Since the age of 21, Payal Shah has received numerous Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in recognition of her jewellery brand, L’dezen. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Shah grew up attending many of Hong Kong’s jewellery fairs because of her father, who supplied gemstones. But it was after graduating with a degree in architecture from London’s University of Westminster that she found her calling. “I went back to Hong Kong and spent a year at a hospitality design firm, designing furniture for Marriott Hotels and the Taj Mahal in India,” she says.
The move to jewellery was accidental, as one evening Shah happened upon her father examining rose-cut sliced diamonds, which is what she primarily uses in her designs today. “I liked the look of them because they didn’t look like the typical diamonds in jewellery— more like the rough,” Shah recalls. Her interest drove her to design a few pieces. “My dad was more than happy to let me play around and had one of his clients produce my designs.”
After six months, Shah had a collection of about 40 pieces. She decided to take them to famed retail jewellery show JCK Las Vegas. “The response was outrageous. People had never seen jewellery like mine before, and they wanted to buy and wear them.”
Shah took her initial success and ran with it, quitting her job and starting up her own business in 2011. L’dezen, which means “The Design,” is focused on creating one-of-a kind pieces where rosecut sliced diamonds are the stars of the show. “A lot of my pieces are a reflection of my upbringing and Eastern culture— with motifs like dragonflies and flowers found only in Asia. Each piece is unique, and takes up to three months to make.”
Shah has since expanded her business to the US, Mexico, Turkey and Russia, with her designs worn by celebrities including Lady Gaga, Sharon Osbourne and Taylor Swift. “My intention in creating one-of-a-kind jewels is that they find their way to the special individual who is meant to possess them,” Shah says. “When this happens, I feel I’ve created a connection between the wearer and myself, whether or not we ever have the pleasure of meeting.”