May Heggy: The professional side of design

Safaa Abdoun
8 Min Read

Young jewelry designer May Heggy had always loved working with beads, but unlike many of her colleagues and competitors, she discards the “ever since I was a little girl I ve had this talent mantra. Heggy had decided early on that she’ll study jewelry design first before venturing into the business.

“You can’t pursue a career in designing or anything without studying it, I used to love working with beads and pulling apart my accessories and putting them together in a different way, but I didn’t want to do anything until I studied it so I d know what I’m doing, explained the young and shrewd Heggy.

Upon graduation from the American University in Cairo with a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications, Heggy took off to London to study jewelry design at Central Saint Martins College University.

Having studied the secrets of the profession at the hands of high-end jewelry designers, Heggy eventually developed a unique style of her own.

“When I’m interested or intrigued by a certain topic I start collecting all sorts of images related to this subject, from architecture to art and culture, everything, explained Heggy.

After the compilation process, she studies these images then starts drawing random sketches, which aren’t necessarily designs. She then starts the technical drawing on the geometry notebook which she later photocopies and paints. Painting the design makes her see where the light will be reflected, and the places that are too wide or too narrow.

Heggy learned this process from her professor who used to be a designer for Cartier. “She gave us all her years of experience in class and this is how they do things over there; starting from the brainstorming and collecting different images to sketching, then drawing and painting. They have been following this process for over 100 years, she said.

Specializing in semi-precious stones and silver, Heggy buys the stones and silver used in her designs from Khan El Khalili. Although she brought some materials back with her from London, she prefers the ones she buys in Egypt. “We [Egyptians] are famous for these stones all over the world, so it will be meaningless if I bought them from any other place, she said.

Going around the accessories and jewelry market in London then coming back to Egypt, Heggy noticed a huge difference. “In terms of semi-precious stones, Egypt is the place to go to. We are richer, have different cuts, and you can buy from professionals, she explained.

However, she noticed a different Khan El Khalili than the one she used to go to before. “The jewelry there was amazing, the designs were really rich and creative, but the market now is extremely limited. All the jewelry available is either Pharoanic or Islamic and the workers themselves are not used to doing anything except repeat the designs already in the market, Heggy said.

“We have everything, the tools, the stones and the labor qualified to work with these materials. The whole world learns from us so it’s really depressing that our market stopped while others in China and Asia are launching a wide range of jewelry collections every season, she added.

Nowadays there seems to be a renaissance in jewelry designers in Egypt, with women of all ages launching their collections, so how does Heggy stand out in the market?

“The most important thing I did to be different is the education, so that I would produce work of high quality, but other than this every personality is reflected in its work. There are great designers out there and there are those who aren’t and people can tell, she said.

Heggy creates a different distinct for herself by staying away from anything that has been done before, such as Arabic calligraphy and the blue eye.

The young designer has launched two collections so far, Summer 08 and Fall 08. While the summer collection was inspired by fairytales – evident in the light pastel colors she used – this season has an oriental collection inspired by One Thousand and One Nights .

“When designing I have a certain character, usually an imaginary character, for whom I make these jewelry pieces. This season she was Scheherazade, she said.

“I got the illustrations from One Thousand and One Nights and saw the themes and colors used. Moreover, I was fascinated with the stories which are a combination of Indian, Persian, Egyptian and Turkish. I was intrigued by Scheherazade who speaks Arabic, bears a Persian name and displays an Indian narrative mode, explained Heggy. “She was such a unique and smart lady, after all she was the only one who got away without being killed, she smiles.

Dark colors have been used in this collection of bracelets, pendants, necklaces, chokers and earnings.

For the upcoming Winter 08 collection, Heggy is designing jewelry that would be suitable for evening parties, bearing in mind the numerous celebrations that mark the season, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve. “There will be more classic designs that will mainly come in dark colors, shiny stones and crystals, said Heggy.

But the promised glamor of the new collection doesn’t mean Heggy isn’t an avid believer in simplicity. For her, the mistake that some Egyptian women make when it comes to jewelry, is that they wear everything at the same time. Some women turn into a Christmas tree because of this mistake, she says.

“You can’t wear a short necklace with big earnings; you can’t wear the big earnings with the big pendant and the big bracelet all together; you should wear one main item and it would be enough, she said.

The single most important jewelry tip Heggy gives out is: “Wear something that reflects your style or it will never look good on you.

Having Van Cleef and Arpels as idols, Heggy has big plans for the future which includes expanding to international markets.

“I hope to expand, prove myself in Egypt then internationally, but the place I want to make a name for myself in is London. I love it and it holds a very special place in my heart, she said.

To check out May Heggy Jewelry visit her website: or the Facebook group May Heggy Jewelry or call 0172273637

Share This Article
Leave a comment