Dur­ban jeweller shines at awards

Sunday Tribune - - HERALD - DOREEN PREMDEV

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.”

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