Almost everyone agrees that jewelry added to an outfit makes the dark lighter, the sad happier, and the boring more fun. This extra accessory does not only enhance one’s outer appearance but adds a twist of uniqueness and a window of self-expression.
Sheikha Fatima bint Mohammad bin Sager Al-Qassimi, granddaughter of the Ruler of Ras AlKhaimah, is one of the most influential jewelry designers in the Gulf region. Her creations are a beautiful and elegant twist to traditional Arabic jewelry; a niche she’s carved for herself regionally and worldwide.
Khaleejesque got a chance to interview this hard-working designer, and will give you a sneak peak into the world of Sheikha Fatima and her modern day designs.
What made you pursue jewelry design?
Designing is all that I ever wanted to do. Jewelry is one aspect that I was interested in and that I have started with. I loved gemology and collected stones since an early age, which is what helped carve my venture into jewelry in the first place.
How would you describe your designs?
My designs are what I call a reflection of my personality. They are different and I don’t stick to one method or style; I am an artist at heart and that makes me a free soul like my designs. I go from chunky to simple, classic to funky.
You were the first in the region to design, and make Arabesque inspired jewelry, what inspired you to do that?
I consider myself as well as every individual as unique from one another, thus my want to create a piece that is personal. Arabic calligraphy is amazing and very beautiful so I combined that with a customized technique by using and creating the letters of my clients’ first name.
What inspires you (generally)?
My inspiration comes from everything. It can be the smell of coffee to the taste of good chocolate, from a good friend to a line on a leaf. I don’t think you need to search for inspiration; as soon as I get struck, I start researching and then create a collection based on that. One of my collections was inspired from my love of Dubai. I called it The Dubai Love bracelets. It was a collection of 8 bracelets, all of which was a different word that describes Dubai in my heart and in the opinions of others.
Do you take part in all aspects when making the jewelry after designing it?
I have learned to make the jewelry, but I don’t really make all my jewelry myself; however, I monitor the craftsmen and supervise their work to get it the way I actually designed it.
Did you find support from society/your country and the Gulf?
I get a lot of support from people from all over the world; I was really surprised at first. I also get emails and letters from people in UAE, the GCC and even from Europe and the USA. My customers are my best supporters, and I get excited and proud when I see people I don’t know wearing my jewelry and posting pictures in their personal websites and blogs.
What are some of the difficulties you faced when you started jewelry design?
It was hard for me to make people believe in my work and in me, especially that the jewelry market is full of great and experienced designers. Being a woman and a member of the royal family, it was hard to convince people in the business that I was serious and committed to my work. The hardest part was to enter the business and know how to deal with common issues such as buying the stones and managing workshops.
Who is your role model when it comes to jewelry design?
I can give u a very long list of designers, but one that stands out from my list is Ambaji Shindi who designed for the biggest Jewelry houses in the world like Cartier. My role model of all time however is Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the father of Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He started Dubai with a vision that is now being continued by his son- Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum- which is to develop and propel Dubai into the international limelight. He was a risk taker who believed in Dubai and if it was not him, Dubai would not be what it is now.
Is there a demand for Fatima Al-Qassimi designed jewelry abroad (not in the Gulf)?
I got offers to sell in the USA, Europe and North America, which I am considering and working on now. I want to expand my designs globally, especially because people in the West are interested to learn about our culture and about women in the Arab world.
Any tips you'd like to share with upcoming artists/designers in the Gulf?
The roads are not always paved and easy, but nothing is impossible. Working hard will get anyone anywhere they want. Put love into your work and with passion you will be able to succeed; failure happens but if you have the passion it will give you the strength to continue and to propel beyond your expectations.
Make sure to check out Fatima Al-Qassimi's website http://www.fqassimi.com/ for more information.
Images courtesy of Fatima Al-Qassimi Designs
– Dana A. Taqi for Khaleejesque.