As the popularity of handmade crafts continues to grow, we talk to local jewellery designers about the art of creating something preciously unique.
Whether it’s a huge, bright statement piece or a more subtle touch, there’s no doubt that a great piece of jewellery can really complete an outfit.
But with today’s fast fashion culture and mass-produced accessories everywhere we look, it can often be difficult to find a piece that suits your taste and tells a story that goes beyond the factory it was made in.
Telling a tale through jewellery is something that artist and silversmith Naida Abbas believes in wholeheartedly. The Russian-born artist made her first piece aged 12, and has been designing and dreaming up new ideas ever since.
“Jewellery is such a statement about you; it must be personal,” she tells us. “It’s just like your style – everything you wear represents who you are. Historically, many leaders and sheikhs have worn a ring on their index finger – jewellery has more power than we think.
“I’m always trying to express myself or say something through my jewellery. You can wear a pretty thing and have it just be pretty – but I want to do better than that; I want to speak through my artwork.
“For me, jewellery is not a luxury, it’s a communication between the artist and the observer. With my pieces, I want to make people think, wonder, question and learn.”
For Lynda Marion Murray and Beverley Bradley, founders of Lynda and Beverley Jewellery, it’s exactly this deeply personal connection between the wearer and one of their pieces that inspires them to create.
From opposite ends of the globe, both came to the art as a hobby that grew into a passion. After meeting at a local craft fair here in Abu Dhabi, they decided to join forces to create unique pieces for people looking for a side of personality along with their accessories.
From bracelets stamped with uplifting messages to handcrafted pendants, the pair works with customers to create bespoke pieces that immortalise memories, events
and images in silver that are deeply personal to each individual.
“If you design something, not everyone will love it – someone will though,” Beverley tells us. “Jewellery is so personal like that. Our designs are quite different. Everybody has their own ideas, too, and it’s always lovely when someone has designed a piece with you and then you see them wearing it – it’s special and precious to them. It’s lovely to think that someone’s gone away with something you’ve made, that you’ve put your heart and soul into.”
It was a firm belief in the importance of a homegrown, community industry that welded Lynda and Beverley’s businesses together, and it forms the heart of what they do.
“People really like to know that we’ve made something with our own hands, and that personal touch and being able to interact with our customers face to face is a huge factor,” Lynda stresses.
Beverley agrees – but notes that there’s a little more to the process than threading beads on a string: “Some people don’t believe we truly do it ourselves. We hammer, saw and use a blowtorch – the jewellery is the glamorous end result, but what you don’t see is us covered in dust in our workshop.”
From necklaces to rings, bracelets and even silver bookmarks all adorned with a personal touch, the pair draws inspiration for their designs from hours of online research and by observing what goes on around them.
“Our inspiration comes from so many different places, for example we may see something someone is wearing, and use that as a starting point – or Pinterest always has some great ideas,” Lynda says. “Once we have an idea, we will sketch a basic design, and work out what is needed for it, then get to work. Often, the item turns out quite differently to what we originally had in mind, but that’s also fun!”
For Naida, the world around her is enough to spark a new design. From architecture to Emirati history, abstract art and even a stretch of concrete she can see from her apartment window, she tries to see the extraordinary in everyday things and makes them resplendent in silver and gold.
“I see inspiration everywhere,” she smiles. “Architecture, people, relationships, objects, experiences… I get an idea sometimes in the middle of the night, or when I’m driving. I write them down, I sketch them, I develop them into ideas.
“One thing I love is tricking the eye,” she adds. “I love working on impossible perspectives, like the artist MC Escher – from one angle, it looks like one thing, but from the other, it’s totally different.”
For Naida, Lynda and Beverley, it’s this sense of uniqueness in a sea of manufactured jewellery that makes the creative process so special.
“Even though it’s handmade, it’s finished beautifully – it can’t look like it’s handmade,” Lynda notes. “You’ll never see anything exactly the same. If someone loves a ring we’ve made, the one we make for them will never be the same as that one they saw; it’ll be 100 percent unique. That’s really exciting.
“We put everything we’ve got into it,” she pauses, then chuckles ruefully. “You should see our scars.”
Need to know
Naida Abbas: instagram.com/naida_abbas
Lynda and Beverley Jewellery: facebook.com/lyndaandbeverleyjewellery
Pearls of wisdom
Do It Yourself
Eager to make your own jewellery? From learning the art of silversmithing to designing your own pieces, these courses can help get you started…
Abu Dhabi Art Hub: Led by German goldsmith and designer Lia Staehlin, these weekly classes at Abu Dhabi Art Hub aim to give participants a solid grasp of basic jewellery techniques. Try your hand at wax moulding, sawing, filing, soldering and stone setting under expert guidance. AED 450 for one session, booking required three days in advance. World Trade Center Mall, Hamdan Street. Thu 10am–1pm. Contact: 055 550 9640, adah.ae
Don Sankey Silversmith: If you have a group of like-minded friends who want to learn the trade, then Dubai-based silversmith Don Sankey will set up shop in your home or another location to help you master the basics. During the session, you’ll get to create your own cufflinks, ring or earrings. AED 580 per person, minimum four people. Times and locations dependent on booking. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, dssilversmith.com
Want to skip the class but still craving beautiful hand-crafted jewels? Check out
these homegrown vendors…
Statement by Nisha: The key is in the name with this local jewellery brand, where
bigger is better. Expect large, chunky accessories with heaps of intricate detail. Visit: croutique.com/statement-by-nisha
Rainstone: If beautiful, twinkling gems are your style, then check out Rainstone, which stocks earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more in a variety of lush hues. Visit: rainstone.co
Chirpy by Oz: Proving that brighter is better, Chirpy by Oz lives up to its name with a range of vibrant necklaces, bracelets and more for jewellery lovers that like to stand out. Many pieces feature handmade clay beads for that extra handcrafted touch. Visit: instagram.com/chirpy_uae
WORDS Camille Hogg