SPA — Saudi women, enjoying great support from the Saudi government, have accomplished remarkable achievements and excel in various fields.
As Custodian of the two holy mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said at the W20, the G20 women’s engagement group, held in October 2020: “Women are the source of development for any society.”
Saudi women have been showing potential in many fields, demonstrating their competence and creativity. One area where they shine is jewelry design. Displaying a unique vision and ability to translate the requirements of present times into pieces that reflect the Saudi heritage and culture in a distinctive and eye-catching way, Saudi women designers stand out.
Several institutions in the country have lent support to designers to help them follow their dreams. The Fashion Commission, for example, came up with programs and initiatives that help refine the skills of women designers and help them shine locally and internationally. The commission launched the “Saudi 100 Brands” program, which provides training and mentoring for a year, group and individual counseling sessions, and virtual and face-to-face training workshops to give competitive advantages to the Saudi fashion industry.
Colleges and institutes have also been keen to offer specialized programs in the field of jewelry design.
Keen and proud to preserve the Saudi heritage and show the Kingdom’s culture in most of their jewelry designs, many produce exquisite pieces of the highest quality.
One successful designer is Hanan Bannoub, who has been practicing the profession since 1996. Taking one of the most well-known sayings the Saudis have as inspiration, she created a distinctive piece of jewelry that reflects Saudis’ determination and pride.
Talking to SPA about the design of “The Strength of the Mountain,” said that she, “as a Saudi designer, was greatly influenced by what His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, said: ‘The Saudis’ strength is like that of the Tuwaiq mountain,’ so I decided to engrave these words on a piece of gold that Saudi women could wear.”
She thus designed an 18-carat gold bracelet that represents the Tuwaiq Mountain, and on it, she engraved “The Strength of the Mountain” in Arabic.
The bracelet is decorated with emeralds and diamonds to render the colors of the Saudi flag. It was popular at the Unique Jewelry Exhibition, held in Riyadh in 2021, she said.
Producing unique pieces of jewelry is an arduous process that, according to Bannoub, goes through many stages. It all begins with the inspiring idea that is then drawn on paper with all the details, including dimensions, then discussions with the jeweler who decides whether the piece can be crafted, and whether there might be obstacles to address on the way, and finally, the materials — gold and stones — are selected, according to the design.
Bannoub says that various institutions lend their support to designers, helping them hone their skills to be able to diversify their designs. More recently, for example, the Social Development Bank sponsored a program whereby local jewelers could work with Italian counterparts to exchange ideas and expertise.
Proud of the Saudi culture and heritage, designer Sarah Abu Dawood, with 16 years of experience under her belt, combines patterns from the Middle East and the West with modern touches.
She finds inspiration in everything that surrounds her, she says, and is keen to craft her designs in a way that reflects the beauty of the wearer.
“The Saudi culture is reflected in many of my designs, such as the ‘Harfi’ collection, which celebrates the Arabic language, and ‘Roshan,’ which I designed to participate with in the Saudi 100 Brands Program,” she says.
“Roshan,” she adds, is a translation of her memory.
“As I look back at the beginning of my life and my professional journey, I cannot help but recall it in fragments—distorted reflections … a combination of random sounds, scents and colors. Vague recollections come to me as whispers to my ears and have inspired a faceted ear cuff created in 18-carat gold, encrusted with pavé diamonds and exquisite emeralds.
“Facets of brushed gold engraved with Arabic sayings deeply rooted in Saudi culture alternate with facets engraved like rawashin, one of the most prominent architectural features in my home city, Jeddah,” she adds.
Having participated in the 2021 “Saudi 100 Brands” program, Abu Dawood says it provided the opportunity to meet the most prominent trainers, help businesses develop and display designs at the most important international events, such as Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, where Saudi designers celebrated their culture and heritage and showed pride in their country.
With such initiatives and with support from the government, “the sky is the limit for fashion and jewelry designers,” she stresses.
Displaying lots of creativity and inspired by their rich culture, Saudi talents clearly have the wherewithal to soar across the borders of their country and dazzle the world.