Clara Chehab’s Dazzling Dichotomy of Rough & Refined Jewels

Lebanese designer Clara Chehab employs rugged gems and inspirations from nature for her designs. Her latest line, Sienna, brings together tumbled stones, faceted gems and diamonds that celebrate earthy hues.

Beirut-based jewellery designer, Clara Chehab, considers herself a global citizen, having spent her childhood between Paris and Beirut, living in London for over ten years, before finally moving back to Beirut. She has also travelled to almost 60 countries.

Childhood memories of visiting the goldsmith with her late grandmother kindled in Clara the fond love of jewellery. These experiences, she says, instilled in her a deep appreciation and love for beautiful, evocative pieces that reinforce familial bonds and deepen emotions. Her designs celebrate the deep colours and unique textures of the gemstones she works with, resulting in timeless and romantic keepsakes, set against a backdrop of different alloys of 18-karat gold.

Clara Chehab

As a young girl, Clara had dreamt of working with jewellery. After leaving the corporate world of banking in London and returning to live in Beirut in 2018, she realised that she could no longer ignore her desire to create jewellery. “I knew that I could use my work experience, my travels, my personal life, and relationships, as an extra motivation and inspiration to create and I felt the timing was right for this leap.” She started taking private tutoring jewellery classes in 2018 with a jewellery teacher, “and worked with a few workshops to gain first-hand experience of waxing, casting, and stone setting. I wanted to understand the entire process before starting my own journey,” adds Clara.

(Left) Elemental medium Gaia ear stud crafted in 18-karat yellow gold featuring an Imperial topaz accented with diamonds; (Right) 18-karat gold necklace suspending an Imperial topaz pendant further embellished with diamonds and an oval blue sapphire. By Clara Chehab

Sienna, her second and the latest line, follows the Gaia collection — and it is inspired by the birth of her daughter. “I have continued with the high level of intricate craftsmanship and my love of gems in natural forms for Sienna. It focuses on tumbled stones, and I have mixed them with faceted gems and diamonds,” says Clara.

Earthy colours — sienna, ochre, sépia, terracotta, madder — find themselves being celebrated through various gems. This time, Clara has used morganite in her 25-piece Sienna collection. “Morganite is a stone of unconditional love, and compassion. One of my favourite pieces is the morganite ring, Sienna Half Moon Ring Pink. It’s like a layer of rocks and mountains and soft at the same time,” she says. The Sienna collection also features smokey quartz as “It’s believed to aid in healing and navigating challenging situations,” notes Clara notes. Peridot, too, is used prominently in the designs because “The peridot holds a special place in my heart as my beloved mother offered me a peridot ring after a trip to India and this ring became a symbol of protection.”

Elemental single ear stud in 18-karat pink gold set with rough amethyst wrapped in a single streak of diamonds. By Clara Chehab

The choice of gold colour, she explains, depends on the stone in terms of aesthetics and the emotions they portray. Case in point, she uses a lot of Imperial topaz with yellow gold; pink or green tourmaline with pink gold; and aquamarine with white gold.

Inspired by her Lebanese heritage, Clara upholds the tradition by supporting local artisans who possess techniques and skills passed down generations. “My appreciation for these masters plays an intrinsic part in each of pieces.”

Recognisable design codes from her Gaia Collection — half-moons and the graphic lines tied around some of the stones — feature in the Sienna pieces infused with an earthy vibe. She tends to use rough stones in her work as well as tumbles. “Similar to the original prismatic gems, each of the tumbled stones I have used are unique but with a soft, rounded feel and are in radiant colours that entice you like irresistible candies,” she explains.

Lunar Bombee 18-karat pink gold ring topped with a pink rough tourmaline. The ring is embellished with multi-colour sapphires and diamonds. By Clara Chehab

She hand-selects rough stones individually as each one is unique in shape and character.  The colour, the vivacity, the cut, the compliance with the designs, and the harmony between the rough and cut stones are among the main criteria for selecting the gems, informs Clara. “It’s very important for me to feel the stone, whether in the colour, the sparkle of its facets, or its inherent transparency,” she explains.

The desire to use raw shapes stemmed from her admiration for the tumble stones and after the birth of her daughter. “I wanted to create a collection using tumbles that feels a bit like candies. “I find the roughness of the stones so empowering that while wearing them I can feel the texture of the stone in a strong way,” says the designer.  It also mirrors her love of travel and the landscapes she has seen. “The raw beauty of nature and all these magnificent sites that I’ve visited are at the core of the two collections, Gaia and Sienna.”


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