Zeinab Khalifa: Khan El Khalili-Inspired Jewellery in Zamalek
1998, jewellery designer Zeinab Khalifa worked with the best goldsmiths
and silversmiths in one of Cairo’s oldest, most famous markets; Khan El
Khalili. Having mastered the art of jewellery making, her first very
own workshop and showroom opened in Heliopolis in 1998 and her second –
in Zamalek – opened after ten years of success.
Zamalek gallery is a modest, glass fronted venue situated on El Sayed El
Bakery Street – a quiet back road, parallel to the noisy 26th July
Street – where passersby are beckoned by the chunky, intricate
silver jewellery displayed in the window. Inside, the collections are
displayed in glass cabinets, many lit from above to highlight the
Most of the jewellery is rustic, the
majority of which is influenced by traditional Egyptian jewellery and made from
heavy, solid silver and gold – there were some, but very few pieces made
using gold and silver plating. A heavy-set, three dimensional bangle
with swirly engraving was priced at 3570LE.
Several items are
adorned with coloured stones, particularly warm yellows, browns and black
hues. We spotted two pairs of dangly earrings; one pair fashioned
large, silver circles with small black beads hanging from the bottom
(850LE). The second pair were a more unusual fan shape, with burnt yellow
beads hanging in a similar fashion (1250LE). A necklace, made up of
deep brown, rectangular beads, held together by bright, shiny gold links
was priced at 12,000LE.
An extravagant, eighteen karat gold
ring, embellished with an elaborate design and a pale blue, rotating
stone was for sale at 6930LE. A silver necklace, made up of lots of
small circles linked together, was interesting in itself, despite not
boasting any precious stones (2500LE). Another gorgeous, show-stopping
creation was a silver necklace, made up of large stars, moons and teal-coloured stones. This piece was priced at a reflective 9500LE.
also noticed a glass case dedicated to a collection of antique-looking rings
with prices starting at 700LE and single pendants, particularly crosses
for chain necklaces, starting at around 200LE.
charming glass ornaments and perfume bottles in the shape of camels,
donkeys and crocodiles (65LE-100LE). We also noticed an intriguing gold
and silver key ring, shaped like the key to the Ka’aba in Mecca. Written
in Arabic, a saying is inscribed on the side, which translates to
‘bliss is where one does not love nor lust’. This unusual key ring was
priced at 7000LE.
There were several leather and suede handbags
designed by Jasmine Maklad. The larger, leather handbags come in a deep
mauve and a bright red and were priced at 1800LE.
As we were the
only customers at the time, the shop assistant was both charming and
helpful, making for a pleasant and intimate shopping experience.
Khalifa is undoubtedly a talented jewellery designer and her
experiences of working in Khan El Khalili are evident in her work. The pieces are not as unique as the
excessive price tags would suggest, but her work oozes quality
and excellent craftsmanship.