Taking up the mantle from her father, Soraya is continuing an illustrious family tradition. The little girl who was fascinated by seeing the array of sparkling gems her father displayed to clients, grew up to indulge her creative imagination by making individual pieces of beauty, first for herself, then for eager friends and family – and it just took off from there.
Soraya has a diploma from the Gemmological Institute of America, the world’s foremost authority in gemmology, and has qualified as an Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP,GIA).
Living in Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – means she has at her door a vast cultural melting pot to dip into for inspiration, made up of Buddhists, Hindus, Moors, Malays, and Christians of various denominations, after successive conquests brought the Portuguese, Dutch and British to the island. A rich mixture indeed, which has provided a treasure trove of ideas for Soraya’s artistic imagination to build upon.
Whether elegant and timeless or whimsical and modern, whether a brilliant emerald baguette nestling amidst shimmering diamonds or a limpid citrine cluster swinging freely from fine strands of silver, her stylish collections cater to a range of tastes. Soraya also creates beautiful bespoke jewelry, with discernment and sensitivity to her clients’ needs.
A Legendary Journey
Jewellery is in Soraya’s blood. Likewise, the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship. Over 200 years ago, her ancestors sailed all the way from distant Arabia to the lush green shores of Ceylon, the beautiful island already legendary for its fragrant spices and exotic gems; an island known variously as the “pearl of the orient,” Asia’s “emerald isle,” and “the jewel on the cheek of India.” As you can see, an appropriate land to produce beautiful jewellery.
Five generations ago, Soraya’s forbears on her paternal side decided to establish themselves in this tropical paradise. They began as gem merchants, but soon moved from dealing in rough uncut stones to expertly cut and polished precious gemstones.
Her great grandfather M.U.M Salie, was a maverick who set off to make his fortune in Australia unbeknownst to his parents, returning with barrels full of opals and an Australian wife!
He was given the nickname “Prince,” as much for his generous ways as for the fact that he hob-nobbed with royalty around the world, and built himself two homes in Miami, and a “Castle” in Galle, the then hub of Ceylon’s gem trade. Prince M.U.M. Salie won prizes for his gemstones at Expositions as far afield as San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia and Chicago. In 1934, he donated his finest jewels to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, along with the likes of collections donated by the legendary Tiffany & Co., they can still be seen today – Grainger Hall of Gems – www.fieldmuseum.org