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Design from the Heart

Posted December 8, 2014 in Alumni

From an early age, Michael Nashef reveled in self-expression. As a child growing up in Lebanon, he loved to spend time in his father’s leather factory, where he and his brother would design their own backpacks for the coming school year.

But in 1998, Nasehf’s father lost his factory in the throes of a civil war, and the family immigrated to the United States in order to start a new life. Nashef’s passion for creating and working with his hands remained dormant until, while studying computer science at Michigan State University and working at Medawar Jewelers in Lansing, he stumbled upon an ad for KCAD’s (at the time) newly-launched Metals and Jewelry program that changed his trajectory in a major way.

“It was like an instant connection,” Nashef said of his first visit to the college. “I fell in love with the program, because what they had to offer at that time was very technical and advanced compared to what other schools were offering. “

In April of 2014, Nashef, who became the program’s first graduate in 2006, released Intersecting Hearts®, an original collection of bridal jewelry. The inspiration for the collection came a few years back, when he decided to propose to his then-girlfriend and wanted a ring worthy of the task.

KCAD alum Michael NashefAlum Michael Nashef poses with the product catalog for Intersecting Hearts®

“Just designing something is cool, but having a story or a concept behind it makes your design rise above,” he said. “I wanted to create a ring, but I wanted it to hold a special meaning.”

Each piece in the collection is named with an Italian word signifying the design, such as Puro (pure), Caldo (warm), and Momento (moment), and is inscribed with what Nashef calls the “Harmony shape, ” a symbol that represents the unique story of each couple.

ring from the Intersecting Hearts collection(image courtesy of Nashef Designs)

“When two unique people come together in love, they still remain individuals, but now their hopes, dreams, and desires intersect as their lives grow into a new life together,” said Nashef. “This collection represents this joining of two hearts. The bud-like shape which I refer too as the “harmony shape” is formed by the intersection of two hearts and represents a lifetime of growing love.”

ring from the Intersecting Hearts collection(image courtesy of Nashef Designs)

The collection, which features 30 different ring designs, is currently being sold at Preusser Jewelers in downtown Grand Rapids, as well as several other stores in Michigan and another in Chicago. Preusser has even expressed interest in featuring Nashef’s designs on a billboard.

“That’s so surreal,” he said. “It’s an honor to have your product displayed on a billboard for thousands to see every day. It’s not something I take lightly because it represents my idea and the hard work that I’m doing.”

ring from the Intersecting Hearts collection(image courtesy of Nashef Designs)

But despite the success of Intersecting Hearts®, Nashef still hasn’t forgotten the twist of fate that led him to KCAD and brought him to where he is today. As the owner and operator of his own jewelry design company, Nashef Designs, he works hard each and every day to differentiate himself in what is an intensely competitive industry.

What’s more, he’s just begun his second stint as an adjunct instructor in the Metals and Jewelry Design program, where he pushes students towards expressive design and schools them on the reality of the business.

“It’s a fine line you need to walk between being completely artistic and catering to what people like,” Nashef said. “But you have to make yourself stand out. That’s how you excel.”

See the entire Intersecting Hearts® collection at intersectinghearts.com.


  • Selest nashef December 8, 2014

    A fantastic article about my brother and his fantastic line!

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