In 2021, Turquoise Mountain Jordan teamed up with the Swarovski Foundation to help a group of promising young people from Jordan and surrounding countries begin their livelihoods in the craft of jewellery design and production.
These students learned important technical skills related to working with materials like silver, gold, brass, and semi-precious stones, as well as how to design, produce, and sell a full jewellery collection, which will help them to find employment and to start their own enterprises in the future.
As part of the collaboration, two apprentices worked on the design and production of a 100-piece collection, which resulted in SAHLAN.
Two of Turquoise Mountain's advanced students, Ghassan Al-Elwan and Haitham Shaghouri, worked to design and produce the Swarovski Foundation Collection with the support of professional designers (including international jewellery designer Pippa Small) and master artisans.
Ghassan and Haitham were former entry-level trainees with Turquoise Mountain and through the design and production of these pieces were able to continue their training and learn more advanced technical techniques, as well as skills related to design, sales, and production of a full, cohesive collection.
The production of the Sahlan Collection was launched by Turquoise Mountain in August 2021 with a series of in-house design and concept workshops for the students, focusing on Islamic geometry and Islamic embellishments. During the research process, the apprentices and our in-house jewellery designer, Hala Haddadeen, came across and was inspired by imagery of Islamic brass door knockers.
These knockers were common particularly in the first half of the 13th century during the Seljuk period, and were known for their vertically elongated, symmetrical arabesque design. In addition to their ornamental beauty and relationship to the history and heritage of the Middle East, these door knockers symbolize the hospitality for which Jordan is famous.
Welcoming guests from near and far is a core value for Jordanians and others from the region, and this concept fed in to the theme for and the ultimate name of the collection: SAHLAN, derived from the Arabic phrase for “welcome” (ahlan wa sahlan).
These beautiful and ornate objects formed the basis of the design, from which multiple motifs and ideas grew. In September, jewellery designer Pippa Small visited Turquoise Mountain in Amman to help the students develop their designs and to lead a series of design development workshops for them.
It was a wonderful and rewarding trip for Pippa and for the students. Pippa and Turquoise Mountain’s in-house designer, Hala Haddadeen, worked with the students to create eight different designs, each inspired by the door knocker motifs at the core, but with slight modifications.
The Final Pieces
The final Swarovski Foundation collection, SAHLAN, includes eight designs made of brass and gold plating. Each piece was handcrafted by Turquoise Mountain apprentices, who then cast the originals to create duplicates for sale. In total the students made over 200 pieces.