A cool sea breeze blows across the patio of the Al Sufouh palace where Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum is unveiling her debut jewellery collection.
The royal, 21, is hosting an intimate breakfast at Dubai's Sheikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Palace with a handful of press and, endearingly, admits to being nervous about her first official media appearance.
She needn’t be. Her passion and enthusiasm for her new collection – and, more importantly, the woman who inspired it – are infectious.
The 13 fine jewellery pieces in the My Treasure collection are centred around a butterfly motif, which Sheikha Sana sees as a symbol of transformation and growth.
“I wanted to create something that empowered women and makes them feel like they can take on the world,” she says.
Crafted from yellow, rose and white gold, set with ethically sourced diamonds and sapphires of varying hues, the pieces include bracelets, rings and necklaces that are defined by their delicacy. Butterflies wings flit between the fingers or cascade en masse from the ears.
While the debut collection from the burgeoning Sana Al Maktoum brand had its soft launch in August, Covid-19 ensured it was a pared-back affair. Nonetheless, Sheikha Sana says the reaction from the public has already been “amazing”.
The collection is an homage to Sheikha Sana’s grandmother, Sheikha Sana Bint Mana Al Maktoum, who died in 2006.
“The collection is inspired by my grandmother, who always paved her own path. I wanted to spread her story – how she was such a strong female and a feminist before anyone really knew what that meant in this region. She was a businesswoman and an entrepreneur, and some of my fondest memories are going to her house and seeing her with a bunch of men, in a meeting, and seeing and hearing how everyone was so in awe of her," says Sheikha Sana.
“She would always help people. She was a guiding force and everyone looked up to her, at a time when it was difficult to stand on your own two feet, as a woman. But her dad educated her, so she could be independent. This is a way for me to share a part of her with everyone.”
Sheikha Sana hopes to use her own jewellery brand to create positive change for women and children, through education-related charity partnerships.
At the age of 17, fuelled by an interest in diamonds, Sheikha Sana took a grading course at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), followed by a course at the International Gemological Institute.
“In the final days of the IGI course, we had this guy come in and give a speech. He said that jewellery is about happiness and about celebrating; it is given on birthdays and on engagements and other happy occasions. And I think that’s when I really fell in love with the world of jewellery.”
She used to take secret trips to Dubai’s Gold Souk, to further expand her knowledge. “I used to go to the gold souk every Saturday, without anyone knowing who I was. I used to sit and drink coffee and chat and ask questions and learn.
“I’m still learning, but I have that drive. I want to share a part of who I am through my drawings and my designs.”