Ralph Masri is not yet 30, but he is quickly making a name for himself in the world of jewelry design.
The Beirut-based jeweler, who learned goldsmithing and design at Central Saint Martin’s in London, has topped off a stellar year with his latest collection, Modernist—instantly recognizable for its simple, graphic forms and sophisticated use of color. “I like clean lines, but I also like boldness,” he says.
The starting point for the collection came when he saw a giant compound of Oscar Niemeyer buildings that were originally built for an international fair in northern Lebanon in 1963. This group of bold yet unfinished modernist concrete structures “are like beautiful skeletons,” says Ralph. “I love architecture. That and history are always the starting point for me when I’m designing.”
Available in contrasting white diamonds and blue sapphires on white gold, or light and dark-pink sapphires on rose gold, his creations share the precision of their architectural inspiration. Knife-edging detailing in the metalwork and gemstones pave-set on every visible surface create a sense of volume and refinement.
In one earring, an oval of blue sapphires is set seamlessly into one of the diamonds. It sits off-center on the ear, so it lays flat against the face. A signet ring is entirely covered in diamonds except for the top and bottom edges, which sparkle with a flash of sapphires. “It’s the details that make all the difference,” says Ralph.
In another pair of earrings, overlapping angle-set curves of diamonds and sapphires create a sophisticated twist on the oversized hoop. It’s no surprise that Ralph says his earrings are his best-selling items.
His jewels are owned by the Middle East’s most glamorous royal, Queen Rania of Jordan. When she wore his signature emerald Arabesque earrings to Jordan’s Independence Day celebrations earlier this year, the effect was immediate. “After she was pictured wearing them, business really exploded in the Middle East,” he said. With this new collection, it’s only a matter of time before his business takes off in the U.S., as well.