Although I was born and raised in India, a large part of my childhood was spent in the Middle East - visiting my father and other relatives. I continue to visit different countries in the MENA region and am mesmerized by the splendor of the diversity of the designs and patterns as well as the old and new architecture in these countries. I was inspired to bring some of the architectural landmarks, textile motifs, popular folktales and other designs to life through fine jewelry. There is such richness of design inspiration in those countries, it would take years for me to truly honor all.
Releasing the first edition of the new AX-MENA Collection, Azra Mehdi honors architecture, textile motifs and traditional symbols and folklore from the countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The collection draws from architectural influences in the Royal Fez Necklace and the Blue Burj Necklace. The Royal Fez Necklace was inspired by the beautiful central doorway of the Royal Palace in Fez, Morocco. The design of the Royal Fez necklace is intended to resemble the middle doorway’s oval/dome shaped top half (represented by the oval citrine gemstone) and square bottom of the center doorway (represented by the blue aquamarine) with the 3 bezel set blue diamonds coinciding with the largest 3 doorways in the middle. The gemstones and gold color were selected to symbolize the dominant yellow and blue colors in the central doorway.
The Blue Burj necklace was inspired by the Burj Al Arab, one of the most iconic hotels in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, designed to resemble the sail of a ship. The hotel stands on an artificial island and is connected to Jumeirah Beach by a private curving bridge.The Burj Necklace is curved like the sails of a ship with an emerald cut Aquamarine suspended at the bottom.
The AX-MENA Collection also plays with textile motifs like the paisley, which gets its name from a town in Western Scotland, and is associated with the Beatles, the flower power and summer of love trends of the 60’s but in fact originated from the Indo-Persian textile industry.
The collection explores Middle Eastern folktales in its Arabian Nights rings and cuff bracelet as well as symbols of traditional beliefs from the Arab and Jewish culture in a myriad versions of the khamsa or evil eye. Indeed, the centerpiece of the AX-MENA collection is entitled “Window to the Soul,” which is a statement reversible necklace portraying an eye with a 3 carat peridot surrounded by diamond cut rubies on one side and black diamonds on the other. In contrast, there are mini Khamsa necklaces in the predominant eye colors including blue, green and black.
The Crescent Moon Necklace in the collection pays tribute to the role of the moon in the ancient Middle Eastern world as a measure of time and temporality all over the world before the solar calendar was introduced by the Romans. The sighting of the crescent of the new moon, which only appears for a short while at sunset represented the start of the new month, which is usually between 29 or 30 days. Many countries in the MENA Region still to this day begin and end their festivals and holidays by the appearance of the moon, including the holy month of Ramadan. The crescent moon also sits at the top of mosques and minarets; and a crescent moon is found on the flags of many Islamic nations.
My hope is that the AX-MENA Collection is a fine jewelry tour of a magical part of the MENA countries and accomplishes my goal of capturing your imaginations as it has mine.