Durban jeweller shines at awards
JEWELLERY designer Nihal Shah creates masterpieces from gold and platinum. His talent, skill and attention to detail won him second prize in the Anglo American Platafrica 2017 jewellery design and manufacture competition.
This annual competition is held in association with Platinum Guild India and is open to jewellers across the country. It was held last Thursday at The Theatre on the Track in Kyalami, Johannesburg.
Shah, 24, who lives in Durban North, is a jewellery designer and manufacturer at Vijay Shah Jewellers in Durban North.
“Since the theme of the competition was
Indian Millennials, I felt it appropriate to design a piece of jewellery that would appeal to me and my generation,” said Shah.
“As a young Indian man, my culture and traditions are ingrained. In keeping with the theme, I felt inspired to integrate modern trends with Indian traditions.”
He said he decided to create a “meaningful gent’s bracelet” that could be worn with a watch or alone as a fashion accessory. The bracelet was a modern take on an Indian amulet.
“The element in the centre is an unconventional take of the head of the Hindu
God, Ganesha, said to be the remover of all obstacles, and one of the most popular deities in Hinduism.
“This piece also has an African flair as Ganesha shares the head of an elephant, which forms part of Africa’s big five,” he said.
Shah said he created a sculptural feel of the deity, and was able to showcase the strength of the platinum by encasing the dissected elephant trunk in rose gold.
He incorporated traditional Rudraksha beads – seeds of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree, believed by Hindus to shield the wearer from negative energies.
He also used mendhi designs on the ears and spacers, giving the piece an eastern-fusion flair. It has a magnetic clasp.
“I used red metal for the centre and side pieces because the slow oxidation will add an antique feel. The dark red is significant in Indian culture – it symbolises sensuality and purity.”
Shah said he entered the competition previously as a student and was a finalist in 2013. He was also a finalist in the De Beers Shining Light competition in 2015.
This was his first year entering the professional category. He came second and said this “recognition is priceless”.
He completed his Btech in jewellery design at the Durban University of Technology in 2015.
Shah, a third generation jeweller, specialises in bespoke and customised pieces. He describes his work as individualist. “We try not to repeat designs, ensuring each piece is unique.
“I use CAD (computeraided design). This enables clients to look at renderings before the jewellery is made,” said Shah.
He said his father, awardwinning jeweller Vijay Shah, was his role model.
“He leads by example and always strives to be the best, setting himself apart from the rest in the industry,” said Shah. “This is what I strive for – to be the best in the business of creating beautiful pieces of art.”