast as an “emerging” fine jeweler, but when he speaks, he does not hesitate or stumble over words. His confidence is belied by a firm understanding of purpose. His jewelry – statement pieces made with thin, sophisticated lines – are drawn with steady precision. Struck by his inherent talent and drive, the DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize 2016 judges named him honorary fine jewelry winner, cementing his status as one to watch in the competitive world of contemporary fine jewelry. Soon afterwards, Gigi Hadid was spotted wearing one of his rings at London Fashion Week. Then, in May, HM Queen Rania of Jordan was filmed at a Google Zeitgeist interview with her pulled-back hair showing off Ralph Masri Phoenician script zig zag earrings. Weeks later, she donned his rose gold arabesque earrings, and the connecting lines of her matching cuff offered a symbolic conversation of the historic gravitas of her centuries-old region. Seemingly overnight, a star was born.
Related: Queen Rania Shines in Ralph Masri
“Since Her Majesty wore my jewelry for the occasion of Jordan’s anniversary of independence, I have had people come to my store asking for the Queen Rania pieces,” says Masri. The story of the self made man spread across the Arab world and beyond. At Harvey Nichols Dubai – which rarely carries young fine jewelry brands – his pieces now sit next to Boucheron and David Yurman. He shares that he will continue to look Westwards to expand his brand, with Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman as new targets, yet his inspiration remains his home: Lebanon.
“I recently visited Tripoli. There is a whole abandoned complex of Oscar Niemeyer buildings; these plain, unfinished concrete structures,” says Masri, whose eye gravitates to structure and linear definitions. Showcasing his new pieces, debuting on these pages, the circles within circles motif represents a study of ergonomic flow and hours of testing to master proportions. “I started exploring the Niemeyer movement further. Architecture, along with history, are sources of inspiration. I’ve also studied the Le Corbusier buildings in Lebanon. I like structure; things that are defined.”
Masri’s new collection, Modernist, looks to the architecture of the mid-century era for a selection of 24 pieces, each offered in two colorways: white gold set with diamonds and blue sapphires, or rose gold set with light and dark pink sapphires. If Masri draws his lines with the precision of a master planner, the colors make the jewelry dance. Motioning to the new hoop-in-hoop and triangle earrings, he says, “If done right they can accent a woman beautifully. I think the lines can highlight those of a woman’s face and neck.” His serious gaze breaks into a smile. “Yes, I’m overworked, but you know, this is everything that I’ve been working towards.”