Jewelry designer Azza Abu Sitta chooses semiprecious stones and silver to produce unique — and at the same time affordable — creations.
by Ahmed Mansour photography by Omar Mohsen
Azza Abu Sitta knows exactly how to combine beauty, simplicity and elegance in her work. All throughout her life she has been searching for a passion — and she’s found it in silver and precious stones. After a dramatic career change, she founded Abu Sitta Designs. This month, she shares her story with us.
How did it all begin?
Two years after I graduated from the Faculty of Biochemistry in Germany in 1986, I headed to Egypt and got married. I was a housewife and a mother of four until 2004, when I decided I needed to be more than that. I enrolled and graduated from the Faculty of Business Administration at Ain Shams University, but still couldn’t find myself in it.
My being a jewelry designer was quite a coincidence. I was traveling to my family in Palestine, where I’m originally from. I wanted to buy them presents, so I decided to buy some precious stones and silver and hand-make their gifts. They all fell in love with my creations and advised me to take this up as a profession. This was the beginning of Azza Abu Sitta Designs. I learned the technical aspects by spending countless hours studying and spending time with jewelry crafters in Al-Hussien and many other places.
Why silver, precious and semiprecious stones, and not gold or any other material?
I’ve always been in love with precious stones. They are a huge world and I’ve always been keen to know everything about them. It was a sort of a hobby to me. When I decided to work as a jewelry designer, I thought merging something I love with my profession would be great. Plus, choosing such materials to work with was an educated decision. I realized they have a better market and are also cheaper for customers. For example, instead of creating one gold piece that will be sold to one person, I create five silver pieces that will be sold to five different people. It was a kind of a marketing strategy. The cheaper the material, the more experimentation I can have with my designs.
Have you sold your designs abroad?
A relative who lives in Japan, and also who happens to be a dear friend of mine, saw my work and encouraged me to take it to Japan and market it there. This was back in November 2011. As the people there are always fond of anything exotic, they found my jewelry to be unique. I’ve joined and spearheaded many exhibitions, one of them for the Palestinian ambassador in Japan. All of them were a tremendous success and a huge boost for me to continue doing what I was doing. I’ve also managed to join exhibitions in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar.[caption id="attachment_522665" align="alignnone" width="620"] Azza Abu Sitta (far right) at an event hosted by the Palestinian ambassador in Japan.[/caption]
Do you think the market abroad is better than here?
I do believe that is true. There are too many people who do the exact same thing here in Egypt. Abroad there is less competition, and my work there is extremely unique. Also, people abroad appreciate handmade items, because they know that they were made specifically for them. That adds value to my product abroad, but not here in Egypt.
What are you inspirations?
The stones are my main inspiration: their color, texture and even the way they feel can inspire me to use that specific stone to create a masterpiece that would do justice to the stone itself. Also, nature and beautiful scenery inspires me.
What kind of stones do you often use, and which are the most popular?
I use agate, garnet, amethyst, jade, and pearls. Pearls are a huge hit because people love them more than any other stone. I also use naturally mixed stones, such as azurite.
What’s your advice for aspiring designers?
People should always have the courage to try and experiment with their designs. Everyone is unique when it comes to designing. They should always learn how to improve themselves and they should be up to date. Always try selling to your friends and family first. They are a great tool for advertising and spreading your products to potential customers.