Six months ago, as the dust settled after the chemical explosion that brought Beirut to its knees, designer Nada Ghazal put pen to paper to design a ring representing the resilience and strength of a city that will not be brought down.

“The challenges we go through, versus the big smiles we always have, there’s something unexplainable there. There’s some kind of magic in this country,” says Nada Ghazal, of her fellow Lebanese. She’s revisiting the chemical explosion in the port of Beirut last August, that destroyed a large part of the city center, leaving 207 people dead, and over 300,000 homeless. It caused an estimated $15 billion in damage to property across the city, destroyed Ghazal’s workshop, existing store and the flagship into which she was about to move, and caused significant damage to her home.

Mercifully however, her team escaped unscathed and they set about clearing up and repairing their workshop and offices as soon as they could. On top of the wider economic situation in the country, the blast caused a 60% drop in Ghazal’s Lebanese market and with the international launch of the label barely underway when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, she had to work fast to expand to new markets. As soon as she had set up a contingency workshop, she was back in production with her distinctive jewelry, this time with a focus on international markets.

One of the newest pieces she is taking to market is the Blast ring, an 18kt yellow gold ring that rises off the hand to a gentle peak, set with champagne diamonds reminiscent of the dust clouds she saw after the explosion. Underneath, the ring dips down below the finger, symbolizing the challenges that threaten to drag us down, while the top reaches tall up towards the sky, diamonds glinting in the sun. The ring features her trademark volume paired with the soft gleam of a matte gold finish, a strikingly elegant statement piece with meaning.

By now, Ghazal is used to rebuilding, after living through the various economic and political crises that her country has weathered, but she believes we could all do with a reminder to stand strong: “we do get drawn down,” she says, “but we must rise up and be solid as a rock.” For this designer, that has meant moving part of her business to Dubai to be able to double down on online sales and accelerate her efforts towards more points of sale in international markets.

Her tenacity is paying off, the brand has been well-received internationally and since the explosion she has even been able to resurrect old business relationships that have led to a host of new stockists around the world, including Twist, Moda Operandi and Broken English, who have all fallen for the label’s unshowy glamour. Exploring themes of sensuality, motherhood and other aspects of the human experience, these are jewels designed to appeal to different generations, rooted in universal emotions – and experience – we can all recognize. 

“We, as Lebanese, have had so many challenges,” she finishes. “But we are not only out of the box thinkers, we have removed the box altogether when it comes to creative ways to survive and also thrive.” And as Beirut emerges from the ashes once again, Ghazal has created a timely reminder that with resilience, creativity and strength, we can all rise up.

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