Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

MKS Jewellery’s Sheikha Mariam reveals her favourite pieces for different occasions

We get a sneak peek at the label's latest collection and chat with its royal founder about her personal jewellery preferences

Clear bags containing diamonds, rubies, emeralds and mother-of-pearl are spread across a sharp-angled stone table, which also houses fasteners, gold earring prototypes and drawings of jewels as yet unmade. Evaluating the samples and sketches, and leading a team meeting on her jewellery house’s upcoming pieces, is Sheikha Mariam bint Khalifa bin Saif Al Nahyan, founder of MKS Jewellery and granddaughter of the UAE’s President, Sheikh Khalifa.

MKS’s Al Otaiba range, one of the six-year-old Abu Dhabi company’s four main collections, has been particularly popular, prompting Sheikha Mariam to develop new pieces for the line. “We are looking at [developing] the gold rope detail using simpler earrings and creating a more everyday look,” she tells The National in an exclusive interview.

It is not difficult to see why the collection has been popular. Its Arabesque pieces include precious stones in the colours of the UAE flag and have a twisting mechanism that allows them to flip both ways. The Sail Away selection, with its delicate gold rope design, is versatile enough to carry women from day to night. All of the pearls and mother-of-pearl used are from the Emirates.

“They are very ­Emirati with a modern twist. You get to take a piece of Abu Dhabi away with you,” Sheikha Mariam adds with a smile, as she serves her famous karak tea – often seen on her Instagram account. This is poured in cups that have both our initials printed on them, a testament to the artist’s attention to detail.

Sheikha Mariam, seen here sketching earrings for her upcoming collection, loves stacking jewellery, especially rings and bracelets, in her everyday look and while on holiday. Photo: Sarvy Geranpayeh
Sheikha Mariam, seen here sketching earrings for her upcoming collection, loves stacking jewellery, especially rings and bracelets, in her everyday look and while on holiday. Photo: Sarvy Geranpayeh

Jewellery for weddings and big occasions

Our conversation veers towards Sheikha Mariam’s ­jewellery-styling tips and her personal style. Wedding fever is running high in the UAE at the moment, with the Crown Prince of Dubai and his brothers’ nuptials earlier this month. After all, Emirati weddings are famous for being some of the most fashionable occasions in the country.

“A wedding is all about big pieces, those that stand out and capture the eye. You could either wear a full matching set of jewellery or statement earrings. Our Geogami Flower collection would be perfect, paired with a simple dress. We use turquoise, lapis and malachite, so any dress in those colours would look stunning,” she says.

If you are not in the mood for a necklace or have a vividly patterned dress, Sheikha Mariam suggests going for bigger earrings, such as the three-section drop gold circles with diamonds from the Dream Catcher ­selection.

Of her own style, she adds: “I usually match the ­colour of my heels to the jewellery I’m wearing. If I’m wearing gold heels, my jewellery will be in gold; if I’m wearing white gold, my shoes tend to be in silver or in white.”

Sheikha Mariam says that she likes to retain a familiar piece from her daily look even for a formal occasion. “It’s a great ­conversation-starter. I would wear a bangle with diamonds next to one of my thread bracelets. I like to keep a part of me in my overall look,” she explains.

Holiday jewels

Moving on to a holiday look, Sheikha Mariam says this is the time to really have fun and experiment. “Whenever I travel, I buy new pieces of jewellery that I love to mix and match. I find a piece that represents something that I have gone through and that would be a gift to myself, usually a ring. I love stacking rings, and to add them to the stories that I already have going on, on my fingers.”

She points to her current look as an example of what she would wear while on holiday or for a casual occasion: six stacked rings – including an emerald Floating Gem from MKS – and six stacked bracelets on her right hand, which were a birthday gift. They are a gold Cartier Love bangle and a Cartier bracelet, a Van Cleef & Arpels flower bracelet, a Red Line pink thread diamond bracelet, a gold bracelet imprinted with binary code and a colourful thread-knitted bracelet by an Afghan woman. On the other hand, she has a gold Chopard watch and a simple crystal stone bracelet.

She also has on a necklace from the Angel Wings collection, which she confesses to never taking off (“not even for a wedding”), and a pair of MKS custom-made pearl and diamond earrings. “I match my earrings to my outfit. Other than that, I keep the rest of the pieces on me until I feel like that chapter, that story, has ended” – which she says could be after months on end.

Jewellery for the workplace

Finally, as a businesswoman herself, what look does Sheikha Mariam think looks best in the workplace? “A pair of diamond or pearl earrings or a simple pearl necklace are perfect for a business look. Always keep it classy and polished. You also want something that will take you from day to night,” she says, which is the rationale behind Al Otaiba’s Cube collection.

“If you are wearing an abaya and shayla, I would focus more on rings. You can wear a statement ring, that is the piece that will stand out the most of all others. Or, if you are in a suit or wearing something more casual, a nice pair of earrings paired with a simple necklace could work well.”

In the end, she says jewellery is about celebrating individuality; there are no set rules. “I enjoy seeing people being who they are and expressing themselves, sharing their stories in whatever way they feel comfortable. For me, jewellery is the perfect ­accessory for this.”

Updated: June 24, 2019 09:46 AM

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