ESTABLISHED little over a year ago by Libyan sisters Mariam and Dania Sawedeg, their fine jewellery brand Kamushki, (meaning “precious stones” in Russian) has launched their first collection Wishbone to great acclaim.
Born in Libya and raised in Switzerland and Dubai, the Sawedeg sisters’ jewellery debut reflects their international background. Made of 18-carat gold, diamonds, sapphires and rubies, the Wishbone collection includes pendants, cuffs, earrings and rings and features the central motif of, yes you guessed it, a wishbone which according to Libyan tradition confers good luck and protection against harm and negative energy to the wearer.
This collection features a modern quirky and imaginative take on designs on traditional Libyan imagery Wishbone is designed for the “contemporary, chic, courageous”woman and are already is stocked by the high-end British fashion retailer and e-commerce innovators, Browns.
The Purpose of It interviewed Mariam and Dania recently to find out more about their background, their influences, what inspires them and future plans.
You both spent a lot of time traveling with your mother as children. Where did you go and how did these experiences shape your designs and approach to fashion?
We have been very fortunate to visit many cities around the world during our childhood. Some of the places we have been to include Greece, Italy, Spain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Egypt and Morocco.
We enjoy travelling to different countries, meeting people from different cultures and being inspired by them. Hearing their stories and their unique traditions. The whole idea behind the Wishbone collection came from our love of different cultures.
Culture is the core of Kamushki.We are true cultural hybrids, taking influence from a diverse range of continents and cultures and relating to each in a small way by seeing the best out of all of them. Travel has taught us to broaden our mind and this has helped us shape Kamushki.
How does your Libyan heritage impact your designs? For instance, what is the significance of the fishbone that appears throughout your jewellery work?
Our Libyan heritage has had a big impact on our designs. Our debut collection centres around the fishbone which we have called the Wishbone collection because it’s lucky! The fish is a very important cultural symbol in Libya which is used in a lot of traditional jewellery.
It is believed that the fish disrupts bad energy and the evil eye and also symbolizes freedom, good-luck and happiness. We have modernised the traditional Libyan fish by turning it into a fishbone so that the symbolism is presented in a fresh, fun, new way.
In turn, how would you describe your design aesthetic? Who is your ideal consumer?
We like to create fun, easy to wear jewellery pieces. Our customer is young, confident, fun-loving and playful.
Your wrap-around rings are beautiful and very unusual. What inspired these designs?
When we wear jewellery, we like to stack them up so we created knuckle rings that can be worn on every finger. The fish is a symbol of protection in Libya so we were inspired by our heritage but also we just wanted to make pieces that are fun and wearable for every occasion. We love the idea that you can wear fine jewellery during the day and it doesn’t have to be something you can only wear for a special occasion.
Accessories live a bit of a quiet life behind the main thrust of the fashion world. What are the benefits and challenges of working in the jewellery arena?
Some of the challenges we face is building awareness of our brand and gaining loyal a following. However, the great thing about jewellery is that it never looses its value. It will always be something that people will buy. Jewellery is timeless.
What, if anything, do you think is missing from the world of fashion and/or accessories?
It’s hard to say that something is missing from the world of fashion and jewellery as there is so much out there. It’s just a matter of finding it! We would like to see more jewellery design that has a story behind it.
Kamushki, 70s necklace
Who are your favorite designers?
Some of our favourite designers include Fausto Puglisi, Versace, Saint Laurent and Helmut Lang.
On a personal level, from whom do you take inspiration?
Our mother inspires us. As far back as we can remember our mother always had a great love for beautiful jewellery; she has the most incredible vintage jewellery from her travels around the world. It was our mother’s influence that sparked our desire to start a jewellery line.
by Jessica Quillin