When I visited Beirut earlier this year, my mission was to immerse myself in the design community – and although it was predominantly interiors I was interested in, one of my first ports of call was Ralph Masri’s jewellery shop and studio in Mar Mikhaël. I first came across this talented maker while doing research for my trip – a woman at a lighting firm in the Lebanese capital suggested I check him out. I was instantly taken by his decidedly modern, geometric designs inspired by the Middle East, and having met him at New York Fashion Week and with a big birthday on the horizon, I was intrigued to see his hometown workshop.
Like many other Beirutis I encountered, Masri speaks several languages and studied in London, at Central Saint Martins. At the tender age of 20 he was the youngest person ever nominated for a UK Jewellery Award, and for the past seven years he has steadily been making a name for himself, fusing bold designs with stunning stones. His Arabesque Deco collection, for example, is a mash-up of the patterns and motifs found in Middle Eastern art and architecture, infused with a 1920s touch. There’s a stunning 18ct-gold geometric lattice cuff (£8,000), which also comes in a version studded with yellow diamonds (£19,000), or in rose gold with pink diamonds (£13,000), as well as earrings in several materials and stones (from £1,100) and rings, too, including my birthday gift to myself – a quietly dramatic gold take on the lattice pattern (£730, pictured) that is light enough to wear while typing all day long and has elicited numerous compliments.
Now I just need an excuse to shop his newest collection, Phoenician Script, whose preponderance of zigzags seemed, to me, to channel the 1980s, but was in fact was inspired by letters of the ancient Phoenician alphabet. The lightning-bolt-like earrings (from £2,800) make a bold statement in rose gold with pink diamonds and rubies (£5,540, pictured), while the more delicate rings (from £670; rose gold, pink diamond and ruby example pictured, £3,000) have a stackable quality I find appealing.