Talent knows no age and proving that is Jude Benhalim who turned entrepreneur at the tender age of 17. This Cairo-based youngster took her first steps into the world of jewelry design after a successful creative design project in high school. Today, her namesake brand and its handmade jewelry are available at select concept stores in Egypt, UAE and Bahrain, and online at www.JudeBenhalim.com with worldwide delivery options. The brand brings a fusion of tradition and modernity, combining materials – 925 sterling silver and gold-plated brass – with colorful, custom-made resin stones and fluid Arabic calligraphy.
BQ Plus spoke to the talented designer about her foray into the world of designer jewelry, her inspiration and latest collection.
Tell us how you got into designing jewelry.
I founded my jewelry brand six years ago, at the age of 17. It was actually a school project that drew me into jewelry designing. As part of the IB program in high school, I had to complete a creative design project of my choice. Since I was always interested in jewelry, I chose to make beaded jewelry and sold it at a bazaar exhibition for charity. The event was a big success and everyone was impressed by the fact that I was so young. I found that I really enjoyed the design process, and seeing my sketches come to life was very rewarding. It was a big shift in my career plans, but that’s when I knew I should turn this project into a start-up business.
“I do believe though, that designing requires talent, and talent is not acquired through education; I believe it is in one’s nature and it is enhanced through practice”
I haven’t had any professional training in jewelry making, although I would love to find the time to do that. I do believe though, that designing requires talent, and talent is not acquired through education; I believe it is in one’s nature and it is enhanced through practice. I studied filmmaking at the American University in Cairo.
It was always my dream to become a film director, and until this day, I am very passionate about it. Although studying film was completely unrelated to jewelry design, it opened up my eyes to many gender-related ideologies that became a major conceptual force behind my brand. It led me to create pieces that encourage women to powerfully embrace and express their individuality.
What made you pursue designing as a full-time profession?
When I was studying I thought I would pursue a film career and maintain jewelry design as a side business but after graduation, I realized that my jewelry brand had a lot of potential to grow. I realized how much I enjoyed designing and how much I was willing to put into it. That’s when I knew I had to give jewelry designing my full attention. However, whenever I get a chance I use my filming skills to do short clips or behind-the-scenes videos for my brand.
Tell us about your design style.
I aim to create unique designs that mix traditional Arabian art with modern-day trends, and that is what essentially gives my brand its uniqueness. The modernization of Arabic calligraphy in jewelry is what made my work stand out among other designers. My designs are aesthetically inspired by modern art and architecture, sharp edges and abstract constructions.
What inspires you?
“I design each piece of jewelry with a fearless female spirit in mind. Inspired by her journey, each design is an expression of this muse and each collection moves with her, reflecting a specific sequence from her on-going story”
I find inspiration in almost everything around me. I design each piece of jewelry with a fearless female spirit in mind. Inspired by her journey, each design is an expression of this muse and each collection moves with her, reflecting a specific sequence from her on-going story. Beginning with her curiosity, she starts to explore spaces outside of her comfort zone and through these experiences she grows; discovering new and exciting ways to feed her soul. Conceptually, each collection builds on the one before it, creating a pattern; a journey towards ultimate individuality.
How would you describe the women who wear your jewelry?
I think that the women who wear my designs are bold with an edgy and daring sense of style. I target women that are self-confident and value their individuality, which I realize when I see them relate to the empowering Arabic calligraphy engraved in the jewelry; it speaks to them automatically.
Your designs have a unique look. What materials do you work with?
The materials I work with are a combination that gives my work its uniqueness. I mix sterling silver and gold-plated brass with custom-made resin stones. The colored stones are each custom-designed and handmade from a special resin material particularly for my jewelry. It is also the signature element that defines my designs and makes them instantly recognizable.
What is your process in creating these pieces?
Creating a collection usually it takes up to five months, from the design process to the production. The process starts with a lot of research and a big detailed mood-board. I then create my sketches and hand them over to the workshop, where our talented team of craftsmen begin hand- piercing the silver/brass to create the piece. The resin stones are manufactured in another workshop. The stone setting is then done at our studio, where the final piece is then polished and packaged.
What do you think is the most vital quality to be a successful jewelry designer?
“Consistency in design is key to being a successful designer”
I think it is in knowing how to introduce new designs without losing the identity of the jewelry. Consistency in design is key to being a successful designer.
Any advice to aspiring designers?
Always accept suggestions and jump into whatever opportunities you get. Believe in your talent and that failure will only push you forward.
Tell us something about your current collection?
The Urban Rebel collection is my latest one and is another stop in the journey of female spirit. After ‘Spectrum’, she finds herself overwhelmed by the city and the system that cages her. Basically, the collection is about breaking away from the limitations of the urban life. Aesthetically, pieces from Urban Rebel are inspired by the city and urban structures, featuring cubes, hoops, and cut-out patterns.
What are your plans for the coming future?
I am working to penetrate new markets and to introduce Urban Rebel on a global level. I hope that my brand will compete among international brands one day.
This article is from BQ Plus’s Issue 9 – March-April 2017.
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