Donna Hourani on her favorite
bespoke creation, ‘Time’

The Dubai-based Lebanese designer is known for crafting customized jewelry pieces that tell personal stories. Here, she walks us through her design process, focusing on one of her favorite creations.

I studied interior architecture in college and got into jewelry design by accident. I was sketching again and it felt really good — that got the ball rolling. What I love most about jewelry is the emotional attachment. It’s not just about aesthetics. If it’s a superficial piece and just looks nice, then I wouldn’t be so motivated in the design process. What motivates me the most about creating something is the story behind it.

My process of creating jewelry is hearing the story and thinking of a way to design it. I first do a preliminary sketch, then I go source the stones myself. I’ll do a second updated sketch and send it to the workshop to see how it works technically. The final sketch, which is the hardest, is drawn on the computer — then we finally get the piece made.

Each piece is different, depending on the story. The “Time” necklace is meaningful and has multiple layers to it. This client told me that she had a best friend in the United States who passed away in March giving birth to her daughter. And she wanted to gift her daughter something that represents her and her mother. It’s such a sad and touching story, but I wanted to hear more about it to make something more meaningful.

It was an unexpected death and the mother only got to spend one hour with her daughter. Before she passed away, she named her daughter Time, because, to her, the most important commodity in life is time. I created a small horizontal hourglass as if to stop and freeze time. Then, on each side, I put her mother’s birthstone (Emerald) and then her own birthstone (Aquamarine). For me, this was the nicest piece I ever made — the one that I enjoyed creating the most. At the back of the necklace, we engraved “Forever in Time,” (to signify that) her mother lives forever in her.

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