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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Vartan: Egypt’s Long-time Luxury Jeweller
During Cairo’s golden age, Downtown Cairo was a celebrated hub for all things jewellery. The workmanship and design in Egypt was unparallel in the Middle East, and foreigners and Egyptians alike would flock to these shops to buy beautiful, quality pieces from the experts. Now, only a few key jewellers have stood the test of time, and Vartan is one of them.
Vartan is synonymous with quality, design and tradition. Originally opened in 1920, this family-run shop began its modest beginnings with a small venue in the Downtown Cairo area. Ninety years later, Vartan now boasts multiple branches all over Cairo as well as Beirut, and is still going strong.
Located inside of the Degla Center on Hassan Sabry Street, Vartan's Zamalek branch has separate men’s and women’s shops. When it comes to jewellery, presentation is crucial, and Vartan spares no expense. The soft lighting, velvet and leather casings, and the carefully coordinated spot lights all come together to make customers feel that they are about to purchase something special.
And the pieces are indeed special. Delicate, feminine tennis bracelets in gold, white gold and platinum are neatly displayed in line; each with its own unique precious or semi-precious charms. Prices start at 1200LE and can go up to 2000LE depending on the stones and metal used. For something more valuable, there are also platinum-plated earrings, decorated with semi-precious stones in a wide variety of colours. Most come with matching necklaces to complete a set. A set can start at 3000LE and upwards.
Over at the men’s shop, you can find a large collection of gifts for the man in your life. White gold and yellow gold-plated pens come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the super-thin and elegant to the heavier and more noticeable. Plated pens start at 1000LE up to 5000LE, and they can be custom-engraved with a name or date. Classique brand watches are also available, as are other accessories such as cufflinks and key chains.
All in all, Vartan offers a wide variety of illustrious, high-quality jewellery. The women’s section is understandably much larger and better stocked than the men’s, but both offer quality service thanks to a bilingual and well-versed staff. If you have the urge to splurge, make sure to visit this old-school jeweller and take a look around.
Instagram-based stores are spreading like wild fire and changing with them the whole online shopping experience. From imported, as well as locally designed, clothes, shoes and handbags to accessories and makeup, one can almost do all their shopping on one of the busiest social media platforms today.
Gypsy Gems, owned by Heba and Alia Emad, sisters and young entrepreneurs, sells unconventional jewellery that is mostly silver-plated and features natural gemstones. From bullet-shaped pendants to quirky rings and chokers, Gypsy Gems offers all kinds of pretty, non-mainstream accessories. The store came about as a personal project and it reflects the sisters’ love for boho accessories.
Our favourites of those offered included the Galaxy Crescent necklace (140LE), the Opal ring (120LE), the Geode Stone necklace (160LE) and the Titanium Dipped Quartz necklace (80LE), as well as the colourful bullet pendants (130-150LE).
We opted for the Sandstone pendant (150LE) and placed our order through direct messaging the account. You can either have your ordered delivered within a day or two by paying an extra 30LE or pick up your order in an agreed upon spot. We managed to make an arrangement with them and picked up our necklace a couple of days later.
Our necklace looked pretty much exactly like the picture, with the sandstone pendant being a glorious black-purple colour with tiny glittery particles. The necklace, itself, was a little shorter than expected but still a flattering length all the same.
All in all, we thought Gypsy Gems’ take on jewellery to be quite refreshing, as well as their service to be top notch. The prices are also quite affordable, given the fact that the jewels used are mainly natural stones.