Today we soak up the atmosphere of the Stella Di Mira Beach along Egypt's Gulf of Suez. We pause shortly to observe the palm trees' gravity-defying, upright leaves, and then move along to the mainland to try our hand at waterskiing and windsurfing. Egypt is also the present home of featured jewelry designer Dima Rashid.
A native of Palestine, a bloody uprising in 2000 caused Rashid to flee the country with her family for Cairo, Egypt.
As she settled into her new environment, she took stock of the country's rich history of artisanship in various crafts including jewelry. "Egypt's culture, the people have become an ideal platform for my creativity," she explains.
Patient and intelligent, Rashid taught herself jewelry design and jewelry making through information on the internet as well as assistance from her jeweler. She started by creating anklets using strips of leather and beads.
Within several months, she felt ready to learn more, and watched as her jeweler arranged materials to her specifications. These initial designs were "limited to my closest friends and me," but Rashid continued to develop her skills while riding the wave of inspiration her adopted country provided. "Egypt is truly a beautiful, magnificent place," she enthuses.
Her growing skills resulted in more sophisticated designs that, unbeknownst to Rashid, caught the attention of Harper's Bazaar Chief Editor Natasha Fraser. While dining with her family at a Parisian restaurant, Fraser approached Rashid and without introducing herself proceeded to inquire about the earrings Rashid wore. Once she learned Rashid was a jewelry designer Fraser asked if she could view other items she might have, Rashid agreed.
Early the following morning, the hotel's concierge awakened Rashid as he informed her that Fraser had arrived. Fraser looked over the baubles for two hours, purchased a couple of items, and left a drowsy Rashid a business card. "When I saw who she was, I called her to apologize for being out of it, but she brushed it off and told me she set up a meeting for me with Erickson Beamon in London."
Rashid later contacted British Vogue's jewelry editor to set up an appointment. The meeting exceeded Rashid's expectations as supermodel Gisele Bundchen graced the cover wearing a pair of Rashid's earrings. By 2004, she launched her company Dima Jewellery.
Having a love for gemstones, Rashid builds designs around them, spending days creating sketches for individual stones. There are plenty of luminous, soft-colored stones featured in her delicate creations from white, pavé diamonds to pink topaz and blue opal set in 18-karat "battered" gold.
The jewelry is as exotic and beautiful as its designer is; ranging from simple, gemstone pendants to draping bibs of gold and gemstones to sparkling, protective charm jewelry.
"I source my stones from a family in Jaipur, India with a high reverence for them," she acknowledges, "They believe nature reveals its innate beauty to man through gems, and that a stone should not be tampered with beyond shaping and cutting."
Rashid chose her gem supplier for ethical reasons as well. "I can guarantee both the quality and the sourcing of the stone as I feel it is our duty as designers to ensure that jewelry is as environmentally friendly as possible."
Rashid's feminine, elegant jewelry sells around the world in London, Dallas, and Dubai at Barneys New York, and Neiman Marcus. Such famous faces as Vanessa Williams, Eva Mendes, Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, and Victoria Beckham covet the lovely fine jewelry.
Ultimately, Rashid's design approach is to create jewels that are timeless not trend driven. "Jewelry is for loving and wearing; for passing on from mother to daughter."
For more on Rashid's designs, check out Spencer Christian's video interview.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold Turquoise Earring with Drop Pearls
Photo 2 (bottom right): 18-Karat Gold Amethyst Cluster Ring