Jewellery Time: Meet The Designer
I was recently interviewed by Jewellery Time Magazine and would love to share with you all.
Where is Shahana Jewels based and why the name Shahana?
We are based in Auckland and currently sell wholesale, direct to customers online, and custom design orders. I’ve always had family and friends call me Shahana (so weird) and it just kinda stayed. Shahana also means queen, so it felt right for a jewellery business.
What is your history in the jewellery industry?
I have been in the jewellery industry for four years, so I am fairly new, but not to jewellery. I was raised in a multicultural home with both Chinese-Italian and Indian parents, where jewellery was a huge part of our culture which eventually developed into a passion. Because of this, I started my business designing pearl jewellery and have since branched out into gemstones and diamonds.
Who influenced your decision to become a jewellery designer?
My mother was an avid jewellery collector. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t wearing jewellery. She was Chinese-Italian, and was always wearing necklaces, bangles and rings and she would layer and style them in such a cool way. We would spend hours in jewellery shops, trying on pieces and eventually requesting a custom order because she could not find anything she loved.
My grandfather on the other hand loved to invent and design things. All his life he’d be tinkering with something, either taking something that existed and changing it or inventing something entirely new. His inventions weren’t earth shattering, but it was always one of my greatest delights as a little girl to see what he had made. He would create these amazing lamps and lamp shades with intricate detailing out of pipes. In a lot of ways, they both influenced me to become a jewellery designer.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your work?
I am inspired by nature, I grew up by the beach and spent a lot of my time in the water. It’s one of the main reasons why I am so drawn to pearls. I am also deeply inspired by my heritage. I love the rich colours, luxurious textures and craftsmanship that I grew up with. Like the colours and textures on my mother’s sarees, my cheongsam (Chinese dress) and my Italian grandfather’s lamps.
What elements distinguish your collections from your competitors?
It would definitely be the colourful gems, bold designs and intricate detailing on our jewellery that sets us apart. I am very passionate about exotic, vibrant coloured gemstones. The endless hues and shades are a constant inspiration to me. When I say bold designs with intricate detailing, a lot of people automatically think big and chunky. Bold jewellery doesn’t always have to be big. To me, bold means jewellery that makes people stop and want to find out more about your unique jewellery. They are great conversation starters.
What kind of person do you have in mind while creating your pieces?
The Shahana woman is the 30-40-year old who has carried her mildly rebellious (against-the-grain) independence into a serious career and family life. Her identity is a tangle of connections to activities, places, interests, values, and aspirations. She’s urban minded - she loves cooking, wine and gardening. She’s in tune with trends, but she’s a confident individualist when it comes to style. She loves bold jewellery that connects with her personal style and allows her to stand out in the crowd. For her, jewellery is a celebration and reminder of the woman she worked so hard to become.
What materials do you like to work with most of all?
I love working with gems because of their colour and the way they look and feel. Pearls, diamonds, Labradorites, pink quartz. My gemstone preferences change with time and seasons. If a gem catches my eye, I buy it and hold onto it until I'm inspired by a design perfect for it.
Tell us the story behind the royal wedding earrings . . .
I received a message in March from Ellen, the wife of the Head of Security for the Royals. She was excited because she had just received an invite to Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding. She wanted me to design a pair of earrings for her to wear to the event. I was ecstatic and honored. When I asked Ellen why she had chosen Shahana Jewels she said: “I chose Shahana Jewels as I have been following you from the very beginning and have loved your designs. I didn’t bother looking elsewhere. I knew you’d be able to guide me in choosing something that fitted such a grand occasion. It was important for me to wear an accessory that had a touch of the Pacific. I feel your jewellery does just that while adding the element of luxury and elegance.”
I was not allowed to discuss or post anything on social media until after the wedding day, as the Royal couple had specifically asked their guests not to.
Can you remember the first piece of jewellery you fell in love with and why?
I first fell in love with my mother’s gold bangles. My Dardi (my dad’s mum) gave them to her on her wedding day. In the Indian culture, mother- in-laws give their daughter in-laws gold bangles because it signifies the long life of the husband, as well as good fortune and prosperity. I fell in love with not only the sentimental meaning behind this tradition but also the luxurious textures and exquisite designs on the bangles. I love the way they shimmer with the slightest tilt.
Do you have a dream project?
I would love to design a collection for Dame Trelise Cooper one day. I love her creativity and boldness.
What does the near future hold for Shahana Jewels?
It’s a really exciting time for Shahana Jewels. On a recent business trip to India we partnered up with a jewellery factory in Mumbai that allows us to scale our wholesale business internationally.
Source: Jewellery Time