The world of jewelry is a vast one, but at the end of the day there are three very important factors that dictate the success of a jewelry brand: the quality, the innovation and the essence. The quality is the foundation of the brand, its essence is the language and the innovation speaks of continuity and authenticity. It is the monitoring of this journey that I find thrilling: an opportunity that was afforded to me with the acquaintance of Her Royal Highness Princess Nejla Bint Asem a few years ago. A fresh creative force and a young mother, my hope was for her to find a personal balance that would allow for her creativity and motherhood to spill into one another, what a truly beautiful dynamic that would be. Beautiful yet challenging, as the tug and pull of daily life takes its toll on a creative process.
As I innocently scrolled through Instagram on lockdown Friday about 8 months ago, I was intrigued by a collection of colorful eye pendants by Nejla Bint Asem, and I knew she had arrived to that wonderfully, happy medium. An intriguing collection of playful ‘evil’ eyes, gummy bear and smiley face charms and rings executed to the highest standards. To the novice, a collection such as this may be misunderstood as ‘easy’ but the only thing easy about it is its possible failure. Any misstep in design or quality could deem the collection amateurish at best, and childish at worst. With her strong eye for design, and attention to the smallest of details, the Princess was able to seamlessly bridge the worlds of pure child-like joy and sophisticated fine jewelry; presenting to the world a collection that is happy, and polished and modern and earnest all at once.
When I asked Her Royal Highness about her latest collection’s inspiration she shared, “We have collectively experienced so much grief and fear over the last year. I started designing this collection during lockdown at home with my children and it was very important for me to cultivate a space for joy and hope. My children inspire lightness and playfulness and I was reminded this year how important it is to create space for playfulness as we navigate difficulty and grief. I believe in the power of love, joy, gratitude and universality and these values continue to shape what my pieces represent. This collection is a tribute to rejoicing the beauty, wonder and sweetness of being awakened by love and compassion especially for one’s inner child.”
When I first met Her Royal Highness years ago, she had just presented a 16 pieces jewelry collaboration with famed jeweller Damas. The collection, crafted from 18K gold, turquoise and diamonds was an ode to her heritage and a celebration of cultures, bringing the East and the West together by blending traditional oriental pieces with monochromatic hues and tones. The world of mysticism has always been close to the heart of Nejla’s family, and depicting this world in a modern and creative manner was a celebration of her talent and personal beliefs.
One of her favorite pieces from the Damas collaboration was designed to look like a flower with the word, ‘love’ in Arabic inscribed all around the circumference, symbolizing love beyond the infinite. The circular shape was inspired by the Dervish twirl and Rumi, her favorite poet. She explains that, ‘’If you look at the Dervish dance from a high point, the shape you see of the robe is the same shape as the piece itself.” It is this level of authenticity in the design process that I have so much respect for. Her Royal Highness’ work is not just appreciated in our neck of the woods, Nejla Bint Asem designed a one-off piece especially for the annual philanthropic event ‘One Night for One Drop’ in Las Vegas, imagined by Cirque du Soleil. The auction was in support of One Drop, an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to safe water globally.
Nejla Bint Asem’s earliest childhood memories include her collecting and assembling materials such as stones and threads and creating charms from them. A a child her grandmother caught her passion for jewelry design and helped foster and nurture the craft. Sharing countless moments discussing gems, stones and different pieces, her grandmother would describe some of the most memorable pieces she’d seen in her time, and young Nejla would try and imagine them in her head. ‘This creative process was my happy place and I have been designing jewelry pieces for friends and family ever since.” “My creative process and journey in pursuing my passion with time became the access to my dream/flow state. Designing jewelry has always been a very intimate experience and a labour of love where my brand grew organically and I parallel with my personal life and journey to motherhood.”
It’s always interesting to know how designers look to the future of their brand, when asked Her Royal Highness shared, “I love making people happy and feel good with what I do. My value system has always been my North Star, when it came to following my creative process and passion. It is a great honor as a designer to have your pieces evoke an emotional response and that’s what I am hoping to be able to offer people, the spirit of Joy, Playfulness and Sweetness.” “Jewelry design is my passion and I believe in feeding that passion everyday. I hope to be able to evolve, learn and grown everyday as a human being and as a find jewelry brand.”