Revel in the elegance of sculptural jewelry by Ralph Masri!
The universe of jewelry design is in itself a fascinating field dotted with sparkling grace and grandeur if one as an enthusiast takes the plunge into it. The Middle East has a rich history of it and is widely popular in this regard. There are a number of high-profile Middle Eastern-born jewelry designers whose creations are deemed to be very grand and bold at the same time. The latest head-turner joining this prestigious club is the Lebanese jewelry designer Ralph Masri.
In an exclusive interview with EuropeanLife, we caught up with him at his residence in Beirut to know more about his awe-inspiring designs, what being a jewelry designer means to him and much more.
Masri’s interest in jewelry emanated directly from his parents who had the booming business of jewelry. It was something natural he grew up with, but wasn’t so serious about it.
“I was never actually interested in pursuing it until my foundation year at college when I discovered my true love for it. This all fell in place for me primarily because of my accustomed devotion to crafting objects with my hands so the sculptural aspect of jewelry really drew me in. Then, my love of sketching and designing played a pivotal role here. Working with stones was a big factor too,” he said.
In order to have a firm foothold in jewelry design, he went on to study at Central Saint Martins in London. With things making progress or going well for him to say the least, he launched his eponymous brand in 2012. From the outset, his jewelry pieces have been most sought-after because of their flawless lines and structural aspect. “I want my brand to be seen as a source for a strong, bold and consistent identity,” he said.
Architecture and history have often had an immense influence on his collections which elite women interestingly find breathtaking. While there are no particular role models or muses as his favorites, Masri generally counts on strong independent women like those in his family as his perfect muses. “They’re the ones I design for. They inspire me to do what I do,” he said. “That’s how all my pieces are born.”
He mainly works with 18kt gold and precious & semi-precious gemstones–all of which are sourced and made in Lebanon itself.
Masri’s creations are totally reflective of a young and fresh approach to fine jewelry. “This is what women are seeking when they come to buy my pieces. They’re also strong independent women with bold taste–who are looking to stand out rather than follow the herd,” he added.
A few celebrities have already been smitten by his spectacular pieces so much so that they couldn’t resist themselves from wearing these on big occasions. The list includes Queen Rania of Jordan, Meghan Markle (Duchess of Sussex) and Gigi Hadid.
Although Masri didn’t reveal or talk much about his dream celeb, he would love to see Beyoncé or Rihanna wearing his jewels. “It would be truly nice if this desire of mine is fulfilled as and when,” he said.
Since we’re all living in a very celebrity-centric culture, it’s quintessential for brands to associate themselves with high-profile figures who they genuinely believe can give their presence more credibility. Masri by and large stands by the same school of thought.
“To a certain extent I can’t deny that celebrity placements pivotally help promote brands internationally, but it always has to be the right celebrity if your aim is to cause a stir,” he said.
The brand being in high demand as it is clearly apparent today, he has to create something inventive every now and then to stay competitive in the market. And what’s even more attention-grabbing is that his latest collection “Modernist” really catapults him to where he deserves to be.
“It’s inspired by mid-century Modernist architecture and some of the Modernist greats like Oscar Neimeyer. The idea came from my visit to a compound of abandoned Neimeyer structures in northern Lebanon. The pieces are very structural but with bold shapes,” Masri said.
Moreover, this success hasn’t come easy to him. In fact, his journey did have its share of tough phase. Initially, it was difficult for him as he found himself to be so young in such an old-school field. “It’s all been a learning curve and I feel the toughest hurdles have for the most part been overcome. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by very supportive people who have made the journey easier for me,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a passion for me‒it’s how I express myself creatively.”
As the brand becomes more widely known, his next plan of action is to implement strictly what is required for international growth combined with a major focus on the US market.