Fine jewelry designer Maria Tash Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
This summer, fine jewelry designer Maria Tash celebrated a milestone moment: the opening of her newest store, located in Prestige at The Avenues, Kuwait. Spread across a whopping 2,100 square feet, the new space is officially the third Maria Tash destination in the Middle East, with the first two opening in Dubai Mall in 2018, and Mall of Emirates in 2021. It’s clear that the entrepreneur has come a long way, having opened her first store in Manhattan’s East Village in 1993.
For Tash, it was important for the jewelry house’s Kuwait edition to tell her story through its interiors. Best known for pushing the envelope with minimalistic sparklers that tempt every shopper to load up on piercings, the designer’s new space is all about clean lines, sleek shapes, and modern detailing, bringing together a palette of soft grays, custom glass and leather and metallic accents. Perched right next to Fauchon, Tiffany, and Van Cleef & Arpels, the boutique also boasts a private ‘women’s only’ lounge, ensuring that every visitor has a comfortable shopping experience.
Maria Tash boutique in Kuwait. Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
“It has been a long journey,” Tash says triumphantly about the Kuwait store during a chat with Vogue Arabia. “I did two very successful pop-ups in 2016 in Kuwait and I have been waiting to open in the country since. I signed the store lease in the Prestige section of The Avenues a couple of years ago, but we could not get into the country to establish all of the corporate setups and fly specialized employees in due to Covid.” After years of waiting, the new flagship doesn’t just stand out for its envy-worthy interiors and invest-worthy customizable creations, but also for its futuristic touches. “It is the first location to have special tools I invented to visualize and preview jewelry for the patented Tash Helix and Hiddlen Tash Rook piercing locations,” she elaborates, proving that the only way for this fine jewelry designer is up.
A closer look inside the Kuwait store. Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
She may still be basking in the glow of the success of her Kuwait store, but there isn’t much time to stop and smell the roses in Maria Tash’s world. As she gears up for her next big openings—Maria Tash will soon be making homes in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Paris—the designer of the moment sits down with Vogue Arabia for a quick chat, where she reveals her biggest jewelry insights, from her favorite memories, to the key pieces every woman should own, and much more. Dive in!
What is your first memory with jewelry?
My first memory is rummaging through my mother’s jewelry box and draping almost all of the pieces inside on myself. She had a great laugh when she saw me with all of her necklaces on my tiny body. Little did she know how it would manifest later in life!
You’ve been in the jewelry industry for close to two decades now. Can you tell us how your love for jewelry came about?
My love of jewelry expressed itself [in my childhood] when I was drawing flowers and imagining them in jewelry. When I was 9, I was hammering metal sheets and wrapping wire into basic shapes. In my early teens, I started doing more daring designs, like attaching necklaces to studs between my ears, creating a suspended ear-to-ear effect, and wrapping wire between two fingers to create a “two finger ring”.
As a teen, I also became more involved with music—specifically goth and punk—and developed a love for multiple ear and nostril piercings. By the mid 1980s, I was gluing a gem in my navel (navel piercing were not available back then), because I thought it was beautiful, and was enamored by books showing images of Indian weddings and their elaborate multiple lobes, cartilage, nostril, and septum jewelry.
In the late 1980s, I moved to London and got my nostril double pierced and added multiple ear piercings. After completing college, I took a leap and opened my first store in the East Village, designing and fabricating jewelry and performing piercing daily on all areas of the body. My love for jewelry has been with me since I was a child, and continues today as I am still enthralled with gorgeous stones, unusual diamond cuts, clever mechanisms, and unique piercing locations.
The lapis luis collection. Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
From New York and London to Dubai and Kuwait, your customizable fine jewelry seems to have global appeal. Do you notice a difference in the tastes of the Maria Tash consumer in different regions? What makes the Middle Eastern customer unique?
Social media has been a great way to equalize demand for certain ear curations. My Middle East clients love bold diamond pieces for all areas of the body, and are not afraid to get multiple piercings. My lotus marquise clusters are popular in the region, as well as my threaded diamond charms and studs in pear and marquise shapes. They also like the large silhouette-cut diamonds (a shape I have cut for the brand), as well as our floating diamond tassel earrings. I feel like my minimalistic, invisible diamond settings, patented mechanisms, and attention to detail are appreciated in the region. Much of what is popular in the Middle East is what I wear personally, and I’m very happy about that fact.
From your own collection, what are the key pieces that you think every woman should own, and why?
I really love my Floating Diamond Tassel Earrings, and my Floating Diamond Charm Studs. The Tassel Earrings I wear in both my earlobes and helix and are a favorite because they are just so lightweight, full of movement, and very sparkly. The diamond charm studs are a hybrid between the desirable movement features of a charm and the versatility of a stud, because they can be worn almost anywhere on the ear.
Invisible set diamond star stud earring in 18k white gold. Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
I love movement and I love extremely minimalist stone settings. I gave a lot of thought with these studs as to how the beautiful diamond shapes could be gently suspended in the air, held minimally, emerge from hidden parts of the ear if desired, and sit perfectly flush with the ear. Also, I think a Maria Tash essential are my diamond eternity rings, like the five row pave rings, marquise invisible set rings, and invisible set round diamond rings. I like them in a snug fit with or without a charm hanging off for movement. These rings look great regardless of your piercing angle, sit so close to the skin, and feature my signature invisible setting and minimal pave setting.
Could you please share your top three tips on buying jewelry?
First, find a piece you really love, and ideally can wear continuously. I strive to make pieces that are very “low profile” so that they sit extremely low to the skin, which makes them very comfortable for long-term wear. I believe everyone should wear pieces that are low profile, especially studs sticking off the ear and finger rings with stones that sit on top of the finger. A very deliberate low profile setting prevents catching the stone settings on apparel, or the piece turning (on the finger) or pointing down or out (for ear studs) due to the weight and height of the jewelry above then skin.
Pearl and diamond eternity triple linked hoop earring and cuff in 18k rose gold. Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
Secondly, I think investing in pieces that are at least 14k-18k or platinum is a wise investment because elemental gold, as a commodity, is at an all-time high. Diamonds also tend to hold their value. I have made the decision not to work with any diamond that is less than VS2/G in clarity/color so they continue to hold their value. I would also choose a piece that is alloyed without nickel. In the US, almost all white gold is mixed with nickel, which makes it white. The EU has a stricter standard, and it has always been part of the Maria Tash brand to keep nickel out of all of our gold, so no one will have an allergic reaction.
Lastly, really loving a piece of fine jewelry [is important] because of its beauty or its symbolism, and having it add confidence and pride in how you see yourself is its true value.
Fine jewelry designer Maria Tash Photo: Courtesy Maria Tash
Vogue Arabia, April 2022. Photo: Georgia Baldwin
While black is enough to make a statement on its own, there is only one color that can make it look that much better. For years, the combination of stark black with opulent gold has permeated collections and wardrobes everywhere, making it the go-to for all occasions that call for insouciant, no-nonsense glamour. At the Fendi Spring/Summer 2022 runway, in particular, the pairing came in the form of black lace and appliqué detail dresses styled with matching accessories with gold hardware.
To make the most of the combination, flip it to wear a gold dress like this pleated Altuzarra number with the pearl-studded black Chanel bag for an all-out maximalist look. Create your own runway moment with the lace Erdem dress, which will look best with solid gold heels like the Jimmy Choo wedges, and pearl earrings like the creations over at Dior. For a pared-back and chic take on the combination, look to an oversized piece such as the feather-trimmed suit by Magda Butrym, or balance out the gold in your outfit by topping it off with a black jacket, as seen at JW Anderson.
Gold set, Altuzarra SS22
Dress, Erdem SS22
Suit, Magda Butrym
Blazer, JW Anderson SS22
Wedges, Jimmy Choo
Read Next: Trend Report: Your Guide to Wearing the Ever-Appealing Color Red
Nancy Ajram walks in at the Joy Awards 2022. Photo: Instagram.com
Last night, Riyadh lit up for one of its biggest celebrations of the year, the 2022 edition of the Joy Awards, which were hosted as part of the entertainment events of the Riyadh season 2021. Held under the tutelage of Turki Al Sheikh, the Royal Court and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Entertainment, the special night celebrated the work of the Arab world’s biggest stars in the fields of acting, artistic works and music, and was attended by a series of noteworthy celebrities from the region. The red carpet saw several public figures, including Nancy Ajram, Nelly Karim, Tara Ahlam, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Assala, Wafaa Al Kilani, Donia Samir Ghanem, Amina Khalil, and Dina El-Sherbiny, among many others. And it comes as no surprise that the stars went all-out with their attire for the evening.
Among the best dressed celebrities at the 2022 Joy Awards was Lebanese musician Nancy Ajram, who not only performed on stage, but also won the award for best song for her track ‘Salamat’. The much-loved music mogul attended the event in a sparkling gold gown by Alexandre Vauthier, which is a must-see for anyone who loves statement-making ensembles. Check it out below.
Nancy Ajram accepts her award in Riyadh. Photo: Instagram.com
Nancy Ajram complemented her figure-hugging gold gown with earthy makeup
If you follow Nancy Ajram on social media, you may already know that the singer loves wrap-around silhouettes. After being seen in a draped ivory dress this January, and a figure-hugging red jumpsuit back in December 2021, Ajram walked out in Riyadh last night in a body-hugging gold maxi gown by Alexandre Vauthier that cinched in at the middle in and created elegant drapes down the front. The musician’s gown also came with long sleeves and a plunging neckline for added drama.
Nancy Ajram in Alexandre Vauthier. Photo: Instagram.com
To complete her Joy Awards look, Ajram paired the sparkling gown with elegant strappy gold heels, and went with a beauty look she can’t seem to get enough of—perfectly bronzed out skin, a soft brown smoky eye, and creamy caramel lips. Tousled honey waves and a midnight manicure finished her look. As a final touch, the star added on a pair of chunky gold earrings before stepping out in Saudi Arabia.
Nancy Ajram’s makeup was done in warm, earthy tones. Photo: Instagram.com
If you’re planning a big soireé this month, a gilded gown like Nancy Ajram’s is one you can’t go wrong with. Not only will it keep you warm, it’s also bound to earn you lots of compliments.
This December, Vogue Arabia lights up the city of Dubai with its second edition of the Ball of Arabia. Falling on the same month as the nation’s 50th National Day, the gala is all set to pay homage to the UAE and its rich history with an all-gold theme. Co-chaired by Ingie Chalhoub, Huda and Mona Kattan, Mona Zaki and Zuhair Murad, the evening will also see our guest list walking in wearing a line-up of stunning gold ensembles by Arab’s favorite designers. Because after all, in a world where it only takes one dress to impress, what better way to own the crowd than with a timeless piece that is alluring enough so as to not need any accessories?
Marilyn Monroe in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, 1953. Photo: Instagram.com
‘The Golden Dress’ made its way through the most iconic moments in history, starting from the Marilyn Monroe’s iconic sunburst pleated gold lamé halter neck gown, and moving on to Elizabeth Taylor in a golden gown draped with the rich history of the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, (a role Taylor played in 1963), and of course, Cher at the 55th Academy Awards, who stunned in an eye-catching white and gold, wholly sheer gown. Over the years, the iconic golden dress has also been reinvented by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway, Gigi Hadid and many more on numerous red carpets around the world.
Nicole Kidman at the Academy Awards, 2000. Photo: Instagram.com
More recently, a memorable moment came via Milan Fashion Week 2018, where supermodels Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Helen Christensen took over the Versace show in liquid gold cocktail party dresses, paying tribute to the one and only Gianni Versace.
There no doubt that gold is back in every shape and form, as seen in the FW 2021 couture runway presentations—we saw Schiaparelli’s fully ruffled gold wings, and Valentinos’ short sleeved sequin number, and Zuhair Murad’s embellished creation, all serving major inspiration for the festive season.
Gold doesn’t stop at couture, and has also made its way into the ready-to-wear collections of Alberta Ferretti, who used the look in her FW 2021 collection, elevating it with fringes and embroidered golden pieces as a go-to. Likewise, Michael Kors, Burberry, and Rodarte added gold statement pieces to their lines too. While gold has evidently given life to the most significant moments in fashion, the regal color will continue to reign with its timeless hue on runways and beyond. If you plan on celebrating the Ball of Arabia with us virtually, here’s all the gold dressing inspiration you’ll need!
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, 1963
Cher at the Academy Awards, 1983.
Gigi Hadid, 2017
Anne Hathaway at Met Gala 2015. Photo: Instagram.com