It’s not often one lands an invite to step behind palace walls to witness the unveiling of a jewellery collection. Yet, Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum chose to invite global media to the beachside Sheikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Palace in Dubai as she debuted her range of exquisitely handcrafted pieces to the world.
At just 21, the talented young Emirati designer has a clear-cut vision for success, sparkling bright, much like the glittering gems that adorn the pieces of her six-month-old jewellery brand, Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery.
The 13 pieces feature ethically sourced diamonds, alongside pink, yellow or blue sapphires, encased in white, yellow or rose gold. Skim through her Instagram account, @sanaalmaktoumofficial, and you will find a selection of notable clients adorned with her exquisite pieces.
Ahead of the unveiling at the palace, Sheikha Sana shared her design ethos with Gulf News, while speaking fondly of her grandmother, the late Sheikha Sanaa Bint Mana Al Maktoum, who served as the inspiration behind the 13 pieces that make up the ‘My Treasure’ collection.
Tell us a little about the collection itself and the 13 pieces you have put together. Is there a running theme that ties them together?
Butterflies are a running theme in the ‘My Treasure’ collection.
Why butterflies? Is there a deeper meaning behind it?
I am inspired by nature and adore butterflies because they are not just beautiful but ever transforming. I feel we as women are ever evolving in different ways too. Butterflies represent female empowerment to me.
We hear your grandmother, Sheikha Sanaa Bint Mana Al Maktoum [who died in 2006], is the inspiration behind the jewellery pieces. What in particular stood out from your childhood that you have chosen to imbibe in your designs?
Sadly, she died when I was young but I remember her as a strong, spirited woman who always walked her own path. She lived a life away from the public eye but had such incredible influence on the people of the UAE. She was very individual and butterflies just remind me of her. I feel her around me all the time, which is why I call her my “guardian butterfly”.
Is there any particular piece from your grandmother’s jewellery collection that you were drawn to and have chosen as your inspiration in any way?
My grandmother loved art deco and vintage style pieces, so while I share her love of jewellery, my style is very different.
As a certified a gemologist what sort of training did you have to undertake before you embarked on this journey?
Having credibility and extensive knowledge is important to me as a jewellery designer. I studied at the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA is the most prestigious, professional gemology school in the world. I learnt so much there. I also studied at the International Gemological Institute.
My collection uses top quality stones and precious metals so being a qualified gemologist allows me to handpick the very best [gems] of highest clarity.
Are you a jewellery collector as well? If yes, what is your most treasured piece in your collection?
I don’t really collect jewellery much since I created my own collection and wear my own designs every day. But one treasured piece is a simple gold chain necklace, given to me by my grandmother.
How would you best describe your collection and who is it aimed at?
My collection is ethereal, modern and feminine, and is aimed at any women who appreciates beauty, quality, and elegance. My collection can also be easily layered, with items worn together, so a collection can grow over time.
We understand you want your jewellery brand to create positive change for women and children, through education-related charity partnerships. Can you tell us what you have planned and what charities are you are looking to work with?
We are excited to announce details of the charity collaborations, in coming months. Education for women and children is dear to my heart, so my priority is education related organisations.
How do you want the brand to grow and mature over the years? Are there plans to take it beyond the UAE to expand to the Gulf and beyond?
Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery is not just for women in the UAE but all around the world. I do plan follow up collections to the ‘My Treasure’ collection. Details will be released in due time.
Dubai is called the 'City of Gold', with the emirate renowned for its Gold Souk. Did you ever find yourself exploring the alleyways while exploring your love for jewellery designing?
While I was learning my craft, it was not uncommon for me to go and visit various gold shops and observe them working on pieces. I wanted to absorb and learn as much as I could and often asked questions about technique and the business - it has helped enhance my practical experience studying jewellery and shaped the way I work.
There is a common perception that women don’t have the same ambition as men when it comes to business acumen. How are you hoping to change that mindset with your brand, to not just inspire Emirati women but women in general?
I hope I can be an inspiration to other Emirati women to find their passion and invest in their education. My business is only new, but I have found the process so rewarding. I am fortunate to have a family that is very supportive of my creativity and share with me ideals of female empowerment.
What is the first jewellery piece you ever designed? Do you still have it or was it sold or gifted to someone?
The Treasure choker was my first piece I designed. Each choker is numbered and I have kept the first one made. It’s very special to me and will never ever be sold.
What is a piece of jewellery that you cannot do without?
I love the ‘Soulmate’ ring. It goes with every outfit, is a real statement piece and always gets such a great reaction.
What are three pieces of jewellery every woman should have in her collection?
I think that is a very personal choice. But for me the most important jewellery is the jewellery that celebrates an important milestone, or special memory.
What is your idea of the perfect jewellery: small and intimate or the bigger the better?
I believe in quality first and foremost, over size.
Is there ever a thing as too much jewellery on a person?
My collection is designed to be layered so I do love to see multiple pieces worn at once, as long as they are pieces that complement each other and tell a story.