We talk to Dalia Hamdallah, the creative mind behind DbyDalia; a jewellery line that boasts gorgeous Art-Decoesque pieces with an ethnic touch.
It's safe to say that we've done our fair share of obsessing over beautiful jewellery that we discovered on Instagram. But it's a rare occurrence when we feel compelled use the word exquisite to describe something. But that's exactly the terminology we're choosing for D Jewellery, a drop-dead gorgeous line, launched by Palestinian-born Dalia Hamdallah.
The line features a range of bold, eclectic pieces, injecting a breath of fresh air into statement jewellery with unique shapes and unusual arrangements. It's all golden hues and chunky semi-precious stones in a myriad of colours; a perfect blend of ethnic-fuelled elegance, a costume-jewellery feel, and modernity. The pieces, which have a metal base but are all gold-plated, cover everything from necklaces to cool wrist cuffs, ornate earrings and headpieces that evoke an Indian princess impression. They've also got some seriously kick-ass ear cuffs. So we spoke with the designer behind the one-of-a-kind collection to find out a little more.
When and why did you start DbyDalia?
I started DbyDalia during my second year in university, as a business. But DbyDalia was I think a lifelong love of jewelry brewing inside ever since I lived in Sudan and Egypt. My mother used to buy heaps of beads and stones from the Umm Durman market in Sudan and Khan Khalili markets, and those were the same stones that I dabbled with in my first pieces of jewelry.
Do you have a background in art/jewellery design?
I was nicknamed the "Picasso" of my family as a child. I was that shy kid who was forced to bring out her sketches to show them to her parent's friends after lunch, and who had sketches all over the family's moving boxes. So it was always a part of me. I studied Fine Arts in AUC, and traveled to Rome for a summer drawing course in 2004.
How would you describe the pieces?
If I can give my line a one-word description it would be modern-ethnic.
What inspires the pieces? Where do you get the ideas for them?
My inspiration comes from my excessive daily hours of staring and searching for pretty things. I am constantly on Pinterest, buying old and new magazines, reading fashion blogs and following the latest OOTD of my favorite bloggers, etc. Besides that, I am naturally inclined to find ethnic and oriental shapes and lines appealing as a result of my travels as a child, which translates strongly in my jewelry. I am also a strong believer and follower of the motto of the late Picasso; "Let inspiration find you working". I think experimentation and the constant hours of working with a specific medium is bound to produce something beautiful, eventually.
The line is largely based on statement jewellery - why did you decide to go in that direction?
Jewellery can transform the entire feel or attitude of your outfit. You can go from simple and cute to bohemian chic by adding a big handpiece, big chandelier earrings, or a chainy headpiece to a long maxi dress for example. I usually either go big. or wear layers of dainty jewellery.
Are they all handmade and how long does it take to complete a piece, from the idea to the completed product? What is that process like?
They are all handmade by myself. I used to do the gold-plating alone as well, but thankfully have been outsourcing that part of the process now, as it is very time-consuming. Sometimes the process begins with a sketch, which makes it easier to visualize the final piece. Sometimes a trip to buy material will inspire a piece in my head. Material shopping and wandering around the stones market is a big part of my inspirational process as well. Finding options and variety and then taking in the beautiful mess of crystals, chains, and stones can start a storm in my head. If I have a friend coming along with me, they usually leave me or go get a coffee until I'm done because I can get lost for hours.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
I have a favorite piece everyday! It's constantly changing, where when I first finish a piece , it immediately either becomes my favorite, or I hate it and I either ruin it or change it until I love it enough to sell it. If I am not in love with the final result, I will not put it up for sale or I'll just keep it on the side for later.
You started out just in Egypt, but now you've expanded to other Arab countries. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I started in Egypt as a result of constant encouragement and support from my friends to put my stuff on the market and start a business. I then moved to Amman, and then to Dubai, where I reside currently. I still travel back to Cairo for big events and exhibitions where I always do really well. I also participate in fashion events in Amman, Lebanon, and Dubai when I can, or when I have a collection to debut. I have an upcoming trunk show in London next September, which I am very excited about. Also, I am working on my collection for the upcoming fashion event Fashion Forward, which is now in its fourth season and has been a huge push for my line in Dubai.
Do you have any future plans for the line?
My future plans are to cement my brand name in the Middle East and eventually open up my own shop either in Dubai or Amman.
You can check out Dalia's Facebook page here of follow her on Instagram @dbydalia.