By Maria Doulton
I had the chance to catch up with Alanood Al Sabah and her husband Fahad Al Hajiri, founders of Kuwaiti jewelry house Octium, at the Couture Show Las Vegas. This was an important event for Octium as it was launching the new Twist collection - the latest evolution of its fine jewelry design based around the enduring appeal and clean symmetry of the octagon shape - hence the name Octium.
The Jewellery Editor team was there for the initial unveiling, as well as to film the inspiration behind the new fine jewelry collection. The shots used in this story were all taken as we were filming, with the backdrop of the Wynn Hotel’s golf course in the hot Nevada sun. No stranger to heat, Alanood and Fahad were both cool and calm as we set up the cameras for the interview.
I first met this husband-and-wife team six years ago in London over tea at the Berkeley Hotel, when they were launching the brand. In this short time, Octium jewelry has become known for its strong visual style, all based around the minimalist lines of the octagon shape. Alanood had a sparkle in her eye as she explained the story behind Twist: “I literally took the facetted octagonal shape of our first collections and cut it open. I then straightened it out and experimented with wrapping it around my wrist and fingers. This is how I came up with the new design. Of course, I had to do it in paper first, but then I translated it into sketches and finally into three-dimensional designs.” From there, the jewelers at the brand’s Milan workshops translated the concept into a golden reality.
At this point Fahad adds: “I am in charge of the business side and manage the production process, so it is my job to make sure that Alanood’s vision becomes a reality.”
And this new reality also includes a splash of subtle colored gemstones. Green, blue and white agate and turquoise are seamlessly integrated into the soft curves of the Octium rings. Run your finger over them and it is hard to understand how these precious stones are so perfectly and snugly integrated into the gold. “It took a lot of work to get the stones set like this as they had to be specially cut and there was a lot of wastage. And then, of course, the job is made harder by the fact that the rings are curved and taper towards the edges,” explains Alanood.
“I really think it shows that these jewels are designed by a woman, for a woman,” adds Alanood. “They are comfortable and can be worn during the day or at night. They are easy to wear, yet chic and sophisticated.” Alanood was wearing the star of the show - a single ear climber dusted with diamonds. Restrained yet dramatic, it is amazing that the octagonal shape can be reconfigured to hug the ear. “Everyone loves this jewel, but so far this is the only one,” explains Alanood.
Little were they to know the true extent of the success of the Twist collection. The duo left Las Vegas with a full order book and the collection sold out. Next stop for Alanood and Fahad is Milan to oversee production of the next series of Twist, which made such a grand entrance at this year’s Couture Show Las Vegas.