Dana Al Khalifa has spent years improving and perfecting her personal style identity via her wildly popular blog The Overdressed, which she launched in 2009. When she first started, she had no idea how much power her social media presence would eventually hold. When Savoir Flair heard that she’d decided to combine this success with her love for jewelry for a second time after launching The Overdressed Pavilion at the Jewellery Arabia exhibition last year, we were intrigued to find out more.
What inspired you to create The Overdressed Pavilion? Where did the idea come from?
The idea for The Overdressed Pavilion came to me two years before I actually launched the pavilion. I am a huge fan of Jewellery Arabia and I attend the show every year. I go to all the high-end jewelers and take pictures of the pieces I like and Instagram them or blog about them. I noticed that people would stop me at the jewelry expo and hold out their phones with my images to ask me to take them to the jewelers’ exact locations. I did that for two consecutive years and jewelers were in awe of the reaction of people and the power of social media.
All those jewelers had such beautiful pieces on such outdated stands that weren’t fresh or attractive. I knew I wanted a beautiful space where working women, like me, could buy something beautiful and wear it everyday, and not have to wait for their father or husband to buy them a piece of jewelry. I wanted the working girl to treat herself to real diamonds made in a modern way that she could walk out of the show wearing, having bought it in the beautiful settings of Hall 1, where all the high-end jewelers are placed.
When I shared my idea with my husband, he was incredibly supportive. He’s an integral part of what I do.
What do you hope to achieve with it?
I hope to expose jewelers with beautiful designs to my followers, and hopefully beyond. At the exhibition, I curate a selection of jewelers who would otherwise have gone unnoticed and present their work via social media to my followers. The end result is that I try to make the electronic physical by connecting the customer to the jeweler and start a relationship between the two that will hopefully be long lasting. Readers of The Overdressed have come to trust our tastes, and we translate this confidence that we’ve achieved through our social media channels and interactions into the jewelry industry, which at first glance is intimidating and lacks a lot of guidance. Essentially, we have created a whole new customer base that launched from this platform.
How do you choose the designers who take part? What is your selection process?
All of our jewelers are fine-jewelry producers. We look for jewelers who are not very exposed or known in our region and invite them to attend because we believe that people here will fall in love with their work. I travel to meet my jewelers and see their jewels in person before I make up my mind, which also allows me to have a rapport with the jewelers and understand what they ultimately want and expect.
My husband and I also try to always support local designers, so there are always at least two jewelers from the Gulf. This year we have our returning jeweler Charmaleena from Jeddah and newcomer Nuun Jewels by Nourah Al Faisal who is from Riyadh, but all of her jewels are produced in Paris.
Once you’ve decided who is going to be part of the trunk show, do you then participate in the curation process? Do you help them decide which pieces will be part of it?
When I select jewelers, I choose them according to their general aesthetic. I don’t like editing their selection too much, because they are the creators of the pieces and they have to believe in and love the pieces they are selling. There’s a huge variety of people with different tastes at the expo; some people like big bold jewels, others like small layering pieces. It’s such a versatile market that so many things work.
Is there a particular piece from The Overdressed Pavilion that has caught your eye?
Yes! I would love to get two more white diamond baguette bracelets from Suzanne Kalan, and Halleh Jewellery has a stunning pair of sun earrings that are so fun and easy to wear. Priyanka is launching her first fine-jewelry collection at The Overdressed Pavilion; I can’t wait to see what she’s created. Nuun Jewels‘ ‘Banajar’ bangles are the epitome of modern khaleeji jewelry I would love one in yellow gold to have a piece of modern history. Wow I sound so greedy! [Laughs]
What’s your most prized jewelry possession?
This is a tough one. It’s like asking a mother too choose a favorite child. I’m going to start by saying all the pieces I have are very special in different ways, but I’m going to narrow it down a little. There’s my emerald-cut diamond band, which I bought myself after I worked really, really hard last year – so hard that I made myself sick! Every time I look at it I feel empowered, knowing that with hard work I can get what I want.
There’s also a brilliant-cut diamond that I reset, which belonged to my grandmother. It was given to me by my aunts after she passed away and is so special to me. My parents gifted me an emerald ring with an art-deco setting, which I had seen three years before and could not stop thinking about. When I opened that box I was literally in tears! I don’t wear it enough because emeralds are soft stones and if anything happened to that ring I don’t know what I would do!
Jewellery Arabia runs from November 24 to 28 at the International Exhibition and Convention Center in Bahrain.