My Life in Jewelry: A Memoir

My Life in Jewelry: A Memoir

AUC Press

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By Azza Fahmy

"How a female artisan became the Arab world’s top jewelry designer"—CNBC on Azza Fahmy

The inspiring personal story of an exceptional female artist and entrepreneur who overcame great obstacles to become one of the most recognized jewelers in the Arab world and an international luxury brand

In the Egypt of the 1970s, a young Azza Fahmy set out into the all-male world of Historic Cairo's jewelry district to apprentice as a silversmith. This was the start of a remarkable success story that would make her name an international luxury brand. With warmth and candor, she recalls a happy childhood in Upper Egypt, spent in the bygone world of postwar Egypt. This idyllic start to life ended abruptly with the death of her father, when Azza Fahmy was only thirteen, and the family was forced to move to Cairo, to begin a new life under much reduced circumstances.

It was a chance find at a book fair that changed the course of events for her—sparking a passion for silversmithing, and inspiring her to seek out the master craftsmen of Khan al-Khalili, the great craft district of Historic Cairo, and the nearby Sagha, or goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ district. Through her intimate knowledge of these jewelry workshops, Azza Fahmy takes us through the quarter’s exquisite architecture and bustling alleyways, peopled with silversmiths, goldsmiths, brass workers, and artisans of every stripe, and lays out the indelible influence this now disappearing world has left on her acclaimed jewelry designs.

While Azza Fahmy’s story is one of great accomplishment, woven through it are her struggles as a single mother, a middle-class Egyptian, and a woman working in a man's profession. This memoir, a tribute to the people and places that shaped her creative imagination, is also an ode to the conviction that with hope and perseverance, anything is possible.

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