When it comes to jewelry, we all know what we like. Some of us are huge fans of cocktail pieces while others settle for glitzier, expensive diamonds and rubies. My taste has always been one for vintage pieces that tend to have a story behind them. So it comes as no surprise that before I got the opportunity to meet with this talented designer, I was already a fan of her work, as each design holds a beautiful story from the heart. Officially designing since September 2010, May Al-Qassar brings the notion that simplicity is key with her beautiful jewelry pieces that has been a hit with an expanding clientele in the Khaleej. Meet the face behind the brand of May Jewlery
Ghadeer Al-Otaibi: How did your creative journey begin?
May Al-Qassar: I’ve been doing art for a long time, painting, photography, illustrations, designing as well, so I went to New York in 2002 to look at schools and fell in love. I fell in love with everything that it had to offer. I went to an art school as I felt I was born to be a designer in the art field. You should have seen me in my last year of high school, it was really tough as I had only applied to go to this one school in New York and Alhamdulliah I got accepted. At the beginning there were some difficulties seeing as I’m the youngest in the family, and wasn’t as responsible being the baby so the move was very hard. But I discovered myself in New York and this passion that I had for jewelry.
G.A.: It’s a bit of a journey being away from home all the way in New York. How was it?
M.A.: It was hard for me being alone, and away from home, and living alone, and doing things by myself. Think about it, first time away from home and then finding myself all the way in New York. I lived in Brooklyn; it was more residential, more real. Don’t fall for the stereotypes of Brooklyn! It’s not as tough as people make it out to be, but it helped that I set my own curfew.
G.A.: And how did your jewelry start out?
M.A.: I discovered I loved jewelry when I was in New York. Like I said, I discovered a lot of things from being there. New York is the biggest inspiration for me. I found myself always designing and sketching but that was about it. So when I came back to Kuwait, I started slow, and started making rings. Going to the gold markets here was a joy for me. I love just being around all the gold. I was also very curious about the metal. So as I said, I started off with a ring, just to try it out. To see how it would all work. Slowly by slowly it just went from me designing gifts for friends. So it upgraded from rings, to bracelets, to necklaces. And someone said to me that I should take it seriously and start a business with it. Let me just clarify, I am not a businessperson, I am an artist! I took a course, called business and design in school, but that was more about the creative side of things, not the financial aspect of it. At first I wasn’t so convinced, and slowly along the way I learnt and got the hang of things.
G.A.: What was your first proper piece of designed jewelry?
M.A.: It is my famous double ring. I won’t claim that I invented it because it was done before, obviously. So I started off with that, with a personalized touch. I love personalizing things. It took me a few months to get the design just right, and the first one was actually with the first letter of my name, the M.
G.A.: How long did that take you?
M.A.: It took me about 2 months. I didn’t want it to have just a bar. I wanted to make it personalized with stones, because I love stones, especially diamonds seeing as it’s my birthstone. So slowly I started designing and my name appeared. I also designed a set, and it was a big challenge, as it was for a wedding, and my friend wanted me to design something for her to wear on her wedding. And my designs are very simple in comparison to the extravagant way of things in Kuwait. So I had to make everything bigger. The earings bigger, the double ring bigger, use more stones. I loved the experience.
G.A.: I read somewhere on your website that it's hard for you to make jewelry because you love every piece that you make. It’s all very dear to your heart. Is it hard to let go?
M.A.: Yes! I keep telling people it is hard for me to give things away, but at the end of the day it's theirs not mine. As long as they appreciate it as much as I do, I am happy to let go. As long as my clients are happy, I am happy!
G.A.: You have a very simplistic way of making jewelry. I like how you can go from casual to a formal affair with. Is that the kind of style that you want to keep going for the brand?
M.A.: If you know me, then you know my style. You will know that this is what I am. I do designs for people, personalized items and stuff, but at the end of the day, they are my designs, so they will stay true to me. It is my brand and it is the way I want to show myself to the world that this is who I am. It is a balance. It is also a matter of taste. People love it, as I’m sure some people also don’t.
G.A.: Do you every think of taking your business internationally? Maybe back to Brooklyn?
M.A.: I have customers all around the Gulf now, in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. I would love to go back to where it all started.
G.A.: Out of all the pieces you have created, which is your favorite piece?
M.A.: Can I choose two? My double ring, because it is my first and I worked REALLY hard in designing. And the second is a personalized wedding band for my brother in law. The story behind it, the design, I think it is all-beautiful. The meaning behind it, is just absolutely beautiful. This is why I work with people. You tell me your story, and I create something for that story. They are all hand made, they are all unique.
G.A.: Is there a specific jewelry piece that you hold onto and is very dear to you?
M.A.: It isn’t mine, it is my moms, but I borrow it. It is a ruby ring with a diamond and I love it. As well as this very thin gold watch with really tiny diamonds that I love. As you have noticed by now, I don’t like chunky things, and watches are not my favorite things, but it looks like a bracelet and I love it.
G.A.: If you were to be banned from wearing jewelry and could only wear one piece, what jewelry would you choose?
M.A.: A ring. Definitely a ring.
May Jewlery is truly a gem in the Gulf as it incorporates beautiful Arabic calligraphy font into everyday pieces that will remain with you for a lifetime. To get a hold of one of these unique pieces, make sure you contact May on www.mayjewelrydesign.com and on @MayJewelry