Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Bonjour Beirut: Falamank does vintage, modern and antique jewellery like no one else…

As someone with eclectic taste in fashion, I rarely make big definitive statements about my style. But here is one which I’m sure will be true for a long long time to come: if I had to choose only one jeweller to wear their pieces for the rest of my life, it has to be fellow Lebanese designer Tarfa Itani of Falamank.

I hear you ask what about my love for antique jewellery? Well, the best part is that Tarfa makes her own designs AND picks some amazing antique jewellery from around the world to sell or even transform into statement pieces without undermining or ruining their appeal.

I was first introduced to Tarfa’s work just over two years ago on my wedding day, when my fashionista extraordinaire cousin gifted me a delicate gold and diamond bracelet, featuring a flying dove. I instantly fell in love with it as it was something I would pick for myself and naturally I decided to find out more about this Beirut-based label and catch up with the designer for this blog.

An exceptional pendant from Falamank's Mosaic collection...  
'Omri' ring: Arabic for 'My life' as in 'sweetheart', how sweet is that?
When I met Tarfa on my last trip to Beirut, we instantly bonded over our love for antiques and it’s no wonder that we spent most of the time at her showroom talking about the various stunning pieces she collects on her travels or owns and displays like her grandmother’s diamond ‘Aleme’ (a form of jewellery dowry which the husband traditionally gives his wife upon marriage), a beyond gorgeous rose-cut diamond antique engagement ring and a lot more pieces she uses as inspiration or sells to people who truly understand their value.

But Tarfa is not just a collector. She sometimes transforms smaller pieces together making one big spectacular art piece which shows her skill as a designer as well as an ultimate antique lover. The piece that blew me away and got me daydreaming was a combination of 6 antique brooches which she had cleverly made into a pendant. I don’t think any of my words can describe how beautiful this one-off piece is… truly spectacular!

I don't think I ever had as much of 'jewellery crush' as I do on this piece!!
A combination of 6 antique pieces, this pendant is beyond gorgeous...

Another manifestation of Tarfa's talent is re-interpreting antique
jewellery... Love love this ring as well!!!

This is just one part of what Tarfa does, as her line of increasingly popular delicate jewellery collections (both vintage-inspired and modern) have been frontrunners in modernizing this trade in Lebanon and the Middle East. By making some wearable and fashionable pieces, her creations are worlds apart from the dated and overly ‘bling-y’ designs seen everywhere in the Arab world and most parts of Asia.

Using 18-carat gold with precious stones like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires - all in small amounts - Tarfa manages to make fashion statements which unlike traditional fine jewellery can be worn everyday from work to play. I love her take on Arabic calligraphy of common words like ‘Hayati’ and ‘Qalbi’ literally meaning ‘My Life’ and ‘My Heart’ but often used in the Lebanese dialect to call someone ‘my sweetheart’. These are usually delicate bracelets which make wonderful and meaningful gifts for loved ones.

Whether English, Arabic or French – words feature a lot in Tarfa’s work and some of my favourite pieces are the ‘Live’, ‘Love’ and ‘Laugh’ rings combo which is a sweet reminder to make you smile on a routine day at work.  

'Live' 'Love' and 'Laugh' combo rings make a beautiful and meaningful gift!

I also love this pair of name earrings with the name written in Arabic on one, and in
English on the other! Dilemma solved!

Tarfa also loves to experiment in the ways we wear jewellery, where her items like the full finger spiral rings,  palm bracelets and complementary ring combos challenge the classical way we see these items and are ‘avant-garde’ in that sense.

Add to that Falamank’s vintage-inspired collection, and the limited edition mosaic pieces which are done with beautiful and intricate details - making them valuable pieces to cherish and pass on.

I could still write more words and even pages about the breathtaking pieces I love from Falamank but I think you got the point :-)

I’m no extreme jewellery fan but truth be told, I would not mind giving 50 pairs of my designer shoe collection in exchange for that stunning pendant which I still cannot stop thinking of…

Falamank is available at several stockists in Lebanon and around the Middle East. See the full list here.