JCK Rising Star Nada Ghazal is an artist in the truest sense when it comes to making jewelry. Just check out her JCK Marketplace showroom and you’ll see what I mean. Through my Q+A with the lady herself, learn what led to her career in jewelry design, find out what inspires her, and take a look at Dress My Finger, Nada’s newest design concept (I promise: You’re going to want a piece of it).
JCK Marketplace: So, how did you get into jewelry design?
Nada G: My fondest memory is sitting by the fireplace watching my grandmother’s delicate fingers weave pieces of art using string and her trusted crochet needle. I clearly recall the euphoric feeling I had the first time she held my hand and gently pressed my finger against that needle as she guided me to tie my first knot. I knew then I wanted to be an artist and an artisan.
In the early 80s, I was sent to a boarding school in the U.K. to escape the Lebanese civil war. It was there that I learned to express my feelings and emotions on canvas and was encouraged to pursue a career in art. After gaining a degree in advertising design from Lebanese American University, I travelled to Dubai to work in a multinational advertising agency for nearly 10 years. I realized that it was time for me to start my own brand, and at the age of 30, I moved back to Lebanon and started weaving my first jewelry pieces with 18k golden strings and precious stones in my apartment in Gemmayzeh, in Beirut.
In 2003 I showcased my first collection with 25 handmade pieces. I was emotionally connected to each and every piece. They gave me so much energy, in some cases, I was hoping that they wouldn’t sell! The pieces, however, sold out in less than three days, and there was great demand to produce more. In less than a year after the acclaimed success I received, I established the Nada G brand and opened my first boutique and workshop.
JCK Marketplace: What does your new Dress My Finger concept entail?
NG: With Dress My Finger, we can capture a moment in a person’s life and translate it into a timeless piece of jewelry. We are hoping to work with brides to help them capture the essence of their wedding day through bespoke custom-made jewelry pieces that are inspired by a bride’s dress, her veil, and her perfect day. This is not only exclusive to brides, however, and we welcome individuals who want to preserve a certain memory in a permanent, timeless adornment that can act as a constant reminder of that special moment. It could be a ring, but it can also be any other jewelry item symbolizing an achievement, a reward, or a sacred memory.
JCK Marketplace: What made you decide to move forward with Dress My Finger?
NG: The perfect wedding is what every woman dreams of. Just think of how much time and effort women spend on harmonizing all wedding elements from the gown to the matching veil, bridesmaid dresses, table and flower arrangements, all of which are chosen to tell a story that materializes their dreams as girls growing up. Soon after the day has passed, though, its quintessence becomes a mere memory that ends up as a distant image women reminisce on. I thought surely this is a flaw in how the essence of a most perfect day is preserved, enshrined in photographs or kept in a wardrobe fading away. It came to me that just as I had done for myself a few years ago when I customized the jewelry that I wore on my wedding day, I could help brides capture the precious moments of the wedding and translate them into a more permanent way as a constant reminder of that perfect day.
JCK Marketplace: Is there a custom design from Dress My Finger of which you are most proud, or perhaps a favorite?
NG: Dress My Finger is only a few weeks old, but it has attracted individuals looking to preserve a special memory and also brides preparing for their weddings in the summer, and we are really proud of the designs we have made for them, and they in turn are ecstatic! Perhaps my favorite design so far has been my own, which is an early birthday present from my husband. It is inspired by a touching moment from our wedding day, in which I presented my husband-to-be with one of the long-stemmed red roses that I was carrying. Thinking back on the sight of his face makes me light up! I will always look at this design and remember that moment, and want all brides to have this privilege.
JCK Marketplace: Currently, you are offering this service in Beirut, the location of your workshop. Do you have any plans to bring this opportunity stateside?
NG: JCK events are one of the best, if not the best, jewelry events in the world, and we are excited to be taking part in JCK Las Vegas this year. I am hoping that this concept attracts a number of buyers at the event that would enable us to branch out globally. I want to design and create bespoke jewelry for anyone who wants to celebrate a moment in their life and perpetuate it in a timeless piece of jewelry.
JCK Marketplace: How long does a typical process take, from the consultation to the completed ring design?
NG: Overall the process takes approximately three to four weeks, depending on the complexity of the style and the amount of labor-intensive hours that are needed. It’s difficult, yet so rewarding to see their faces after I show them the designs, especially when it’s spot-on.
NG: I have a connection with a lot of the pieces, because they are an expression of my life. There are three designs that I really love: Matrix, Malak, and Aya. Matrix represents the order in which one aspires to live by. Malak represents power, expressed through the outsized organic shapes, rough diamond stones, and the combination of unpolished yellow and white gold. Finally, Aya represents pride, expressed through the elegant curved and elongated shape.
JCK Marketplace: What sort of inspiration do you look to when designing your jewelry?
NG: I am touched by everything I see and everyone I meet, and that is translated into my designs. It could be as simple as the icicles that were hanging down from the windowsill of my parents’ house in the mountains this past winter. With Dress My Finger, it’s definitely the essence of the memory of the bearer; they need to describe that moment for me to create an item that symbolizes it.
JCK Marketplace: What are you most looking forward to at JCK Las Vegas?
NG: This is my first time participating in a JCK event, and I am very excited for Las Vegas! So far the feedback and the support from the JCK team has been tremendous and is very promising. I am looking forward to the expert reactions to my brand, and I want to meet buyers who can help us to connect with women through the timeless pieces we create. I’m also excited to meet media personnel and to attend seminars and workshops.
JCK Marketplace: I hope to share a toast with you at JCK! What’s your happy hour drink of favor?
NG: I am really looking forward to meeting you! I love to sip a decadent, exotic treat every now and then, and a lychee martini after a long day is just the thing. The combination of citrus zing and floral-sweet flavors complement each other and are the perfect balance. I’d like to think that it’s a little like me.