Tunisian Designer Azza Skhiri on Her Emerging Jewelry Label, Didon

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Didon Jewelry
Photo: Courtesy of Didon Jewelry

Comfort and practicality hardly sound like they fit in the jewelry universe. Yet, somehow, the modern woman couldn’t ask for anything more when it comes to her jewels. Sure, over the top, statement-making jewelry will never get old, but when it comes to everyday use, don’t we all desire jewelry that is wearable?

Realizing a gap in the market, Tunisian designer Azza Skhiri decided to launch a sophisticated, elegant, and wearable jewelry brand, Didon Jewelry – which, as its name suggests – is inspired by the powerful Queen Didon of Carthage. Skhiri, who was named as one of the 24 Fashion Trust Arabia finalists, joined Savoir Flair to discuss her passion for her craft, and how comfort fits in the world of jewelry.

Scroll down to read Savoir Flair’s interview with the designer.

Didon Jewelry
Photo: Courtesy of Didon Jewelry

Did you always want to start a jewelry brand? Was it something you were always passionate about?
I have always been interested in jewelry – right from childhood. It is my passion. As a child, I used to carefully observe the jewelry that my family members wore. I was always digging into the origins of materials. Initially, I visited the Bardo Museum in Tunisia to observe the jewelry, then I went through books, and the internet. I wanted to understand everything about jewelry. 

The brand is inspired and named after Queen Didon, the founder of the Phoenician empire of Carthage. Can you please elaborate on the subject? What was it about the Queen and her empire that inspired you?
The Carthage empire is a part of my heritage – it is deeply ingrained in the Tunisian culture. We are taught about the Carthage Empire and Queen Didon – the founder of the empire – in school. When I first learned about Queen Didon, I was amazed. Centuries ago, even before the birth of Jesus Christ, this woman had the strength and courage to leave her home, her country, lead her people and settle down in another country, very far away from her homeland. She set up Carthage stone by stone. She sacrificed herself for her people. The story of Queen Didon is really inspiring to me, and I believe it is also very empowering. It is a strong example even for the modern woman to have the strength to live life on her own terms. I strongly believe she should be remembered. That is why I named my brand after Queen Didon.

Didon Jewelry
Photo: Courtesy of Didon Jewelry

How is Queen Didon’s legacy translated into your designs?
I was inspired by the paintings of Queen Didon and her jewelry depicted by the artists. These are the ornaments that are a part of Tunisian heritage. Even the traditional Tunisian jewelry designs that we have today are very close to Queen Didon’s ornaments. I was inspired by these designs, but mostly by the clean, structured geometric lines. Queen Didon is the central theme of my collection.

What gems, stones, and metals do you work with?
I mostly work with 18k gold chains. I love working with rose gold and black gold, but I do have a few pieces in white and yellow gold. I also work a lot with diamonds – the size obviously depends on the designs.

According to you, where does jewelry stand in the post-pandemic world? Are you expecting a major shift in consumer demand?
In a post-pandemic world, I believe we will see the shift in consumer demand by increased online sales. I believe consumers will turn to more affordable pieces that are classic yet modern and interesting. Jewelry is usually either an impulsive purchase or a sentimental and thought-out one. I think consumers will reach a middle ground between the two and lean towards relatively affordable pieces that still hold sentiment and value, purchasing investment pieces that are trendy at the same time. 

Didon Jewelry
Photo: Courtesy of Didon Jewelry

Your designs are extremely sophisticated, sleek, modern, and, more importantly, practical. What do you think the modern woman expects from jewelry? Where do you believe comfort fits into that equation?
As a modern woman myself, I realize that practicality is very important. My jewelry is designed to suit women from all walks of life. I wanted to design versatile pieces that you can pair with virtually any outfit, wear them throughout the day no matter what the occasion is. You can wear Didon jewelry anywhere, any time. I test every design and make changes (should they be necessary) to ensure that my pieces are as practical and wearable as possible, so you can wear them and forget about them. With Didon, you don’t need to worry about your jewelry.

What does sustainability mean in the jewelry industry?
Sustainability for me is very important and dear to my heart, especially in this industry. I believe that in the jewelry industry, sustainability is multi-layered, whether it is recycling gold or repurposing stones, or even sourcing ethical stones and diamonds or environmentally safe gems. All layers need to be considered. It is important to also be socially and politically ethical, respecting the social impact of where the stones come from. I personally strive to work with sustainable suppliers that consider these factors.

What is your dream for the brand? Where do you see it going?
My dreams for Didon are endless and big. I want to, of course, grow organically in the region and eventually become an international household name, I would love for someone to see a piece and identify it as a “Didon”. The identity of Didon is very versatile and can be styled in multiple ways, therefore it is relatable to every woman’s style. I have high aspirations and hope to achieve and reach this dream. 

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