Imagine silver. It's timeless beauty crafted into jewellery with a tinge of tradition. The cool glow of the metal offset by the warmth of precious amber and the all-time-favourite aquamarine. At Scarabee, the new store, the pure white metal slips into exotic shapes to indulge the modern woman.

By Freeda D'souza

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Published: Tue 11 May 2004, 2:19 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:57 AM

Designs that take a cue from the past with a contemporary twist. The new store, housing handcrafted silver, offers items to buyers who care for exclusivity. One of the brands offered exclusively at Scarabee is Sheba, by Egyptian designer Suaad Raja.

Suaad Raja, herself, is a jewellery lover. Although her creations are mostly ancient Yemeni designs, she is inspired by traditional jewellery from other regions as well. "I travelled many places, also India, where I simply loved the silver necklaces. So I evolved," she said. But her designs always had its roots in Yemen, occasionally influenced by others places in the Middle East.

"Initially, I wanted to create an interest in looking back at our heritage, preserving and developing it. But just preserving it won't help. You want to make it practical for a modern day woman. Traditional jewellery, especially the Saudi and Yemeni, is huge and cumbersome," she said.

Suaad Raja modified age-old designs to make them more contemporary. I went through an evolution. "First I restored, then I blended the old and the new," she says. "Initially, I wanted to create an interest in looking back at our heritage, preserving and developing it."

And it’s not just the history that influences her. "For me it’s honestly the stones. They talk to me and then I come up with a design," she said. Suaad Raja used to design only in silver, but later worked on little of gold as well. But in her opinion, silver blends well with all stones much better than gold as its colour lends itself more to anything that it's put together with. For instance, she feels that turquoise and gold don't complement each other; the same applies to red coral. Her biggest asset is her sense of colour.

Suaad Raja worked with a lot of coral earlier, but then diverted to other stones such as argot, amber, pearls, turquoise, amethyst, lapis lazuli and malachite. "I'm an art lover. I do like to go to museums and look at old jewellery, whether it is old or contemporary. Yemeni jewellery is typically characterised by amber. The bigger the amber, the better is its combination with silver," she says.

"One important aspect that I would like to point out is that people should buy jewellery because it looks beautiful and not for its artistic value and not necessarily for its monetary value. And silver as a medium lends itself much better. I collect stones from the streets, from the lake in Egypt to make a beautiful collection. I combine them with precious stones and lay them in yellow gold. I wanted to show the contact between the priceless things that have no monetary value and expensive gold. The monetary value of these stones may be nothing, but the beauty of the stones comes out much more than the gold," she says.

Scarabee sells silver in exclusive oriental and Arabic designs, all of them handcrafted. Other than Sheba, it offers the brand Shwar by Naglaa Ezzat, jewellery by Polish designer Arkada, ceramic work by Pelletier of France, "museum frames" by David Howell and decorative items by Cristal de Paris.

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