Labour of love

The bond we create with jewellery is undeniable; Lebanese designer Selim Mouzannar transports emotions inspired by nature into his creations. He might come from a birthright of jewellery design, but he was resistant to take up the craft at the beginning. Despite his best efforts, he was drawn back into the world of gems, but he didn’t do it for the money or the fame. The Lebanese creative wanted to make timeless pieces that transcended trends and pay tribute to the nature that surrounds us.

Based in Beirut, Mouzannar brings his love for Art Deco and Ottoman architecture to his unique creations that are frequently inspired by the ocean, stars and open air. Mainly working with a colourful array of gems that are rose-cut to enhance their radiance and create a warm glow, his elaborate star-shaped pendants and floral drop earrings catch the eye and leave a lasting impression.

Selim Mouzannar interview

Mouzannar has been surrounded by jewellery since he was a child, paying frequent visits to the Gold Souk in Beirut and watching his father work; hence many of his collection pay homage to his heritage. He studied mineralogy in France and Belgium and was then hired by a renowned jewellery group to manage its workshops in Saudi Arabia. Afterward, he went to Thailand to explore ruby mines near the Burmese border before finally setting up his own brand. On his visit to Dubai before jetting off to Paris to showcase his pieces, Mouzannar shares with us why he tried to resist the dazzling world of jewellery making.

How has your childhood shape the jewellery designer you are today?

I don’t think it’s honourable to be a jeweller, son of a jeweller and a grandson of a jeweller, because it’s an easier way in. It’s the heritage, which I don’t believe in and I resist a lot against it. At the beginning, I wanted to be a journalist. Unfortunately, I made it and it’s been 15 years that I admit that I want to be a jewellery designer. I made it on my own, without my family.

How did you try to separate yourself from that heritage?

I was an expat for 15 years and worked in the Middle East and Saudi as a production manager and purchaser of stones and then I went on an adventure to Bhurma in the mines and then I travelled to New York, Belgium, France which opened my eyes to all cultures.

Selim Mouzannar interview

Your collections are inspired by Art Deco and Ottoman architecture, which are your favourite themes to work with?

Mainly nature. We are part of nature, we can’t fight against it. I get inspired by my life, every second we live is a kind of inspiration. Every place we go inspires us. We are in the hub of life.

What is your main goal when designing?

I want the pieces to be timeless. I want someone to wear something I made today to be worn in 20 years. I want my pieces to bring happiness. Jewellery has been seen as a sign of power and wealth, but this is not my purpose. I don’t consider myself the centre of the world, I do my job. I share my feeling through the object.

How has the mood in Beirut been recently and how has that effected business?

Beirut is suffering. It’s a tough moment that the Lebanese are living today, the prospects don’t look bright right now. Good will come, but it’s a tough moment for the country. When I began my brand, I went beyond Lebanon, and now my international export is more than 50 percent of my turnover and this can maintain my team in Beirut.

Selim Mouzannar interview

How do you see the jewellery industry evolving?

Like all industries, it’s moving and adapting. I don’t believe in stagnation, people want change, you want to be better and refine. I can’t change the direction but I believe in my beliefs, I do my job, I’m not influenced my trends. I want my pieces to be fun, joyful, colourful and happy. I respect the conventional techniques of fine jewellery. Respect that, but bring something new.

What are your personal ambitions for the brand?

I was approached by a big group to go global, and I was tempted. But I chose to be niche, I chose to stay niche. The brand is recognised everywhere, I’m in Bergdorf Goodman in New York, I’m on Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion, and Dover Street Market.

What advice can you bestow on future jewellery designers?

First, you have to love nature, especially the colour and all these crystals that nature produces. You then have to understand the rules of manufacturing.  It’s so easy to make a sketch, but you have to understand how to make the pieces and you have to be close to the craftsmen. Just because it’s jewellery, don’t look at it like a money maker. Take it one step at a time. Connect with people, and refine as mistakes are part of running a business.

Selim Mouzannar interview

What is your favourite part of the day and why?

If you want me to choose, I will insult the nature. Every time of day has an emotion. I wake up early, but at the same time, I like the nightlife. Sunrise in the middle of the ocean is magical. I went to the North Pole in Greenland and it’s wild.

If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would it be?

Travelling between the stars.

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

It was in the middle of ocean looking at the multi-colour water. It was a desert island called Marathi in the Greek islands. I felt like this water was like crystal, it was a mixture of blue, green and light green and I’ve never seen a colour like this before.

Available at Damas

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