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.
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.
10 El-Nil Street