Nadine Ghosn on her unconventional jewellery

What’s on the menu? Avant-garde luxury accessories (think blinged-out burgers and sushi rolls) courtesy of one of the jewellery worlds brightest stars. We caught up with Nadine Ghosn ahead of her Art Basel Hong Kong debut to learn more about her unconventional start in the industry, where she finds inspiration and her star-studded client list. Haley Sengsavanh reports

Since we last spoke to Nadine Ghosn in 2021, the London-based jewellery designer has kept busy. Her eponymous label, Nadine Ghosn Fine Jewellery (NGFJ), has churned out wave after wave of buzzworthy designs, all produced with top-of-the-line Italian craftsmanship. She’s been winning awards, racking up celebrity fans and turning out some of the most unique collaborations we’ve seen yet. This month, she’s cooking up a special experience for Art Basel Hong Kong. But let’s start from the beginning.

Ghosn’s background is just as impressive and unconventional as the jewellery she produces. “I always wanted to create something of my own,” she says. “I loved luxury and shiny things but didn’t know how exactly my passion would translate into a vocation. Would I be into clothes? Would I work for a big brand?”

Though her love for luxury has existed since she was as young as five years old, Ghosn didn’t immediately jump into that field. Instead, she graduated from Stanford University with a dual degree in economics and art, and began working for the esteemed Boston Consulting Group in New York.

But during a rotational management track with Hermès, she was able to get a small taste of the jewellery industry. “I was able to mould it around my interest, which was jewellery, and decided that this was my path forward despite having no knowledge of the space and little understanding of the competitive landscape,” she recalls. “So NGFJ was built from the ground up.”

In 2015, she launched her brand, and it became a near-immediate hit. One of her most beloved products to this day is the Veggie Burger Ring. It consists of six 18k gold rings you can wear separately, or stacked together to create the most delectable burger ever. There is a top bun with glittering “sesame seeds” and ketchup detail, a green veggie burger patty, a layer of onions made from princess-cut diamonds, a slice of tomato, a wavy cut of lettuce and lastly, a bottom bun with mustard detailing.

Another hero item has been the Pencil Bracelet, a whimsical take on the classic No. 2 pencil. This piece is available in rose or white gold, and the silver ferrule, nib and pink eraser are blinged-out too, with diamond and sapphire detailing. There’s also a more upscale version, with baguette diamonds
and an eraser cleverly made from pink jade.

“I think people seeing it repeatedly featured and worn differently helps build trust in the brand and wearability of the pieces,” Ghosn says. She definitely puts this belief into practice. A quick scroll through her Instagram reveals dozens of styling inspiration posts from stacking rings on rings to pairing NGFJ bracelets with pieces from her enviable watch collection.

“Most people on Instagram probably wouldn’t know this, but the DMs I get and images of stacks literally make my day and inspire me to continue pushing the envelope in the jewellery industry,” she says.

Her design inspiration can be summed up in three main themes: “human connection, interpretation and storytelling.” Ghosn is very thorough, and though an idea might strike her spontaneously, she mulls over it for months to build the design, develop the story and test the presentation. “Most of my collections and designs are linked to my life journey and travel inspirations,” she explains. For instance, her On a Roll collection, which featured jewel-encrusted sushi charms, a flashy wasabi ring and a blinged-out ear cuff that resembled dripping soy sauce, pulled from Ghosn’s experience living in Japan.

But the fun and joy doesn’t stop there. All of the NGFJ collaborations have been creative endeavours too. For 2023’s Epiphany, she teamed up with famed Parisian pastry chef Cedric Grolet to create a new take on the galette des rois. Also known as the King cake, this traditional dessert commonly features a figurine hidden inside. The Ghosn and Grolet version? Made from dozens of mini croissants, with one lucky winner snagging a secret 18k gold croissant charm worth €6,700 tucked inside. This year, they continued the tradition with a Pain Chic cake made from the pain au chocolat instead.

Grolet certainly isn’t the only big name that wants a piece of NGFJ. Multi-hyphenate entertainer and Louis Vuitton men’s creative director Pharrell Williams and trendy Parisian boutique Colette’s former creative director Sarah Andelman tapped Ghosn to create a custom piece for their 2023 Joopiter “Just Phriends” auction. The extravagant Phriendship Burger & Fries Necklace featured two 18k chains with matching blinged-out charms, made from 14k mixed gold and more than 280 champagne and white diamonds, rubies, sapphires and tsavorites per piece.

Drake also commissioned two custom pieces from Ghosn last year, which she calls a “personal highlight”. First, a dog-leash chain necklace made from 2kg of 18k gold and 50ct of diamonds for the “First Person Shooter” ft. J. Cole music video, and then a dog-bone necklace made from 18k gold, 50ct of white diamonds and 6ct of pink diamonds to celebrate the launch of his album, For All the Dogs. “Drake is someone I have a lot of respect for, and who is genuinely charismatic and supportive of new talent,” Ghosn says.

He is certainly in good company, alongside fellow NGFJ clients Karl Lagerfeld (who was a fan of the Can You Hear Me? sautoir), Beyoncé (who wore the Shut-Up earring on her 35th birthday), and Alicia Keys (who was gifted a custom Paper Clip necklace from her husband Swizz Beatz).

Another big moment for Ghosn was having a song written based on her Building Blocks collection. After receiving a custom gold Bare Block ring from her friend and Grammy-nominated rapper Lil Yachty, Faye Webster was inspired to write the whimsical song, “Lego Ring.” The lyrics read: “Your left hand up in every pic/ ’Cause your Lego ring is sick”.

But the hype doesn’t just come from celebrities. Ghosn has also been co-signed by major companies and publications. In March 2023, Sotheby’s tapped Ghosn to launch its first-ever modern jewellery collection in Dubai. It was the first time she exhibited in the region, and also the unveiling of her collection Youtensils, which features a variety of bracelets and rings crafted to imitate cutlery. For example, a spoon bracelet covered in a swatch of 389 brown pavé 11.78ct diamonds, as if it were dipped in Nutella. Or a fork bracelet with spaghetti twirled around the shiny golden prongs. To cap off a phenomenal year, Ghosn also made the prestigious Wallpaper* USA 300 list of the top creatives to know. The magazine wrote that her label was “creating chic yet cheeky collections, redefining fine jewellery for the next generation”.

So what’s next? Besides continued global domination in the jewellery space, of course, Ghosn will be taking Hong Kong by storm during Art Basel. While details are still being kept under wraps, she says it will be the first time her pieces “are physically available in Asia, giving clients the option of feeling, trying and customising designs based on their interest”. This location is also one near and dear to her heart. Despite having a multicultural background – being Lebanese- Brazilian, and having lived in Tokyo, Paris, California, New York and now London – she says Hong Kong is “the first stomping ground [she] fell deeply in love with”. Her favourite haunts include LPM Restaurant & Bar for French Riviera–style fine-dining, and Yardbird for a Michelin-starred modern Japanese izakaya experience.

Ghosn also has more amazing collaborations in the works, with brands she respects and industry leaders who share her same ethos. “I know I’m in the right field because I never get bored. I can spend hours looking at stones, vintage pieces, watches or through my safe. Even after eight years of analysing and approaching jewellery differently, my attraction, joy and love for it has only strengthened. There is so much storytelling behind it.”

Also see: Graff: Wear it your way

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