It’s been nearly a decade since the Saudi Arabian jewellery designer Danah Alfayez launched her fine jewellery brand Obari, but her enthusiasm for her craft and unbounded creativity have helped her create fresh, innovative jewels for her clients across the world.
Her mother instilled in Danah Alfayez the love of jewellery. Young Danah accompanied her mother to the jewellery stores and, soon, grew up with an enchantment for bejewelled creations.
“My mother taught me a lot about jewellery and encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a designer,” adds Danah, who took her first serious steps towards fine jewellery at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in London. Here, she took on several courses: graduate gemmologist diploma, accredited jewellery professional diploma, pearl grading and jewellery design.
A stint at eSKay Jewellery in Bahrain helped the Saudi Arabian designer acquire much-needed skills that would see her thrive in the industry. “Working with clients on bespoke pieces taught me a lot. The clients had very varied tastes and that gave me the opportunity to experiment and create pieces that appealed to their distinct sensibilities,” recalls Danah, whose goal was to eventually design pieces under her own brand.
She launched Obari in 2012. “The name Obari is inspired by the Oasis town of Awbari in Libya and its enchanting beauty.”
Her first few collections – Pavé, Susan, Pavilion and Angelina – for Obari were crafted in gold and drew on her home country Bahrain’s rich history and culture. “Dotted with old forts and Islamic architecture, Bahrain is a great inspiration for any designer.”
All her pieces were initially made in Istanbul, Turkey; the newer ones though are now made in Dubai and, occasionally, in Bahrain. Besides diamonds, garnets and opals find their way into her designs that often employ matte and glossy finishes rolled into one. “I have around 15 signature collections and I add new designs continually.”
The fine jeweller sources her stones from gem dealers in Dubai, Geneva and Germany. At Obari, gems often lend themselves to evocative designs; case in point being the Enigma ring that entraps a lemon citrine. “I wanted to do something very different with my signature style and thought it would be nice to create a casing around the gem. The idea was to design something very beautiful and, like an enigma, exude a bit of mystery,” says Danah.
Another lovely piece from Obari is a pair of geometric earrings featuring soft pink sapphires – the gem cuts and mismatched shapes inspired its design. “I was trying to find a way to connect the stones and created little thunder bolts.” She recently unveiled a capsule line for men that includes bracelets, rings, and pendants. “More pieces will be added later this year,” says Danah, who is busy designing limited edition pieces set with rutilated quartz. “I love the natural details of rutilated quartz!”
In addition to charting new strategies, the designer participated in trunk shows hosted by The Amanqi Consultancy in Paris and Geneva, last year. She is hopeful such concerted efforts to showcase her work outside the UAE and pivoting to e-sales platforms would yield better results in a pandemic-stricken world.
Obari jewellery is currently available on the homegrownmarket.com and thejewellerypursuer.com as well as in-store at eSKay Jewellery.
“I have been selling via Instagram too and plan to launch my ecommerce website soon,” says Danah, who has a few “potential collaborations” lined up for 2022.
Danah is also determined to give back to charitable institutions. “An event focused on Obari – and held at the Four Seasons hotel – helped raise awareness for childhood cancer and funds for children being treated by the Al Jalila Foundation, UAE. I sold a few pieces and 30% of the proceeds from sales were donated to the foundation.”