Noora Shawqi talks about the sparkling in­sights and scin­til­lat­ing jour­neys that led to her de­but jew­elry line: The Cey­lon Col­lec­tion

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Noora Shawqi on the travel in­spi­ra­tion be­hind her de­but jew­elry line

LAST YEAR, NOORA SHAWQI – fondly nick­named the ‘jew­elry girl’ – dragged her en­tire fam­ily on a va­ca­tion to Sri Lanka for one very spe­cific rea­son: to find a rare gem­stone. “It’s called Pad­parad­scha,” she re­veals. “It is s a kind of sap­phire that is mainly found in Sri Lanka. nka. It’s a very spe­cial stone – it is like a lo­tus s flower.” When she fi­nally found the stones – on n the last day of her trip, that too – she was blown n away by the vi­brant hues of these elu­sive gems.

It was the Pad­parad­scha sap­phire, along with many other col­or­ful gems she dis­cov­ered and learned to ap­pre­ci­ate in Sri Lanka, that t in­spired her to de­sign de her de­but jew­elry line, fit­tingly called the Cey­lon Col­lec­tion, af­ter the coun­try that is so renowned r for its gem­stones it is known as Gem Is­land. Isl

For some­one som with such a deep-rooted love for gem­stones and jew­elry, Noora ac­tu­ally didn’t start work­ing work on her dream job right away – at uni­ver­sity, uni­ver­sity she ini­tially stud­ied Pub­lic Re­la­tions. “Back then, then I didn’t know what I wanted, so I just went for the th best op­tion,” she ex­plains.

But jew­elry jew was al­ways her pas­sion, ever since child­hood, child­hood and it was al­ways go­ing to be a big part of her life. Even af­ter she grad­u­ated, for ex­am­ple, “I started ap­ply­ing for jobs but, in the mean­time, I was telling ev­ery­one I was go­ing to do a course on di­a­monds,” she says.

Noora did work in PR, but the urge to get into j jew­elry even­tu­ally got the bet­ter of her. Af­ter a course with the In­ter­na­tional Ge­mo­log­i­cal In­sti­tute, she de­cided to en­ter the field one way or an­other and be­gan blog­ging about jew­elry and started post­ing pho­tos and videos on her pop­u­lar In­sta­gram ac­count @noorask.

“Peo­ple re­ally liked see­ing these things,” she re­veals. “I gained quite a rep­u­ta­tion and a lot of fol­low­ers. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple would use my ac­count as a ref­er­ence [if] they want to buy a gift.”

Fi­nally, when she had her first child, it granted her the im­pe­tus to go into jew­elry full-time: “I was like, ‘Life is too short, so I should pro­ceed with my jew­elry dream,’” Noora re­calls. With en­cour­age­ment from her hus­band and sup­port from her mother, she slowly worked at mak­ing her dream a re­al­ity.

Even within her de­but jew­elry line, the Cey­lon Col­lec­tion, Noora’s love for gems pre­dom­i­nates. “Gems have this life in them. Jew­elry com­pletes them,” she says. “This col­lec­tion is very min­i­mal, be­cause the gems give life to the pieces.” Her jew­elry is al­ways in­spired by her jour­neys. “My brand is like travel,” she ex­plains. “Each piece is a city or place; I im­ple­ment what in­spires me about a place.”

An­other goal for Noora is to in­crease peo­ple’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for gem­stones, which is some­thing she feels those in the re­gion don’t re­ally go for all that much. “Here, it’s only di­a­monds and emer­alds, but I wanted to change that,” she notes. True to her pas­sion, col­or­ful stones dom­i­nate the col­lec­tion. She lists them off: “Aqua­ma­rine, amethyst, cit­rine, dif­fer­ent col­ors of sap­phire, in­clud­ing Pad­parad­scha. I also did tour­ma­lines – dif­fer­ent col­ors, ro­dalite, gran­ite...”

The col­lec­tion com­prises rings, ear­rings and neck­laces, each in 18K gold, with gems front and cen­ter. And, for her, Sri Lanka is just the be­gin­ning. “I want to do Mal­dives, Africa… My sig­na­ture is trav­el­ing through the jew­elry,” she con­cludes. @by.noorashawqi

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