Leena M. El Khereiji is the co-founder and lead designer behind Charmaleena Fine Jewellery. Leena, completed her Jewellery design diploma as an Accredited Jewellery Professional (AJP) at the gemological Institute of America in London (GIA). She also completed her diamond graduate diploma (DG) at the gemological institute of America in New York (GIA).
Hala M. El Khereiji Armed with her Master’s in international management from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, England, and equipped with a keen sense of style, Hala spearheads business development at Charmaleena Fine Jewellery.
Khansa (HA): Tell us how did you get into jewellery design?
Leena (Charmaleena): My sister and I love jewellery and our journey into the field design was a natural evolution. We were both in banking after graduating university, yet we continued to feel our creativity was undernourished. Thus, I made a decision to take courses in jewellery design and with my sister’s business acumen we naturally gravitated towards creating Charmaleena Fine Jewellery.
Khansa (HA): That is such an motivational move you guys made! What inspires you the most in the design process?
Leena (Charmaleena): As a Saudi jewellery designer, a lot of my art pieces are inspired by my heritage, Arabic poetry and calligraphy, and capture influences from time spent abroad. I believe my jewellery creates a cultural and artistic bridge between the east and west, and thus would create a strong niche in both the national and international fine jewellery arenas.
Our vision for Charmaleena is to embrace innovation and translate this into attractive timeless pieces of fine jewellery. The multifunction feature of each design is something unique and original within the national and international fine jewellery market place.
Khansa (HA): The Sword Collections and your Ca-LOVE-graphy collections truly create the bridge you refer to. How does being a young Arab woman influence your designs?
Leena (Charmaleena): Arab culture is very rich providing many sources and forms of inspiration. Historically throughout the creative industry, a lot has been both achieved and attempted, but success is in both creation and reinvention.
As a proud Arab my love for our culture, heritage and Arabic poetry continually influence Charmaleena creations; this year, we have launched the Ca-LOVE-graphy collection, which tributes our Arab heritage and will, course, be reinvented annually.
Khansa (HA): Can you tell us a little more about the influence of your Arabic heritage on your work.
Leena (Charmaleena): I always imagined that our skin is permanently tattooed with text – our life, our experiences – the poetry we love and words that are dear to our hearts so from that came the idea of designing my ca-LOVE-graphy collection and have my favorite words designed as Jewellery. Charmaleena represents my personal style and thoughts.
Khansa (HA): What is your favourite work to-date and why? How long does it normally take to complete a collection?
Leena (Charmaleena): I put my heart and soul in whatever I design for Charmaleena so I love each piece, it’s hard for me to pick. It starts with an idea and a concept, a lot of research , capturing, and then the reinvention process begins.
Khansa (HA): If you were not designing jewellery, what would you be doing?
Leena (Charmaleena): We would most likely be creating jewellery and teaching others this form of art. There is a possibility we would be sous-chefs for our sister’s catering company, Basma El-Khereiji Catering, because she creates the most delectable treats that are works of art!
Khansa (HA): What does 2013 hold for Charmaleena?
Leena (Charmaleena): 2013 has many surprises! We launched our Swords of Love Collection, the Ca-LOVE-graphy collection, and soon we will be introducing our limited edition line of the Freedom collection during Ramadan.
Khansa (HA): Those are some great collections. Can’t wait to see your limited edition line! Who do you recommend we check out?
Leena (Charmaleena): Charmaleena Fine Jewellery!
Khansa (HA): We are recommending that already! What is your dream project?
Leena (Charmaleena): The dream project would be to contribute to the design infrastructure in Saudi Arabia; work towards developing a proper jeweler design school/institute; to collaborate with jewellery professionals from the industry; to have accessibility to jewellery manufacturers locally that adhere to the highest quality standards and to employee Saudi women.
Khansa (HA): That is just so beautiful a dream! We would totally love to see that dream in practice! Do you remember the first piece of jewellery you created?
Leena (Charmaleena): Prior to launching Charmaleena, I channelled over three years of work experience and creative design and entered the Al Sunaidi Jewellery Exhibition Competition in Jeddah in April 2011. I was awarded first place for the best Islamic design inspired by Islamic architecture; this gave me the affirmation I needed, along with the support of my family, to pursue my dreams to become a jewellery designer, and to launch my brand, Charmaleena.
Since receiving my award in 2011, I have launched my internationally registered brand, Charmaleena Fine Jewellery, with the mission to make original, art inspired pieces of fine jewellery. My first collection, the Freedom collection, is delicate and multifunctional, as the wing-shaped pendant also adjusts to transform into an elegant pair of earrings.
Khansa (HA): What has been your best moment of 2013?
Leena (Charmaleena): My best moments from 2013 are: when an idea is still a dream it’s always a challenge to visualize the end result, but once the idea has been executed into reality, it’s the best and one of the most fulfilling feelings, like our 2013 collections; when I see my designs connecting with peoples emotions, and when I see my clients smile or to have a sense of nostalgia when seeing my pieces.
Khansa (HA): What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I will sum up some great advice :
- Find your way
- Do things with passion
- Take a lot of chances
- Keep on going and never give up
- Stay curious
- Give good to get good!
- Live healthy
- Keep the balance
- Trust your guts!
- Always be you !
And of course, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and determination to achieve something, but as long as your heart is set in the right place, success will greet you right around the corner.
Here, we have come to the end of our interview with a lot of beautiful advice to succeed in your own dream. If El Khereiji sisters have done it, so can you! We look forward to the emergence of more brilliance in fine jewellery inspired by Arabia.
Thinking of gifting someone? I say pick Charmaleena!