Leena M. El Khereiji, Co-Founder and Designer of Charmaleena Fine Jewellery, Discusses the Success of the Brand

Lindsay Judge   |   06-09-2023

Saudi Arabian sisters Leena and Hala M. El Khereiji co-founded their fine jewellery brand Charmaleena in 2012 as a means of celebrating their passion for creativity and art and channelling it into a business idea.


Charmaleena is inspired by the heritage and traditions of Saudi Arabia, combined with international excellence to become one of The Kingdom’s most successful homegrown jewellery brands. It offers a bridge where the east meets the west by eating pieces with symbolic cultural designs whilst offering our clients a profound, unique way of pairing its pieces, with modern layering at the centre of its brand DNA. Here, we find out more about the brand and its ambitious plans for the future. 



Tell us about your brand and how it came to life.


Our story started in 2012 when Hala and I decided to combine our talents to create a brand that would reflect our unique vision and style. We always shared a passion for creativity and art and saw an opportunity to turn our shared interests into a successful business venture. We come from a merchant family, so we combined creativity and art and transformed them into a business and a brand that has united us for more than a decade. We have remained true to our shared values and the passion that initially brought us together, and we have continued to evolve in every aspect of the business, ensuring that Charmaleena maintained its standards of excellence. Today, Charmaleena is a testament to the vision and determination we started with on day one. The brand continues to thrive, and we are proud to see women wearing our pieces and connecting with the meaning behind every piece. 



What makes Charmaleena different from other jewellery brands?


What sets Charmaleena apart from other brands is its commitment to several key elements: quality, storytelling, creativity, craftsmanship, and original recognisable designs. Charmaleena thrives on creativity and originality. As partners, each of us brings her unique perspective and artistic sensibilities to the design process. We are passionate about researching and digging to develop new ideas and find new materials and ideas. We constantly push boundaries and explore innovative ideas, enabling us to stand out in the market, creating everyday luxury pieces that are recognisable and highly regarded. Allowing our clients to wear our jewellery in multiple ways and feel the freedom to express their style. 




Tell us about the name and where it came from. 


Charming: someone who is sweet yet forceful, reflecting Hala perfectly. Leena in Arabic means a young palm tree – “soft and delicate”. Charmaleena is a cultural and artistic fine jewellery brand connecting the east and west through linear and delicate pieces of art. 




What are the challenges you faced in setting up a brand?


Challenges will always present themselves in some way. When we started 12 years ago, we faced challenges that many entrepreneurs may encounter when starting a jewellery brand. Finding reliable suppliers of high-quality materials, such as gemstones, metals, and other components, can be challenging. Ensuring the materials are ethically sourced adds an additional layer of complexity. Standing out and creating a unique identity can be a challenge, especially that the jewellery market is highly competitive, with many established brands and designers already in the industry. Overcoming these hurdles requires perseverance, creativity, adaptability, and a strategic approach to building a successful business. 



What is your vision for the brand moving forward?


Our commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences aligns with our dedication to creating exquisite jewellery collections. We want our customers to feel a sense of delight, luxury, and personal connection when they engage with our brand and wear our designs. The jewellery market is constantly changing and evolving, and we are committed to keeping up with its ever-changing updates through our designs, materials and ideas. At Charmaleena, our journey has been fuelled by passion, creativity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, and it will continue to be so. We are dedicated to realising our vision and establishing ourselves as a globally recognised and respected jewellery brand that leaves a lasting impression through its craftsmanship, storytelling, and commitment to sustainability. We want to leverage new technology, AI and e-commerce. We aim to position ourselves as a worthy contender in the high-end jewellery market through our unique designs, meticulous craftsmanship, and commitment to excellence. 



Tell us about the latest collection. 


Our latest collection, “Elements” is a captivating exploration of the four natural elements: water, fire, earth, and air. Inspired by the forces of nature that exist within us, this collection invites individuals to embrace and cultivate these elemental energies. A meticulously carved stone beautifully represents each element, adding a touch of elegance and symbolism to the designs. Each piece is a wearable reminder of the elemental energies that exist in our surroundings and within us, inviting us to tap into their power and find balance in our lives.


Air: The element of air is embodied by white Mother of Pearl, which evokes a sense of lightness and fluidity, reflecting the gentle breezes and ethereal nature of the air element.


Fire: Pink Opal symbolises passion, transformation, and the fiery intensity that resides within us and ignites a sense of strength and determination. 


Water: Lapis Lazuli represents the element of water in the Elements collection. Deep blue Lapis Lazuli mirrors the serene and fluid qualities of water. It is associated with inner wisdom, emotional healing, and a sense of tranquillity. 


Earth: Malachite embodies the grounding and nurturing qualities of the Earth element. It symbolises harmony, growth, and connection to nature. It serves as a reminder of our deep-rooted connection to the earth.



Who is the woman that you design for?


The Charmaleena girl is full of life and passion. She has a unique character and is full of style and self-expression. We believe that jewellery is a powerful means of self-expression, allowing women to showcase their unique personalities. Whether you are classic or edgy, we are here to empower you to embrace your authenticity and express yourself confidently. 



How do you think Charmaleena can appeal to women all around the world?


We connect with women on an emotional level by creating jewellery pieces that tell a compelling story. Whether it’s drawing inspiration from nature, historical events, personal journeys, or empowering messages, we infuse our designs with narratives that resonate with women’s aspirations, values, and experiences. Our pieces celebrated meanings such as strength in our Swords of Love collection “Love is Your Weapon” or My Heart collection that invites us to “Open Your Heart”. Every woman will find herself in our collections no matter where she is in her journey.  



Thanks to the Saudi Fashion Commission, we are seeing many events around the world promoting Saudi designers – tell us about your experience of this and how you think this is helping to raise the profile of designers in Saudi.


We feel incredibly grateful and honoured to be part of the Saudi 100 program for our second year and for more years to come. This remarkable initiative has provided us with a platform to connect with exceptionally talented designers and has been instrumental in fostering a vibrant creative community. Through the Saudi 100 program, we have had the privilege of engaging with like-minded individuals who share our passion for design and craftsmanship. The program has created a supportive network where we have been able to exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and learn from one another’s experiences. One of the most valuable aspects of the Saudi 100 program has been the exposure it has given us to both local and international audiences. This increased visibility has opened doors to new business opportunities, allowing us to showcase our designs to a wider customer base. The program has provided a platform for us to present our work, connect with potential clients, and build meaningful partnerships. Moreover, the program has facilitated our participation in various events, exhibitions, and showcases, allowing us to present our creations to a diverse audience. 



Can you give us an insight into the industry in Saudi Arabia based on your experience?


The jewellery industry in Saudi Arabia has witnessed the emergence of local brands that are making a mark both domestically and internationally. These brands are known for their unique designs, craftsmanship, and commitment to quality and are contributing to the growth and recognition of Saudi Arabian jewellery on the global stage. We are lucky that our government has been actively supporting the growth of the jewellery/Fashion industry. Investment in training programs and mentorship initiatives like the Saudi 100 created an infrastructure for fashion and jewellery brands. Also, these programs nurture local talent, promote entrepreneurship, and position Saudi Arabia as a hub for jewellery excellence. 



Who is a designer of jewellery talent that inspires you?


Many local and international designers have significantly contributed to the field, and all have inspired us. We are open to learning and getting inspired by everyone.



When are you in your most creative state of mind?


I’m the most inspired when I travel. I always come back fully inspired and full of ideas. 



Can you tell us how your heritage inspires your designs?


Heritage plays a significant role in inspiring jewellery design. It provides a rich source of cultural, historical, and artistic references that designers can draw upon to create meaningful and unique pieces. Heritage often encompasses many symbols and motifs representing traditions, beliefs, and values. Some of our iconic, heritage-inspired pieces are our Palm and Sword, which not only showcase the fusion of traditional motifs with contemporary design but also carry deep meaning and symbolism that resonates with people. By designing the heritage-inspired motifs in a contemporary way, you create an intriguing juxtaposition between tradition and modernity. This blending of styles and meanings makes the piece visually striking and emotionally impactful, attracting not only those who appreciate traditional symbolism but also individuals who seek unique, meaningful jewellery. 



What is in the pipeline for you for the rest of the year?


We are very excited to open our design studio/showroom in Riyadh. The pipeline is full of surprises and new designs! Each collection we introduce opens a new horizon of possibilities and creations. As usual, we continuously surprise and delight our customers with new designs and celebrate special occasions such as The Saudi National Day, which is an occasion, we love to celebrate by releasing a special edition, so stay tuned.



What message would you send to your clients and friends in the Middle East?


Be authentic and stay true to your roots.