A pair of earrings, dedicated to the Mughal-era political scholar Nur Jahan, is inspired by the Achaemenid dynasty’s Oxus treasure, a collection of 180 surviving pieces of metalwork in gold and silver.
A bracelet is designed after the pieces worn and decorated by Fulani women, the nomadic pastoralists from North and West Africa known for their delicate ornamentation.
Elsewhere, a portrait of Mira Bai, the Rajasthani widow who refused to accept a life of persecution after the death of her husband, adorns a pair of earrings.
In a world where social media creates endless opportunities to shop for jewellery and find novel brands to experiment with and then move on from, Pierre Gemme by Hur offers a reason to pause.
Its three founders were born in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, and have since lived and worked in more than 75 countries. Twins Hira and Hajra, and their younger sister Hina, have created an innovative brand designed around prominent female figures in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
From Yemeni activist Bushra Al Fusail and Julia, a refugee from South Sudan’s Dinka tribe, to Indian artist Shilo Shiv Suleman and Korean-American documentary-maker Joi Lee, Pierre Gemme dedicates its jewels to strong, independent, inspiring women.
Sharing stories of feminism
Pierre Gemme is above all a storytelling platform, with a fascination for history and a desire to promote Pakistan’s oft-overlooked treasure trove of gemstones, such as emeralds, peridots, aquamarines and rubies.
Its founders’ experiences abroad and the women they've met continues to spark their creative process. The brand name is a hybrid: piergemme means gemstones in French and Hur stands for their father, Hafeez-Ur-Rehman, a civil servant and master storyteller himself.
“The [jewels] start a conversation by telling people where a piece is derived from, and about various patterns, arts and iconic figures that are not well known, but should be celebrated,” say the sisters, who have created jobs for seven female artisans after training them in carving, stone handling and other aspects of the jewellery-making process.
"We believe telling and hearing stories is the most powerful means to educate, influence and inspire others. Stories create connections. Stories also challenge and help us understand our place. We are seizing the power of this simple form of art by combining it with jewellery."
The designs and gemstones may change, but the brand’s narrative stays resoundingly true to itself. Last December, for example, Pierre Gemme shot a campaign with women from 37 countries sporting its One Sisterhood earrings, “a piece that strives to ensure this community is welcoming, accepting and understanding of the full spectrum of womanhood”.
The brand donated 10 per cent of sale proceeds to Kakenya’s Dream, a Kenyan NGO it regularly supports and that empowers girls from rural communities through education.
The sisters’ latest endeavour has its finger on the pulse of our current political and culture climate. Co-created with social justice activist Fatou Wurie from Sierra Leone, Ingaso (which means break of dawn) is a tribute to the resilience of women of colour globally. It pays homage to the way women were able to uphold their families and communities in otherwise difficult circumstances in the face of a pandemic that highlighted racial tension, economic depravity and political turmoil.
The collection, like all others, serves a dual purpose: it illuminates the stories of women vis a vie jewellery, as well as gives each woman who wears the pieces the right to own her own narrative.
“After all, each piece we create connects us to our identity, and we want to [promote] the same experience of belonging for anyone who wears our jewellery.”