Ziad Noshie’s Bejeweled Aquarium May Be the Magnum Opus of His Fine-Jewelry Design Career

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

Beirut, Lebanon-born Ziad Noshie grew up along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, snorkeling with sea urchins. The experience left an indelible mark of beauty on his mind. The son of a Diamond dealer, he went to the U.S. for university studies and decided to stay, ultimately opening Almaza Jewelers in Houston. But even after 58 years in the U.S. jewelry industry, those aquatic memories and a dream of making them in 3D were never far from his consciousness.

Ziad Noshie’s Bejeweled Aquarium May Be the Magnum Opus of His Fine-Jewelry Design Career

In 2007 he decided to act on his lifelong idea of creating a bejeweled aquarium. He started amassing gems and materials to make the contents—karat gold lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, and more. Noshie’s goal? “To remake the aquarium of my childhood without the water,” he explains.

A lifetime of travel for work facilitated this process and gave him access to fine goods like top-quality Turquoise from China, Lapis sourced at the annual gem fairs in Tucson, and more. By 2015, he hit the jewelry bench to create the denizens of his dry sea and remained there for quite some time. The finished product was recently completed and is available for loan to museums and for special events.

Ziad Noshie’s Bejeweled Aquarium May Be the Magnum Opus of His Fine-Jewelry Design Career

The scope of the project is mind blowing and magical to see. There are more than 50 individual sea creatures executed in 18K gold (72.83 grams) and sterling silver (965.25 grams) and set with thousands of gemstones—31,428 or 259.16 ctw. to be exact. Each piece is stamped with Noshie’s copyright. The smallest creatures are crabs in four different sizes while the largest items are Dragonfish and lobsters. Other friends include seahorses, cowfish, octopus, squid, and pufferfish. Gemstones used to make scales and fins include Sapphires in many shades (including white), tsavorite Garnets, blister Pearls, and Tahitian Pearls. All the jewels are natural mined gems.

Aquarium props include Mediterranean Coral from Torre del Greco, black Coral from Jamaica, and sponge Coral that Noshie acquired from the previous owner of his home. “It was in our house in Galveston when we bought it,” he recollects.

The container or actual aquarium itself is a real one special ordered for the project. It’s positioned on a plywood base and has a lid so that no one tries to reach into his tropical dream, a lifetime in the making. And after years of careful planning, thoughtful materials gathering from around the globe, and actual production time, there is one shockingly common material lining the base of Noshie’s beautiful arid marine habitat: a 50-pound bag of sand from Home Depot. “We got the sand there out of convenience,” Noshie laughs.

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