A gold bangle is engineered to emulate the design of the egal or aqqal – the black rope worn by men of the Gulf to keep their headwear in place. But the ingenuity of this jewellery piece lies not in its shape, but in what it conceals. A hidden compartment reveals small wax beads, which the wearer is supposed to spray with her beloved's fragrance. A perforated segment of the bracelet ensures that the evocative scent is ever-present.
"We're an intelligent brand," says Sheikha Intisar Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, a princess from Kuwait's royal family. Last month, she launched her fine-jewellery label, Intisars, with two collections. The first is Aqqal, and the second, titled Me-Oh-Me, aims to uplift wearers through positive words. In the latter, words such as luminous, courageous, loving, exceptional and happy are engraved in decorative Arabic calligraphy, with diamonds in place of dots, or hand-lacquered enamel set on swivelling disks. This way, the words can be displayed outwardly, where they'll be visible for others to see, or inwardly, where they'll touch the wearer's skin.
"I follow Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist who has proved with his research that words have an effect on the crystallisation of water," she tells me. "Positive words make the crystals of the water more vibrant, clear and beautiful, and negative words actually deforms them." This premise, that human consciousness can affect the molecular structure of water, says Sheikha Intisar, inspired her to create jewellery where enriching words will have direct contact with the wearers' skin. "If you put the words against the skin, as Emoto proved, it vibrates with the water in your skin, because our body is 60 per cent water," she explains. "And, when you turn it so that the word is on the outside, it becomes like a mantra or an affirmation. When you see it, you connect with it and embrace the word and its attributes."
In addition to being a designer, author and columnist, the Sheikha is actively involved with the Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals and the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and their Habitat. In 2013, she launched Alnowair, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting positivity, particularly in educational institutions.
Sheikha Intisar is the mother of four grown-up daughters. Her jewellery label was born out of a desire to make pieces that were meaningful for them, after she noticed that they hardly wore bracelets, necklaces or rings. "I realised we're all so disconnected with jewellery, other than wedding bands," she says. "My challenge was, how do I give meaning to jewellery?"
Although the stones and materials used in her jewellery carry no spiritual significance, the sheikha says that she believes in all sorts of energies. “But words, for me, have a different power. Everyone understands the power of words,” she says. Still, she holds the qualities of colour close to heart, too. She even co-founded the beauty brand Prismologie, with her daughter, Sheikha Fatima, who studied crystal therapy. The duo claim that their colour-coded body lotions and shower gels can have mood-enhancing effects on users. Both brands, she points out, are similar in their intent. Though jewellery and cosmetics are often used for vanity, Prismologie and Intisars target inner beauty and well-being.
Sheikha Intisar will officially launch her jewellery in retail stores in January, as she's currently busy formalising a partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross. "We're starting the Intisars Foundation in the United Kingdom – it's all about helping Arab women, psychologically, who have been affected by war. So part of our proceeds will always go to them," she reveals.
While we can expect to see jewellery from Intisars in time for Valentine's Day, the pieces from these limited-edition collections, numbering 100 each, will only be available at private events. "Our jewellery is about engaging with customers and celebrating moments and memories of love," the Sheikha tells me.
The Aqqal collection ranges from Dh125,200 to Dh201,750, while pieces from the Me-Oh-Me cost between Dh17,700 and Dh48,600.