Before she discovered her true calling in jewellery design, Fatima Al Dhaheri, a business graduate from the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), started working in the banking industry. About 10 years into her banking career, she was asked by her father to join the family’s business, one of which was Amwaj Jewellery, an established retail chain.
Not yet ready to give up her banking career, she took on both jobs, working in the bank during the day and for Amwaj by evening, helping to improve the company’s business operations and processes. Eventually, her passion for jewellery won over her desire to work in the corporate world, and she went into the family business full-time.
At this time, Fatima natural creative flair came to the fore and she began to experiment with her own jewellery designs, sketching customised pieces for the company’s clients. Before long her father spotted her potential and suggested she start her own brand. Al Dhaheri’s professional qualifications include Jewellery Essentials, Diamond Grading Lab, Accredited Jewellery Professional and Colored Stones Essentials.
She has named her latest collection after her grandmother, a strong and beautiful woman, who was very creative. “Ruwaya stands for all that my grandmother embodied, but it’s also about all of the strong, bold and beautiful women from this region,” says Al Dhaheri, who is from Abu Dhabi. “We chose a woman’s name because we really wanted to focus on the femininity of the brand.
In an interview with The Woman, Fatima talks about her creative journey and more
We are all a result of our childhood influences. How has yours been instrumental in you choosing your vocation?
“I’ve always been a creative person. When I was younger, I was constantly doodling and sketching, and up until about 15 years ago, there were very few options for buying jewellery or indeed even clothes in the UAE, so my friends and I grew up designing our own clothes and bespoke products. My creativity and passion for jewellery really sparked when I was exposed to the jewellery business. It gave me the freedom and opportunity to design customised pieces for friends and clients and experiment with my own jewellery designs.”
What inspired you to start your jewellery brand?
“It was my father who having watched another friend ask about my latest ‘experiment’ that suggested I should create my own brand. I was a bit daunted by this suggestion at first – me, how could I create my own brand? Would it be good enough? Did I have enough ideas? But it sparked the idea and as I thought about it more, I realised that a dream that lay dormant for many years was now coming alive – this was what I was meant to do.”
What is your latest collection about? Can you take us through the design philosophy?
“What I like most – I like stones, I like coloured stones, the texture, even the roughness of the stone, I feel it’s more organic and closer to nature. When you look at those stones, you see the freshness of them, you feel their beauty and you feel more alive. I want the wearer to feel special – for the inner beauty of the wearer to be reflected in the pieces, in the same way that Ruwaya brings out the inner beauty of the wearer. I always try to pick my colours from nature. And I love sapphires because they come in so many beautiful colours and textures.
“I also love pink. Ruwaya is a feminine brand, and when a woman designs for a woman, she wants to show how beautiful she is, how joyous, how glamourous. Whatever someone wears should bring out the happiness, the joy inside the person. I feel the colour pink helps do this. It is a long process. I start by collecting the sapphires, I draw the set, I create the mould for each stone, and from the mould I test the first time, I test it a second time and so on until you get each setting absolutely perfect. It is a very involved process and takes a lot of time and patience to get right, to do each stone justice and join them together in such a wondrous way.”
What do you think of the Middle East in terms of artistic sensibilities? As a market, do you feel it requires specific design nuances?
“None of the Ruwaya collections are designed specifically for the Arabic market – in fact, the research we undertook before deciding on the collections was important to ensure that Ruwaya would appeal to the tastes of as broad a target market as possible. Ruwaya is for everyone, from the Arab woman, through to the Western woman and women in other cultures as well. It’s for any woman who wants to feel special and beautiful with the jewellery they are wearing, and for the woman who loves to make a statement. Ruwaya has bold aesthetics and a raw beauty, and is unlike any other luxury jewellery brand on the market. As the stones I select guide the design of each piece, each piece is truly unique. Ruwaya is not a ‘design and produce’ brand – our focus is on creating truly beautiful and inspiring statement pieces.”