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Look: This expat designs rings inspired by iconic UAE landmarks

The 'UAE50' rings are created using platinum, diamond and natural stones


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 7:07 PM

Abu Dhabi-based American jewellery designer Tariq Riaz sold his home in the US to fund a project dedicated entirely to the UAE's cultural foundations.

Riaz is marking UAE's golden jubilee with a stunning collection of rings inspired by the watch tower of Qasr Al Hosn and the iconic Al Jahili Fort, among others.

The 'UAE50' rings are created using platinum, diamond and natural stones. Riaz, a former computer engineer, said the project took more than four years to finish.

“I am from the US. I have been living in Abu Dhabi for the past 10 years. My job brought me to the UAE,” Riaz said at the 28th Jewellery and Watch Show in Abu Dhabi.

There is an interesting reason behind a Silicon Valley techie with a background in robotics becoming a jewellery designer.

Seven years ago, his pregnant wife Zaara, with swollen fingers, complained that she was unable to wear her wedding ring.

Riaz, a doting husband, did his best to fulfil her wish. An engineer’s brain and an artist’s eye helped him design an expandable ring, which would fit Zaara always.

“It was the first time I made a ring. No one in my family has any ties with jewellery designing. I knew nothing about it. But I fell in love with the process,” he said at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

An inquisitive Riaz then learnt the craft from the American Gem Trade Association and the Gemological Institute of America. He later took classes in Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany and Russia.

“It took about nine months of travelling and learning how the jewellery is being designed and manufactured.”

Then, five years ago, inspiration struck and he decided to create unique jewellery that would tell stories of the UAE.

With an aim to launch the collection on the Year of the 50th, Riaz picked a few themes. Among them were the forts that secured communities, the Khalas date palms that provided sustenance and the Jarrah vessels that held water.

He visited Al Jahili Fort a dozen times to understand the various angles, doors, architecture and features, and also frequented Qasr Al Hosn as it was getting renovated. He named two rings '1761' and '1885' - significant dates in the history of Qasr Al Hosn and the UAE.

Finally, he started work at his studio in Mussafah. He sourced all diamonds, waited for months to get them cut the way he wanted, and finally has a collection of adjust-to-fit platinum rings consisting of 300 to 700 diamonds and gemstones, including ruby, emerald and sapphire.

“I had a nice career in the US. I made good money. We built a beautiful house in the US. I sold it to fund this project. This has got some serious money involved. But this is not a business but a passion. I got carried away with the process. Every day, the feeling I got while creating it was something that I never felt before. I didn’t fathom that it would take me this long," he said.

He underlined the collection is for exhibition only and not for sale. “This is from my heart. This is priceless. This is not for sale.”

The UAE50 collection has already won a handful of international awards, especially for the trademark ‘Abrazo’ technique, which makes the ring stretch.

“This has custom-cut diamond and highest purity platinum. Every ring is adjustable up to seven finger sizes. I won 12 international jewellery awards in the last eight months for design, innovation and manufacturing.”


Riaz said he feels blessed to pay tribute to the UAE on the Year of the 50th.

“I moved to Abu Dhabi as I found a job here. We have been enjoying our lives here. Both our daughters Eva and Emma were born here. We call this our home. And this is the place where I found my calling, found the purpose of my life," he said.

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