Self-proclaimed jewelry designers are a dime a dozen here in Egypt, but few such as Sarah Abaza stand out for their creativity and unique brand identity.
Abaza has been designing and making jewelry for over two years, at first with the assistance of her jeweler who would execute her designs.
“I’m really taking my sweet time to [develop my brand], I’ve grown slowly what with two kids to juggle as well, said Abaza.
But today, with the support of her husband, the encouragement of her friends and very happy clients, Abaza’s brand has garnered much attention, and her designs – with practice and self-study – have become far more complex.
Although she never studied jewelry design, she takes the time to read up on gems, stones, and design techniques, constantly educating herself through travels and reading.
Her jewelry reflects her concept of design: quality craftsmanship and originality.
Abaza likes to pair gems in an interesting manner. The colors are bold and, in some pieces, can clash and become visually arresting.
She started off designing pieces with an Oriental touch of evil eyes and turquoise stones. Her latest offerings for the fall collection include references to the great jewelry traditions of the Turkish art-deco that was so prevalent in the 40s and 50s. Those coveted vintage pieces passed down by Grandma have a very singular look and beauty.
Abaza has been quite successful in fusing some elements of this style with modern techniques and colors. The result? Seeing Abaza in a new light – a designer in the strictest sense.
Her fall collection, which she broke down into four lines, has something for everyone. After Dark fuses gold and black, and their contrast evokes something Venetian in the thin dark lines. Her Oriental Fantasy line continues with the fine filigree work designs, and her Luxury line carries one or two limited pieces of each design, many of which incorporate diamonds.
But it’s Nostalgia that really takes the cake. Rose cut diamonds are paired with amethysts and topaz, an unlikely combination back in say 1947, but today seems so appropriate. “I try to be original in their color composition, said Abaza.
But with price tags of up to LE 30,000 for some of the limited edition pieces, is anyone buying her designs? “People are not buying less these days, my biggest buyers in a sense are recession proof, and people still buy gifts [for special occasions]. This stuff never stops, said Abaza.
Abaza also credits her flourishing business to typical Egyptian investment considerations: gold always carries its value. “It’s an old Egyptian mentality: People are more willing to invest their money in jewelry and gold which has helped me get a very good reach into the older client group, says Abaza.
But, she never intended her pieces to be inaccessible or expensive for that matter. Prices for simple bracelets start at LE 400 and up. “I didn’t want my jewelry to be a super expensive line, I’m not looking to sell something inaccessible, I love it when single working girls save up to buy a piece of mine.
Abaza’s creations are not simply restricted to women. Her Little Treasures line features jewelry and charms for babies, a perfect gift for newborns.
A men’s line is also in the works and some of Abaza’s prototypes were made to be tried by her willing and stylish brother. With prices ranging from LE 300 to LE 3,000 Abaza is still considering how to best design a men’s line for the average Egyptian man who doesn’t wear much jewelry.
“I still have to test the men’s line, not everyone is as cool as my brother, she said laughingly.
Sarah Abaza jewelry is available in HIP Elements, Amman Square, Mohandiseen and Beymen, Four Seasons Nile Plaza.