Cultural Connection Through Jewellery

Vicki Sarge, long-time collaborator and friend of Turquoise Mountain, tells us about how she started working with Turquoise Mountain and why she loves sharing her knowledge and experience with women from other cultures.

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A piece by Vicki Sarge and Saudi jeweller Obaidah

Vicki Sarge is an international jewellery designer, who makes some of the world’s most sought after costume jewellery. Mixing semi-precious stones with bold materials, she designs and makes her jewellery on site at her Belgravia, London boutique. She draws her inspiration from her own life, the energy of the late Seventies Manhattan nightclub scene, Eighties fashion, architecture, film and contemporary and ancient culture. Her pieces have been worn by celebrities from Beyonce to Helen Mirren.

Vicki has been working with Turquoise Mountain for over ten years, tutoring our female jewellers in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Vicki loves working with these women, sharing her knowledge and experience while learning about their lives and countries. Here, Vicki reflects on over a decade of collaboration.

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Vicki with Saudi jeweller Obaidah

I have had the privilege of being a jewellery designer for four decades. I absolutely love what I do and feel that I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to be creative every day. I felt I wanted to share this craft, and my knowledge and experience with other people.

Around 2008 and 2009, I met Dr Thalia Kennedy, who was then running the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul. The organisation was still quite new, and they asked me to help out the jewellery school and support the teachers there. I went out to support with the curriculum and do a little bit of teaching myself.

Jeddah Jewellery Collective

Turquoise Mountain Jewellers in Saudi Arabia

When I got there, I found out about the Turquoise Mountain philosophy – the idea of keeping traditional crafts alive in areas where they are under threat. I think this philosophy is just amazing, and Turquoise Mountain’s work is culturally significant in every country where they work. Now working in Jordan, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia, they have a unique teaching facility set up in each country, teaching different crafts.

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Vicki teaching jewellers in Saudi Arabia

Not only have I worked in Afghanistan, but I went on to work in Saudi Arabia, where we started a women-only workshop together. It is truly amazing because it allowed those women to go into the workshop and have their own workplace where they could feel comfortable. The women have also been taught by the best, like jewellery consultant Jinks McGrath, who is amazing. They are now up and running and producing pieces.

Teaching the women there, and in Afghanistan, was wonderful. I felt not only that I gave them some information and shared with them my experience, but that they gave so much back to me. It was a wonderful exchange. I really want to keep supporting these artisans and their work.