Nuun Jewels Founder And Saudi Royal Nourah Alfaisal On Who She Creates For And How Doing Less Can Work Better

HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal says she’s “a big believer that jewellery should be for the person who's wearing it”
HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal of Nuun Jewels says she’s “a big believer that jewellery should be for the person who's wearing it”
HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal

A designer at heart, Saudi Arabia’s HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal has been on a mission to create precious wearable art imbued with personality. Through her bespoke designs for private clients and her brand Nuun Jewels which she established in 2014 in Paris, the trained interior designer has been making waves with her choice of unusual gemstone cuts, and designs that exemplify movement, lightness, and balance in asymmetry. While in Singapore for the first time to present some of Nuun Jewels’ most distinct designs, from the complementary Lumiere and Ombre collections to the Brutalist-inspired Thahab series, she gave an inside look into her creative process.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to jewellery design?

HRH Princess Nourah Alfaisal (NA): I think jewellery should be fun—it should be something that you enjoy. I’m also a big believer that jewellery should be for the person who’s wearing it. So many pieces of jewellery are designed for the people who see it or for others, whereas for me, I always feel like I need to enjoy it. It has to be for me, and it has to have something that’s just me.

Who is the Nuun Jewels wearer?

NA: My jewellery is definitely for the modern woman. And when I think of the Nuun woman, I think of someone who’s independent and who buys her own jewellery, and whose jewellery brings her joy. It’s not about showing off, but she wants to make a statement. She’s a strong woman who knows what her style is. And that’s an international, modern woman, whether it’s in Saudi, Singapore, Europe or the States. When I think of who I’m designing for, there’s not a nationality, race or particular [attribute]—it’s women.

How do you bring all your influences and inspirations into Nuun Jewels’ creations?

NA: It’s all looked at through the same lens: you have your identity, and everything that you absorb has to be seen through the lens. That is your culture, that is who you are. I love traveling, and I love being inspired by all these different cultures and destinations. It’s how I feed my soul. And it’s finding those similarities, the resonances, the things that kind of work that’s the fun part for me. For example, you’ve got the Origami ring there. That’s French-Japanese, that’s the influence and the piece is a combination of both cultures. But I look at it and to me, there’s Arabic calligraphy in there. You know what I mean? So it all comes together in a way.

How has your creative process evolved over the years? How do you maintain your inspiration?

NA: When I first started out, I wanted to work like an artist, in that atelier or exhibition room kind of way. Then I found some success and I found myself on the three-collections-a-year sort of schedule, which meant there were many things we had to do, and it killed my creativity, it really did. Because when you have a business that’s running on collections, you’re thinking about how you need a certain number of collections a year that have to be wearable, within this price range, and so on. And the inspiration just died, it just didn’t work for me. And so I had to talk to my team, and we agreed that it wasn’t working. Plus the scary thing was I had had 15 years of experience before I launched Nuun Jewels, so when I started Nuun Jewels I had my clientele with me. But when I started losing them, I was like, Okay, there’s something wrong here because how am I losing the people who always used to come to me.

So we created a new way of working that honoured my inspiration process and how I worked and and was a little less aggressive. It’s about focusing on the quality, making sure that the jewellery is well made, that the designs are interesting, that it’s always focused on organically growing our style and the relationship with our clients and their families. It’s a lot less pressure. I found my joy again, let me put it that way. I mean, some people want to work in a certain way and that’s fantastic for them, but for my creative process, because I’m not interested in hiring other designers, I really wanted it to be a personal expression of me.

What’s your take on what Singapore’s jewellery aficionados gravitate towards?

NA: I knew coming in that in the local market they really understand gemstones and their quality and sizes. So I was surprised that as many people liked the smaller pieces as they did, because I really thought that those were going to used as a style reference, and then potential clients might want more important stones, and some do, obviously. But I was very happily surprised by the popularity of the minimal everyday kind of pieces. In Saudi Arabia, we have this thing where people bring in the big stones to make jewellery, and everybody has their pieces for the grand events. But people are now looking for jewellery to wear every day. You can’t wear that large pieces every day, especially if you’re traveling, for example. So that was a pleasant surprise for me. I wasn’t sure about how much they’d like the minimal styles, but they really do, so I’m very happy with that.