Stylish Moments

Jeweler Leila Abu Issa's designs are infused with 'fairy dust and magic'

Published 20th February 2018
Credit: Courtesy Leila Issam Fine Jewellery
Jeweler Leila Abu Issa's designs are infused with 'fairy dust and magic'
Written by CNN Staff
Leila Abu Issa cut her teeth studying French literature, philosophy, art and film. But today the Qatari designer is channeling her creative impulses into her Leila Issam Fine Jewellery line, crafting minimal designs from precious stones.
Ahead of this year's Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, Issa told CNN how she uses jewelry to add a bit of "magic" to her clients' wardrobes.
Courtesy Leila Issam Fine Jewellery
CNN: Where do you look for inspiration?
Leila Abu Issa: Usually my inspiration comes from the women around me. I always try to imagine what they would want to wear and what would make them feel good.
I try to capture moments that aren't visible and the feeling of being in nature. How do you capture a sunbeam in a piece of jewelry, for example, or represent the changing of the seasons?
How does your Qatari background influence your work?
I get inspiration wherever I am, including Qatar. Being Qatari means being exposed to a lot of multicultural nationalities. Qatar is a melting pot. There are a lot of lovely women in Qatar to get inspiration from.
Courtesy Leila Issam Fine Jewellery
What kind of jewelry -- and how much -- do you wear yourself?
I wear jewelry daily, but always the right quantity and the right quality.
What piece couldn't you live without?
My wedding ring and studs, whether they're colored or not.
How do you hope the wearer feels when wearing one of your pieces?
I hope that she feels like she's wearing a bit of fairy dust and magic. That's what I try to put into my pieces.
Which era are you most influenced by?
Honestly, the era changes with the collection and the mood, as well as the trends. Every collection is a bit different. However, I think I'm considered to be quite a classical designer.
To be honest, most of my collections start with a client. I'll look at a custom piece I made for a client and I would elaborate on the collection from that piece. So usually the collections are always inspired by you. That's what I tell them.
Courtesy Leila Issam Fine Jewellery
What is it about precious stones that appeal to so many cultures through time?
The fact that they have a meaning, whether it's a belief that they can cure or bring you luck or joy; whether it's a symbol of a culture or a land. It's nice to be able to wear birth stone, for instance, knowing what it represents.
Would you describe jewelry making as more of art or a craft?
I think it could be both. Absolutely I think it could be both. It depends on what kind of jewelry you're making.
Who -- living or dead -- would you most like to have worn your jewelry?
Definitely the royals. I would love to see Queen Rania or Kate Middleton in one of my pieces.
Courtesy Leila Issam Fine Jewellery
Quickfire: Gold or silver?
Diamonds or pearls?
Minimalism or maximalism?
Contemporary or vintage?
This interview is part of a series profiling jewelers showing at this year's Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, on from Feb. 21 to Feb. 28, 2018.
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