In a field almost exclusively occupied by Western aesthetic such as that of high jewellery, the name Azza Fahmy sounds refreshingly distinct. In a society dominated by men such as that of Egypt, the thought that a feminine figure has managed to find so much success independently is equally refreshing and impressive.
It is the mixture of the unyielding determination of a woman, the passion for authentic craftsmanship and the broad artistic references that makes the vision of Azza Fahmy so special, and so universally appreciated. Indeed, more than high jewellery, hers is more appropriately called cultural jewellery. Put simply, if your idea of a statement ring means more of an actual statement, and less a polished gem of unrealistic proportions weighing your finger down, then this is the brand for you.
Having started as an apprentice in Khan El Khalilli in the sixties, and founded her eponymous company in the early eighties, Azza Fahmy spent years developing this vision, and specialising in handcrafted, contemporary jewels that have a message and a story to tell.
For an aficionado of ancient Egypt such as myself, these jewels may appear as highly symbolic and reminiscent of a glorious, somewhat mystical past. However the traditionally pharaonic trademarks are not the only characteristic of Azza Fahmy’s work. Looking back at the collections so far, the inspirations translated into these jewels are endless: from architecture to calligraphy, from history to Islamic motifs.
But possibly my favourite feature of all is the fact that many of her designs incorporate fragments of literature. Be it a proverb or a verse, the text is carefully engraved on rings, bracelets or pendants, reflecting a creative spirit on a constant quest to find deeper meaning and to express it. From a wearer’s perspective, this also means you can find a piece that not only speaks to you, but may speak to others about your own personality.
The long thought process required in designing such a jewel is balanced by the meticulous craftsmanship involved, the workshop still proudly following the traditional techniques of silversmiths and goldsmiths of times long gone. Azza Fahmy’s support in preserving these techniques – such as the ancient filigree method of shaping gold and silver threads into intricate motifs, or the hand-piercing technique – is all the more relevant in a time when people tend to overlook or forget the awe-inspiring civilization and rich cultural heritage of Egypt.
With Azza Fahmy’s two daughters now supporting this creative force – one as Managing Director and the other as Designer – I am reassured the company will continue to put Egypt on the map for the good reasons. Constantly expanding on a global scale, and increasing their visibility by collaborating with renowned fashion designers, I am curious to see how far this family will go in the future.
HAVE A CLOSER LOOK:
Meet Azza Fahmy, as she showcases where her inspiration comes from: