Coming straight from the fourth generation of one of the most prestigious houses of jewellers; Wadih Sayegh graduated from Antwerp Belgium with a degree in Gemology, before creating his first collection at the age of eighteen, and owning his first jewellery store at the age of twenty-two. Constantly driven by a passion for gems, and inspired by the ever-changing architecture around him, Sayegh’s success story is forever ongoing.
We sat with the ambitious jeweller, as he shared his experience with jewellery, his collaboration with various artists, and his particular vision that takes life in the Khawatem designs.
Tell us a bit more about the Khawatem concept.
The Khawatem concept merges in a successful collaboration with talented designers, sculptors, calligraphers, painters, architects, and artisans. It is a jewellery concept boutique that features handcrafted jewellery in limited editions, along with an open space that hosts multi-disciplinary artists from all over the world.
Why do you choose to work with structural and architectural shapes?
I am constantly inspired by the changing architecture around us, as well as by objects and accessories with unique forms and structures. That is mainly why I choose to work with shapes, which is reflected in most of my own jewellery designs.
Which materials are your favourites?
I am fascinated by natural gems; their colours, healing properties, myths and legends surrounding them. Gemstones have been honoured for centuries by so many cultures! Take the Greek culture for example; they deeply value the ‘asteria’ gemstone: a gemstone cut to show asterism, or in other words gemstones regarded as having powerful love charms.
Khawatem is known for where art and jewellery meet; can you elaborate more about how you decide on the different collaborations you have with artists across the region?
It’s very personal; whenever I like the artist’s style and work, I ask them to collaborate with us.
Tell us more about your manufacturing process. How difficult was it to find the artisans?
Jewellery making is a long, tough, and challenging procedure from start to end. Each product created undergoes a series of processes before reaching the final result of a beautiful piece of jewellery. Over centuries, we have excelled in everything we have done, from art to music and architecture. Also, since we are based in Lebanon, finding highly skilled artisans was never a difficulty for us.
What are the main challenges of production you face today?
Nowadays, the real challenge remains in mixing different types of manufacturing techniques. Technology is evolving, and new programs such as CAD CAM are replacing the old traditional methods within the jewellery industry. The great thing about these new programs is that they make it much easier to achieve more intricate detailing on the pieces, which are usually difficult to replicate through traditional methods.
What triggered your passion for art and jewellery design?
To me, art has always been an expression of colours and textures, while jewellery is a pleasure, an obsession, and an art form. I like to think of jewellery as pieces of art.
Define the language of jewellery. What does jewellery mean to you?
The language of jewellery is the “timeless object of desire”. Jewellery, like actions, can speak louder than words.
Who do you design for? Describe her in three words.
Independent, intelligent, and intellectual.
Each of your collections has its own story attached to it. Is there any specific piece in particular which you hold dear to your heart?
One particular piece that is extremely special to my heart is our collaboration with Zaha Hadid in 2009. It included a multifaceted jewellery piece designed to entwine an arm inside the stretched and pulled latticework of filigree.
What is next for Khawatem?
Khawatem is an ongoing project, which plans to bring more artists onboard from different corners around the world, as well as more jewellery that will make women feel happier and more beautiful every day, because I believe that’s what jewellery is supposed to do.
By Dana Mortada