WHEN NIDA ARSHAD PUT HER E-MARKETING LIFE IN THE LONDON TO BED, SHE WENT FULL THROTTLE WITH STATEMENT JEWELLERY IN THE FORM OF ARTIQAZ. NOW BASED IN BAHRAIN, SHE TALKS ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN ART APPRECIATION AND WHY A BOUTIQUE EXPERIENCE IS STILL BETTER THAN SHOPPING ONLINE.
It has to be said first and foremost, Nida Arshad, originally from Pakistan, must have an astute business perspective when it comes to putting her jewellery line, Artiqaz, out there. Being a former marketing manager for E-Prospects as well as a brandmanager for Kraft Foods USA, her past life practically spells out ‘transferrable skills’. And of course she does, but her love of art goes above and beyond business.
“Jewellery was always a passion for me. I was always into arts from my childhood but also the marketing side. I did my schooling in Pakistan and then moved to the UK and did my fashion marketing degree at Kingston University. Alongside that I went to Portugal to do a jewellery design course at Reverso gallery in Lisbon. With a natural sketching ability and a gelled relationship with a craftsman from aforementioned Portugal, Nida launched Artiqaz in London – the Kingston, Wimbledon areas.
Nature is at the heart of Artiqaz. The notion of nature conjures images of leaves, trees, flowers – all of which are very present in Nida’s collection but so is an octopuss and other creatures of the sea. “I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. Everyone has a different approach but there are loads of commercial, trendy pieces out there. I wanted to do something unique. I got inspiration from nature: the elements, flowers, butterflies and more abstract nature.”
The idea of statement jewellery is an all too familiar idea and phrase but for Nida she really does mean statement: “ I want a woman who wears my pieces to let it be the highlight. Of course wearing many pieces at once is great but having one proper statement necklace or bracelet should be enough on its own.”
The collections are exclusively limited to around 150 pieces – La Fleur; Papillon and Céleste – and are completely handcrafted – in Portugal. The process is a bi-continental one whereby Nida and her craftsman collaborator based in Lisbon (whom she met during a jewellery course there) work symbiotically between sketches and samples to create the finished art. The designs combine sterling silver and semi-precious stones, synthetic opals, and pearls. “He knows what I want, I know what he wants, and it works. When I was in London I’d go regularly to Lisbon but now we have a mutual understanding.” It takes careful polishing and skill to achieve the right lustre without removing the subtle shapes and markings within a design.
“It takes careful polishing and skill to achieve the right lustre without removing the subtle shapes and markings within a design”
But London versus the Middle East, there’s got to be a massive shift in marketplace that Nida had to adjust to. Enjoying success in boutiques in and around south west London where the attitude towards art is a very different game to play, how has Bahrain been? “London is a place where art is truly appreciated. Artists can relish on so much there. The boutiques are everywhere, it’s very welcoming. I mean it’s London, it’s a hub.” But if there’s one stark advantage of being here rather than there is the luxury of time to focus and to branch out even more. “The plan is to go to stock my jewellery in different boutiques, firstly in Bahrain and pass it across the GCC as it gains more traction.” And given the e-commerce route that fashion is taking of late, will that be something to consider?
“Online shopping is very much the lifestyle in places like London because it’s so easy -you can get what you order on the same day. In the Middle East people still love the event of shopping. Jewellery is something considered.”There’s still a lot of life left with the shopper’s inhouse experience and given how delicately designed Artiqaz’s jewellery is, shoppers will want that tactile, holding-it-against- themselves experience.