Jewelry designer Pippa Small has crisscrossed the globe in search of talented artisans and rare, ethically sourced stones. Through her work with Prince Charles’ Turquoise Mountain Foundation — an initiative that aims to revive traditional arts and crafts in at-risk communities around the world — the British jeweler has partnered with local craftspeople in Bolivia, Afghanistan, Myanmar and beyond to design jewelry collections that pay homage to these places’ rich aesthetic traditions.
One of her newest collections — an homage to the rich traditions of the Middle East — was born out of a first-time visit to Jordan last year. “I immediately fell in love with the country and the warmth of the people,” she told Travel + Leisure. On the heels of her most recent visit there, we caught up with the designer to learn more about her collection and take a peek through her travel photos.
“In Jordan, we are working with two master goldsmiths, Muwwafaw and Issa, who are passionate about creating and keen to pass on their skills to a younger generation of refugees from surrounding regions like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine. Many of these refugees have suffered unspeakable trauma, but the almost meditative practice of making jewelry gives them an escape from their reality, as well as a skill they can use wherever they go. My goal, ultimately, is to instill a sense of cultural pride in these young people and give them a sustainable income.”
“A highlight of my time in the capital of Amman was visiting the Tiraz museum of textiles, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Palestinian, Jordanian, and other Arab costumes from the 19th and 20th centuries. The costumes and weavings have been lovingly and painstakingly assembled by the great collector Widad Kawar, who has been preserving this beautiful part of Arab and Palestinian cultural heritage for over 50 years.”
“Turquoise Mountain has opened a café, retail space, and artisan workshops in one of the most beautiful spots in Amman. The old house is set in a lush garden that’s filled with scented bushes of rosemary and other fragrant herbs. The public can go and watch these makers — carpenters, embroiders, jewelers — in action, so you really gain an appreciation for the history and skills involved in each craft.”
“The Salam Kanaan Gallery has a wonderful bohemian café, with an outdoor seating area where you can sit in the shade of an old tree and watch the people stroll by. On a hot day, a fresh lemon or mint iced drink is cooling and refreshing. But the Turkish coffee is also delicious and served in an elegant long-handled brass pot.”
“A trip to the citadel is essential. The site dates back as far as the Bronze Age, which makes it one of the oldest continually inhabited places in the world. You can visit the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace and wader among the tombs, arches, and crypts. In the late afternoon sun, it is bliss to sit quietly on an ancient stone wall and watch as families picnic, play football, and fly kites.”
“One of the highlights of my trip was touring the magnificently restored Roman Theater, which dates from the 2nd century and has a seating capacity of 6,000. From there, it’s a short stroll to the Jordan Museum, where there are some exquisite pieces, including one of the earliest statues ever found of a Syrian fertility goddess, who inspired some of our new collection.”
“Dinner at Sufra is a delight. The restaurant is set within an atmospheric old house that’s so evocative of another time. The food is wonderful and there are plenty of options for vegetarians. I recommend finishing your meal with a pot of sage tea.”
“Petra is a wonder. It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine what it would’ve been like to arrive on a camel caravan, thousands of years ago, and see this miracle of a city for the first time. I loved walking through the canyons of pink stone in the early morning and seeing the Treasury, a breathtaking mausoleum carved out of sandstone. Being there was a meditation in itself.”