Alezan founder Salama Khalfan’s jewellery is inspired by horses

The Emirati jewellery designer Salama Khalfan, who recently won the Best Day-Wear jewellery prize at the third edition of Ebda’a Award held in Abu Dhabi, talks about the inspiration behind her designs and the local industry.

Emirati jewellery designer Salama Khalfan is the founder of Alezan. Antonie Robertson / The National
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The Emirati jewellery designer Salama Khalfan, who recently won the Best Day-Wear jewellery prize at the third edition of Ebda’a Award held in Abu Dhabi, talks about the inspiration behind her designs and the local industry.

Alezan is a French word that means chestnut. Why did you choose this name for your brand?

The first piece of jewellery I made was a bracelet, and the inspiration was fired up by my showjumping mare, Penelope. She sits at the heart of all of this. Penelope’s breed is a Selle Françias, which is the primary breed for showjumping horses originating from France. My horse Penelope is “Alezan” or chestnut.

As a winner of the Ebda'a Award, you will attend a jewellery-designing course at the International Gemological Institute in Dubai later this year. What do you hope to learn from it?

Even though I have focused on studying diamonds with the Dubai-based Gemological Institute of America, I look forward to learning more about design. There are tools and technology, as well as hand-drawing techniques that I have not been exposed to.

What is the inspiration behind your designs?

The only constant in my designs is the horse. My designs are inspired by the history and stories of horses throughout time. My first collection, for example, the Artalana Collection, is inspired by the horses of the Ottoman Empire. I went on a trip to Turkey and was inspired by Topkapi Palace – everything between those walls found a voice in my work. I created antique-style jewellery using modern methods, because I wanted my designs to capture that era.

What is the state of the Emirati jewellery industry?

Jewellery has always had an important place in our heritage. Some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve seen are inherent to this region; their authenticity makes me want to turn back time and become a goldsmith apprentice. The appreciation of jewellery is ingrained within us – whether from stories of pearl divers or girls wearing jewel-encrusted headpieces. This strong sense of tradition, plus the proximity to other countries and their culture, and the UAE’s openness to trade, have all contributed to the development of the jewellery industry here. Styles, designs, materials and techniques have evolved over the years, in parallel to such initiatives as Ebda’a, which is grounded in innovation.

What are you working on?

My new collection is inspired by the horse from Chinese mythology and will be launched later this year.

• Visit www.alezanbysk.com for more details

Khalfan’s favourite pieces

Artalana Full Horse Bit Cavalry Ring: A long ring that covers the finger. I love it because it is a statement piece.

Luck at First Sight Horseshoe Ring: I sometimes call it the invisible luck ring. It has nine beautifully set round diamonds, cast in white gold, covered with black rhodium.

Artalana Empress Pendant:The first piece designed for the Artalana Collection. It is made of rose and white gold, and has a horse bit between two hearts of rubies, meant to symbolise the horse’s heart and the rider’s heart.

Luck at First Sight Bangles: Classic and practical. I love wearing them because they are elegantly discreet.

Artalana Empress Falabella Ring: The Falabella is the smallest miniature horse. What makes this ring special to me are the fancy-cut diamonds, and how comfortable it is to wear.

Artalana Secret Garden Necklace: Elegant and versatile – the motifs are encrusted with diamonds and rubies on the front and back.

ealdhaheri@thenational.ae