Abu Dhabi born jewellery designer Noor Shamma had an interest in understanding the complexities in everyday life from a young age. Her passion for architecture evolved into a passion for jewellery design, which ultimately saw her creating a brand that combines the two art forms. Her architectural modern designs are the jewellery of the future. Creating a beautiful blend between classic and contemporary Noor’s pieces reflect the concept of unity in diversity through unique patterns and minimalist motifs. Each of her jewellery pieces capture personal stories interwoven with art, identity, and emotion; and is expertly crafted by worldwide artisans in New York City and beyond.
While her family home is in the UAE, Noor’s business headquarters are based in New York so she spends much of her time travelling between the two, running her company, as well as being a mum and to a daughter. Of course, this year much has changed as travel has become much more difficult and the designer has had to adapt to new ways of communicating with her teams and developing new products from afar. We find out more about how this new way of communicating has changed her business and we discuss her upcoming jewellery collection.
This year has been a strange year for all – what is something you have learnt from this period?
I’ve learnt to stop resisting my reality, and I’m working on being present and adopting a slower pace.
We know you spend much of your life on a plane – how have you managed to adjust this year and where did you spend your time?
On the couch! I must say that not travelling was by far the toughest part of this year for me, though I luckily did manage to get on a few planes before the lockdown. I have had to adapt to a slower pace and find ways to cope with the new lifestyle. I miss travel though, so much.
Have you changed anything within your business moving forward?
Absolutely. I had more time to focus on building relationships and curating a more personalised experience for my clients. I also got to experiment with a plethora of beautiful gemstones as I worked on a few exclusive pieces. It was a great time to get out of my comfort zone and explore new territories.
What can you tell us about your latest collections?
What I can share now is that the collection encompasses a shared intimacy that echoes across generations; let’s say, this one is by far the closest to my heart.
Why do you think it is important for women to have jewellery in their lives?
I think it’s because jewellery is forever, it is timeless. There’s a great sentimental aspect that’s tied with jewellery and that makes it priceless.
Your style of jewellery is very unique – how would you describe it in your own words and who is the woman you design for?
Timeless and very functional with a twist of cool! Given my active lifestyle, I need to know that I’m wearing classic yet practical and functional pieces that are easy to move with and travel in, from day to night. My jewellery happens to tick those boxes! The collections are functional yet timeless with a contemporary twist through a unique geometric aesthetic; almost as if it was “wearable architecture”. I love that it can be passed on from one generation after another; jewellery is forever. Also, my jewellery adapts to the women wearing it, and that’s what makes it special.
Take us back to the beginning of your journey before you launched your brand – what was your goal and how did you set about achieving it?
I majored in Design Management and I stumbled upon jewellery design by chance, but I immediately fell in love with the whole design process and working with talented craftsmen who bring my ideas and concepts to life. A few years ago, I got GIA certified in Applied Jewellery Professional which has helped me better understand the craft and industry. Jewellery always comes with a story — it is timeless and sentimental and I get to share my own artistic interpretations through this timeless medium.
This issue is about success – how would you define success?
Success to me is the ability to adapt.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Would surviving this year (to date) count? Along with starting my jewellery business — that’s my biggest achievement. And motherhood — that’s a given.
What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
Settle on a farm, forever after.
How do you think your heritage and upbringing has influenced your designs?
I’m naturally very influenced by culture, architecture and the people I interact with, be it consciously or subconsciously, and that allows me to design pieces that translate effortlessly between cultures without it dominating one over the other — East meets West. It’s simply relevant.
When are you at your most creative?
If I’m very honest, it’s usually when I least expect it. I tend to get bursts of creativity followed by lengthy artist blocks. But I usually try to make the most out my creative outbursts and allow myself to be in that state of flow.
How important is sustainability to you as a brand and what are you doing to ensure you are working in the most sustainable way?
Naturally, we ensure the protection of human rights and the environment by using recycled, conflict-free 18-karat gold. In addition, we responsibly source the best quality diamonds and coloured stones with the highest integrity in our efforts to produce sustainable fine jewellery. It is also worth mentioning that all our stones are natural, so they’re non-heated and non-treated. We are committed to developing the right partnerships and embrace sustainable practices to monitor our impact as a business through conserving natural resources, reducing energy usage, carbon emissions and carbon footprint.
We know you wear many hats – how do you manage your time and get a good work/life balance?
The truth is, I don’t have a work/life balance and I have come to terms that it will never happen! Some days life wins, most days work wins — it all depends on my priorities in that phase, something’s gotta give!
What is a challenge you have faced throughout your journey and how did you overcome it?
There have been numerous challenges but those are always the best learning curves. I try to avoid being overwhelmed and tend to focus on breaking down the problem to solve it gradually.
If you could look back, what is something that you would tell your younger self?
Breathe! This too shall pass.
What would you say to anyone at the beginning of his / her business journey?
Challenges are the best learning curves. Running a business has its complexities and it is sometimes disheartening when the results are not immediate; but I’ve learnt that talent, hard work and patience are the perfect recipe to success.
What is the life motto you live by?
To love is to act.