This Qatari fine jewelry designer’s Arab inspired statement lace rings and earrings are making her an A-list hit, but she’s not resting on her laurels; instead she’s busy pushing the boundaries of creativity, finds Smitha Sadanandan.
Inspired by Arabic elements and henna designs, Noor Alfardan’s fine jewelry is steeped in tradition and strongly influenced by her Middle Eastern heritage. Noor cut her teeth as a buyer in her family business; it sure helped that her family, the Alfardans, were into jewelry and watch retail business and represented over 60 brands. “I wanted to create something that would stand out even to someone like me who spends an entire day surrounded by jewelry,” says Noor. Since her jewelry brand Noudar was launched four years ago, the likes of Natalie Dormer, Selena Gomez, Michelle Rodriguez and Nicole Scherzinger have been spotted wearing its avant-garde collection.
Today, Noor’s clientele comprise the well travelled who have clusters of basic jewelry and continue to seek new and arresting designs. “They buy my pieces as statement additions to their existing collection,” says the designer, whose work reflects the fun-loving spirit of costume jewelry.
How did you embark on this journey?
My father used to take me to jewelry exhibitions and his meetings with jewelers ever since I was six. After each meeting, I would draw my favorite pieces from the collections we had just seen. I would alter them in ways that I thought would make the jewelry look better. I also developed such a fascination with gemstones that I couldn’t ever imagine another path for myself. By the time I was 13, I was already designing personal pieces for friends, family and for myself. But it wasn’t until I graduated from university and worked in the company for three years that I decided to market the pieces I designed under my own label – Noudar.
What was the first piece of jewelry you designed?
I designed a diamond skull necklace in both yellow and white gold when I was 13. I didn’t want a pave setting and wanted to spread the diamonds around the skull in a random order. I had the gold in the middle etched with lines to make it look like a scary skull as opposed to a pretty one. I still have the necklace and wear it nearly every day.
Tell us about your collaborations with fashion designer Julien Macdonald.
I collaborated with Julien Macdonald on his presentations during the London Fashion Week for two years in a row. I absolutely love his dresses; the intricacy of the beadwork and embroidery compliment my jewelry so well.
Where do you manufacture your jewelry?
I envisioned creating a purely Qatari brand that people would recognize internationally. I wanted everything, including the manufacturing, to be done in Qatar. The jewelry was previously produced in Valencia, Italy and the diamonds sourced directly from diamond suppliers in Belgium or bought from suppliers at exhibitions. The quality was always lovely; I believed we could achieve the same outcome in Doha. This year, the Alfardan Group opened its doors to our new hi-tech jewelry workshop.
What’s new at Noudar?
My latest collection is just being finished at our workshop and will be unveiled at the Doha Jewelry and Watch Show in February.
“The sapphire lace ring was inspired by the large high jewelry necklaces my mother loved wearing to parties. I grew up watching her get dressed for all these glamorous events and was fascinated by how those statement necklaces transformed her entire look. I wanted to create a more compact version that somehow maintained a similar shape but one that I could wear on my finger.” – Noor Alfardan