Saudi designer Leena El-Khereiji is the co-owner and the main designer at Charmaleena Fine Jewellery. Founded by Leena and Hala, her sister, in April of 2012, Charmaleena is a jewellery brand based in Jeddah with exquisite pieces and designs. After gaining her experience from the Gemological institute of America (GIA) in London, the first collection of Charmaleena jewellery, the freedom collection, was created. It was inspired by her belief that freedom is a powerful word, the pieces clearly portray her strong influence by the heritage of poetry and calligraphy.
We got the chance to find out more about Leena El-Khereiji’s experience as a jewellery designer and the inspiration behind her designs.
What inspired you to create your line Charmaleena?
Not so long ago my sister and I, she is the business developer and I am the designer, were bankers. We have traveled an arduous road from bankers to creative professionals and this transition could not have been successful without belief in our abilities, innate motivation, and support from our family.
We design conceptual and contemporary wearable art for the fine jewellery brand we co-founded and developed, Charmaleena Fine Jewellery. Innovation and flexibility is at the heart of Charmaleena and this is incorporated into every collection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings that we create.
My sister and I overlook every aspect of our business. We work together as a team to produce beautiful jewellery for the discerning contemporary woman that appreciates quality and individuality. Charmaleena Fine jewellery launched at the prestigious international Jewellery Salon Exhibition (Al-Sunaidi) in Jeddah and Riyadh in April 2012, and was positively received by international jewellery designers and owners.
In our first Charmaleena Collection, the Freedom Collection, we used the motif of very delicate wings in a trendy yet sophisticated way. All the necklaces can be worn as either a pendent or separated into a pair of earrings.
The flexibility and multifunction of the design is uncommon to fine jewellery. We want to give our clients the flexibility and enjoyment of owning a piece that can be worn in more ways than one.
The Freedom Collection was inspired by the world around us. Over the course of the last year, everything on the news and around us was about freedom. Everyone wants to be free. Freedom can be interpreted in many ways: freedom to love, a persons desire to be physically or mentally free from the past, present or future, or the freedom to choose ones personal life path. In essence, freedom is a powerful and inspiring word, which has many interpretations as reflected in the flexibility of the collection by Charmaleena Fine Jewellery.
Talk about your experience as a jewellery designer…
I went to the United Kingdom to gain my jewellery design diploma from the Gemological institute of America (GIA) in London gaining a Jewellery Design Diploma with accreditation as a Jewellery professional (AJP).
Prior to launching Charmaleena, I channelled over three years of work experience and creative design and entered the Al Sunaidi Jewellery Exhibition Competition in Jeddah in April 2011. I was awarded first place for the best Islamic design inspired by Islamic architecture; this gave me the affirmation I needed, along with the support of my family, to pursue my dreams to become a jewellery designer, and to launch my brand, Charmaleena.
I was given the opportunity to participate in the international jewellery design competition at the Al-Sunaidi Exhibition in 2011. This prestigious competition gave me the chance to demonstrate my artistic talent and technical ability in the area of jewellery design. During the competition, each participant had 3 hours to design an Islamic inspired piece of jewellery. Upon winning first place, I gained considerable media exposure, encouragement, support, and was awarded with the prospect of exhibiting my fine jewellery the following year.
Since receiving my award in 2011, I have launched my internationally registered brand this past April 2012, Charmaleena Fine Jewellery, with the mission to make original, art inspired pieces of fine jewellery.
My sister and I have a passion for life-long learning and development, thus in the New Year we will be moving to New York for a few months in order to learn the craft of diamond grading.
How does winning the Young Creative Entrepreneur Award for Saudi Arabia add to your experience?
We were the youngest professional designers to receive the award, having launched our brand only 6 months prior to the competition, and still very new to the design industry.
We learned so much from the YCE experience and the many successful and inspiring design industry professionals that have now become part of Charmaleena’s success. Through our visit to the UK, along with the lectures, workshops and networking events, it made us understand the importance of coalescing and balancing the various aspects of both the business and design side of Charmaleena Fine Jewellery.
The YCE experience broadened our appreciation and understanding of the multi-layered environment of the design industry; it is not only about glamour, recognition and making money, but more about the method, structure, research, and being constantly aware and up-to-date of the dynamic industry, which we have chosen to become a part of.
The highlights of the YCE experience were receiving a master-class from Paul Smith, Lucy Norris, Chris Sanderson, Marcus Fairs and attending London Fashion Week.
Paul Smith, who is incredibly humble and down-to-earth, shared so many things that will stay with us forever; Among them, that structure and routine are very important for the creative process to truly flourish. You have to learn about yourself, what triggers parts of your brain to develop creative ideas, and if you are blocked then you have to take a step back, and give yourself time to harness your potential.
The YCE was a genuinely inspiring experience and gave me the encouragement to be myself and to be original. Charmaleena Fine Jewellery was so enthusiastically received by UK and international creative industry experts, and this exposure helped us realize that if you feel something, just do it, and don’t wait for approval from anyone.
Becoming recognized as a designer of Fine Jewellery from Saudi Arabia, as a YCE award recipient, competing on both international and national levels, was the first step towards positively contributing to the design industry in our country.
We would like to use the YCE award as a platform to inspire young designers, promote creativity and to encourage other nationals to believe in their ideas when no one else does and to persevere until their dreams become tangible reality.
Talk more about the influence of your Arabic heritage on your work..
As a Saudi jewellery designer, a lot of our art pieces are inspired by our heritage, Arabic poetry and calligraphy, and capture influences from time spent abroad; Charmaleena Fine Jewellery creates a cultural and artistic bridge between the east and west, and thus is starting to create a strong niche in both the national and international fine jewellery arenas.
In our first collection of Charmaleena Fine Jewellery, we created an Arabic calligraphy bracelet. We wanted our brand to reflect our love for poetry and Arabic calligraphy and recognize these elements as recurrent themes throughout each of our collections. To be able to share our love for poetry, words and quotes in Arabic made from 18 K gold, which women will keep forever, is our creative gift we wish to share with the world.
The Arabic calligraphy bracelet made for the Freedom collection is handmade with the beautiful lyrics of the famous poem Al Atlal (The Ruins), by the legendary poet, Ibrahim Nagi.
How would you describe your upcoming 2013 collection?
The new Charmaleena collection could be described as the space between “edgy” and “cool”. We are very excited to share our new concept, which will launch in April 2013.
Where To Purchase Your Charmaleena?
Charmaleena Fine Jewellery can be purchased online exclusively at: www.giftvault.com
Charmaleena Jeddah Showroom by Appointment: +966-561276666
– Fajer Al Farsi