Like all tales of art and accomplishment, Ikram Nakhlaʼs began with simple passion and a speckle of good fortune.His story, in fact, begins as a footnote to another. Mme. Naguib Boutros-Ghali, or Tante Anna to anyone who ever met her, was a Cairo socialite of Armenian origin known for designing Old Worldinspired gold jewelry for charity, earmarked with intricately worked and embedded ancient coins, stones and glass collected by local merchants from Egyptʼs Greco-Roman, Persian and Pharaonic periods.

In 1964, Ikram was 22 and had been assisting Tante Anna for some time, endlessly enchanted by frequent marketplace hunts for antique bibelots and her creative impulses that reincarnated them as bezels. Although still in university studying chemical engineering to appease his father, Ikram decided to pursue his furtive ambition of becoming a jewelry designer, unheard of for a man in Egypt at the time.

His first few sketches revisited Tante Annaʼs embrace of centuriesold designs and updated it with his own contemporary forms and lines, instantly impressing his mentor. Encouraging his artistic drive, Tante Anna introduced him to the traditional hand craftsmen who brought her own conceptions to life and suddenly, the Nakhla brand was born.

Initially too unsure of his talents to exhibit his work in Egypt, Nakhla began peddling his jewelry to any shops he would encounter on his rare travels to Europe. It was during a visit to the tiny resort town of St. Moritz in Switzerland that he sold his first piece, a single Roman coin mounted on silver, for a modest six Egyptian pounds. Buoyed by a few sales on his tours abroad, he decided to introduce himself to the local market.

With Tante Annaʼs support, word quickly began to spread and soon after, it was not an uncommon sight to see Nakhla entering the homes of the elite, lugging three or four briefcases stuffed with his work.In 1968, Nakhla was enlisted in the army for mandatory service, devotedly designing jewelry in his limited spare time to give himself something to live for. His stint in the army would only serve to reaf-firm the desire to spend the rest of his days doing what he loved most so, upon being granted leave from the service in 1974, he immersed himself fully in his craft, investing what little money he had saved into a few original designs incorporating the 21-carat gold he would soon become renown for. In 1975, a law passed banning the use and sale of antique pieces in Egypt, paving the way for Nakhlaʼs move to semi-precious stones. His signature aesthetic was complete.

A year later he would meet the other love of his life, a client
named Laila Neamatalla, whose keen eye for unexpected color combinations and far-reaching social network would inspire Nakhlaʼs growth both as a designer and a brand. They quickly began sketching together and were engaged a year later. Once married, they were hosting their burgeoning local and international client base out of their own home.

The first and only Nakhla shop finally opened on the Nile in 1983. It still stands in its original location today.

Nakhla

10 El-Nil Street

Giza, Cairo