meet the designer

Islam Khalil

Islam Khalil Designs is a Cairo based jewellery brand for the free-spirited and adventurous. Our designs draw their inspiration from the sun and surrounding master pieces of nature, allowing one to delve into the magical roots and beginnings of our world.

We are Ahmed and Clio, husband and wife team originally from Cairo and Cape Town. We have lived in the UK for almost 10 years, building our lives and careers in the fabulous cities of London and Brighton. One of the things we look forward to most when we return to Egypt and South Africa is the array of beautifully crafted and unique jewellery being created by designers there. We both frequently receive compliments on the pieces we bring back and the designs we see are refreshingly not “on trend” in terms of the UK and European high street.

Egypt is famous for its long history of silver smithing, with Khan Al Khalili market being renowned for its density of small jewellers and silversmiths tucked away in the myriad of alleyways. To visitors it is a maze and you may wonder how you’ll ever find your way out, for shop owners and artisans it all makes perfect sense. It is in this market and downtown Cairo that we have discovered some of our favourite designers and pieces over the years. Egyptian art, and by extension silversmithing, is known for its intricate design and delicate handiwork, skills that have usually been passed down across generations and are evident in the quality of the final pieces. You’ll be hard pressed to find a designer who doesn’t incorporate this intricacy into even the most modern of pieces, as a result Egyptian jewellery is often full of surprises the longer you look.

South Africa is fast becoming a design hub and is considered a leader in design globally. The diversity of the country lends itself to immense design potential, with artists borrowing and lending across culture and heritage. The outcome of which is bold, original and inspired art. The relative isolation of the country historically, and more recently economically, fosters a necessary creativity and resourcefulness to use what is available and accessible. The result is unconventional materials, breaking design “rules”, incorporating diverse cultural design and art practices, and almost always the use of bold shapes and colours. If Egyptian artists are known for their intricacy, South African artists are known for never being dull.

So why Nuri? Because the UK and European markets are often (almost always) logistically and economically inaccessible for many (if not most) artists. A few may break through, but much of the talent and output remains in the country. International exposure is primarily through tourism; which for both countries who depend heavily on it, has been badly impacted over the past few years due to global and domestic challenges. And so, Nuri, meaning “my light” in Arabic, was born. Nuri exists to showcase the exceptional craftmanship and design skills of jewellery makers and silversmiths in Northern and Southern Africa, providing a platform for easy and secure engagement between designers and consumers in the UK and Africa. We are so excited to introduce and make available the work of these talented designers, some of whose work we have been enjoying ourselves for years.

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