Designs that combine glamour with luck
Young Lebanese jewelry designer Noor Fares recently launched her first collection of N.oor jewelry in London featuring diamonds and sapphires of assorted colors, gemstones of various sizes, ebony, gold, silver and more. Her inspiration, drawn from past and present, has yielded designs that are both exquisite and impressive. Her meticulous attention to detail and original yet refined creations reflect her artistic talent and her innate passion for jewelry design. Fares’s dreams are coming true as her first collection continues to be adored and revered by all who lay eyes upon it.
Fares, daughter of former deputy prime minister of Lebanon Mr. Issam Fares, is a true example of multicultural upbringing as she has lived and studied in Lebanon, France, England, and the United States. It is no surprise that her rich cultural background has inspired her pieces to embody universal themes, particularly themes of love, happiness and luck! Today’s Outlook sat down for a candid interview with Ms. Fares, and here’s what she had to say…
How and when did you realize you want to be a jewelry designer?
I really loved designing and creating jewelry from a very young age. I remember that I was always making things for myself just for fun. And then, as soon as I finished college, I decided to make a career out of something that was more of a hobby for me. So I developed my pieces into a collection.
What did you study at university, something related to design or did you make a complete turnaround?
No, I always knew what I wanted to do. I completed a BA in History of Art at Tufts University in Boston, as well as courses in Fashion PR and Journalism at Central Saint Martins and The London College of Fashion, and I have diplomas in both jewelry design and diamond grading. Most recently, I completed a degree in colored stones at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in London.
Which side of the family do you take after, your mother’s or father’s?
I definitely take after my mother. She is very creative and artistic herself. In fact, my aunts and my cousins from my mother’s side all have an artistic talent.
Why did you choose London and not Beirut or any other city for your launching?
I live in London, which is the main reason, and I love the city. But London is very central as well; it’s easy for people from various places to get there. I also think that London is definitely an art center and it seemed like a great place for a launching. I would like to launch in Beirut as well, maybe sometime soon.
Tell us a little bit about the design and creation process.
Firstly, I draw. Then, I put together all my ideas and develop them into coherent collections; things that sit within a theme. I later communicate these drawings and ideas to the artists who make them in the factories. I work with several factories in Lebanon and in Italy, depending on the piece.
Do you provide the stones or are they from the factory?
It really depends on which stones I am using. Some stones are already available at the factory. But most of the time I provide the stones because I like to select them myself.
Which stones and which metals do you work with the most?
I’m currently working with silver, gold and bronze. I like mixing metals. Jewelry doesn’t necessarily have to be gold with stones; it can be anything – titanium, brass…I like to experiment with different metals and I really enjoy it.
You’ve lived and studied in many cities around the world. How has all this traveling and exposure to different countries impacted on your designs?
I think every single thing you go through in your life, whether it is travel or different experiences, affects your creative side and everything can be seen as an inspiration. When you travel to different places you really absorb the culture and the different styles of each particular place.
Do you consult any family members regarding your designs?
My mother is my creative consultant. Outside of the family, I work with Salvatore Angius who has worked in the jewelry industry for over ten years. He mainly advises me on the quality and production aspect of my work. I’m open to his feedback and advice on my designs.
Who is your target market, and who do you have in mind when you design your pieces?
My designs are quite simple and easy to wear. I don’t target a specific age group. I think that teenagers can wear my designs but at the same time, so too can ladies because they can be adapted to an individual’s own personal style.
Do you design different pieces for different countries and cultures?
I’m sure that some designs would work better than others in some areas but it is generally the same collection that I am distributing.
How has the feedback on your new collection been so far?
I’ve had really good feedback so far from acquaintances and friends, even from people that I don’t know. I think that people are interested in my collection because it is something fresh and light. The general consensus is that my pieces are very wearable. I’m happy with the feedback.
Are there any similarities between your creations and the work of other designers available in the market?
Not really. There are a lot of jewelry designers out there that I love and that I appreciate. I think each designer has his/her own style and gets inspired by different things. I, for instance, get inspired by a lot of things, especially antique jewelry and vintage jewelry.
Where can we find N.oor Jewelry?
My designs are distributed in outlets. In the UK, they are available at Harrods department store; in Lebanon, at Moon Boutique; in Los Angeles, at H. Lorenzo, Beckley and Switch stores. Eventually I would like to expand in the Middle East.
Price-wise, do you cater to a wide range of budgets?
Yes, I have quite a large range of prices. My first collection is divided into two; one which is more high-end jewelry with precious metals, diamonds and colored stones and the other which is predominantly silver dipped in gold, with little stones and some diamonds. It is more silver, more day-wear; somewhere in between accessories and jewelry.
What do you hope your designs will convey to the wearer?
The themes of my collection are happiness, good luck and love. The “Touche du Bois” range consists of pieces made out of ebony because in many countries people touch wood for good luck. Also, at the back of many necklaces or the inside of rings you’ll find a blue-eye charm engraved in really small blue stone with a sapphire in the middle. The "Windows of Love" range was inspired by an architectural design that had decorated the windows of the Byzantine era. I also use the happiness symbol in a lot of my pieces. So, yes, I hope that the wearer will feel luck or happiness or love, or even all of them, when they wear my pieces.
What should we expect from you in the near future?
I plan to expand my current collection and then release my second collection by the end of the year. My aim is to have one collection per year.
Do you think you might incorporate your jewelry into other products in the future such as bejeweled handbags for instance?
Yes, it’s a possibility… I might venture into shoes!
What was the very first piece of jewelry you designed and who has it now?
The first ‘real’ piece that I designed, that I actually consider a piece because it had the exact measurements and everything, was my homework in design class. It is a pendant, which I really love. I got it made for myself and I still wear it often.
Have your parents and family members been supportive of this career path you have chosen?
Yes, very much so!