Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Oct 21 2015 / 16:51 PM

With a focus on femininity and luxury, Abu Dhabi-based Fatima Al Dhareri’s debut jewellery line Ruwaya is an exercise in creative excellence, says Maddison Glendinning

Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia
Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia
Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia
Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia
Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia
Ruwaya: Jewels of Arabia

Jewellery design has always been in 37-year-old Fatima Al Dhareri’s DNA. Although she admits it took her some time to realise that. “I started working in the banking industry as a customer service officer for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi before becoming a branch manager,” she tells Bazaar. Encouraged by her father to join the family business, Amwaj Jewellery, Fatima agreed but, reluctant to give up her first career, balanced both fields for a year. “I started working for Amwaj by looking into back-end operations so my role was still business-focused, but being exposed to the jewellery reignited my creativity. It was then that I realised that working in the family business would give me the freedom to explore that side of me.”

While working for Amwaj, Fatima began sketching her own designs. “I started to imagine the sort of jewellery I would like, and what I thought other people would like, too, and it came from there.” Her friends and family were her first customers and her biggest supporters. “They were always curious about what design I had most recently come up with. It was my father who, after having watched another friend ask about my designs, suggested I start my own brand.” The idea was daunting, she admits, but also made complete sense. “I realised it was a dream that had laid dormant for many years and was now coming alive – this was what I was meant to do.”

What is perhaps most impressive about the launch of Ruwaya this season, is the time that has been taken to ensure the brand is a calculated and structured business model when it hits the market. “The pieces that are now essentially the beginning of Ruwaya were hidden for almost two years before I actually started developing the brand,” she explains. “That’s how long it took me to experiment and develop the unique style I envisioned for Ruwaya. My team and I spent a lot of time crafting the logo, the brand story, the look and feel and even the stationary. We spoke to audience groups here, as well as internationally, to get their feedback. We looked at every possible detail to make sure we hit the right note at every touch point. We’re building something that will hopefully live long into the future.”

The most important decision Fatima had to make was the name of the brand. “It was absolutely imperative that we got it right,” she says. “Did it work for Emiratis, for Arabs, for the West?” The name Ruwaya held special significance for Fatima as it was her grandmother’s name. “My grandmother was a strong and beautiful woman who was also very creative. The name Ruwaya also embodies the strong, bold and beautiful women of this region. It’s a woman’s name, and we really wanted to focus on the femininity of the brand.” The name also has other meanings that are key to the label’s identity. “In Arabic, Ruwaya means water or something which generates a thirst, and in Arab culture water is equivalent with wealth because of its historic scarcity. It also means giving, as well as story – and Ruwaya tells its own beautiful story.”

“Each piece of jewellery develops and grows organically"

For her jewellery debut, there are three collections – Dujaan, Marari and Nayra – in order to cater for as much of the market as possible. Dujaan is the brand’s premiere line, “designed to make an unmistakably bold statement”; the handcrafted chains in the Marari collection are “inspired by the tradition of long chains often worn by Arab women”; and the pieces in Nayra (which means ‘shining’) are more delicate and suitable for everyday wear. The stones used are sourced on Fatima’s trips around the world and she explains that she only chooses the pieces that speak to her. “Each piece of jewellery develops and grows organically, guided by the stone itself. I turn them into beautiful, bespoke pieces from their raw, natural state, using my own contemporary style.”

The stones remain unpolished “to be as close to nature as possible”; there’s an emphasis on the colour pink “to bring out the happiness and joy inside the person wearing it”; as well as texture, “to capture and reflect light in many different ways, and make each piece glitter beautifully.” 

Originally the plan was to launch abroad, but Fatima decided to keep it close to home as “Ruwaya is a brand from the Arab region and it takes much of its inspiration from here.” The pieces will be available via trunk shows in the coming months “in order to create a one-on-one experience so that each client has the opportunity to really understand the Ruwaya concept and story. This way, they can connect to the piece and tell the Ruwaya story as if it’s their own.”