Vishal Kothari, Founder and Creative Head of VAK, once again waves a magic wand to conjure yet another spellbinding bejewelled collection, The Arch of Heaven. The iconic artist speaks about his labour of love.
The dominating arch silhouettes have been an integral part of world architecture since centuries. Deeply inspired by architectural elements, avant-garde artist, Vishal Kothari reveals the work that went into creating the seductive Arch of Heaven collection.
Why have you chosen the arch as the key motif for your new line?
My design vocabulary draws from art, sculpture, and motifs in architecture. I adore architects who create, build structures and edifices, homes, and places of sheer beauty. There are so many movements in architecture that leave one mesmerised … but you’ll find Art Nouveau, Gothic and, at times, Mughal influences in my work.
My design vocabulary draws from this art in old buildings, sculpture and motifs in architecture. The Arch of Heaven is for me the gateway to heaven … to paradise.
Of the many types of arches, which ones have you articulated in the collection? We can see ogee and oriental and some other stylised arches in the collection.
My arches are a nod to history from pre-existing indigenous Hindu buildings to Turkish and Iranian architecture that trickled into India with the Mughals. Arches are part of the DNA of India and many global cultures.
I call it the Arch of Heaven and it is my ode to the arches related to the Mughal history of the subcontinent. Arches represent a welcome, a homecoming. These three-dimensional sensations are a mix of many worlds … Worlds of yesterday and today, wafting between centuries.
How did you meld old-world charm and new-age sophistication?
Bridging the gap between antiquity and contemporary, I have tried to lend a modern expression to traditional Mughal design in some of my Arch of Heaven earrings and rings. The use of portrait-cut diamonds evokes the legacy of Mughal art.
Patronised by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the portrait-cut diamond originally covered miniature paintings. Portrait-cuts are among the earliest cut diamonds … in fact, these shards of diamonds are like slivers of magic. Usually colourless, with a very high clarity grade, portrait-cut diamonds are flawless and incredibly sophisticated.
My collection pays homage to the rich gem history of Mughal portrait cuts, which are also a personal favourite of mine. Crafting these cuts with precision I have tried to create a contemporary idiom in the rings, earrings, and necklaces to manifest a seamless, floating vision of diamonds!
How long did it take you to cut the gemstones and diamonds to replicate the arches?
The process can take anywhere from three to six months to create an arch. It is all handcrafted in my atelier by artisans who have imbibed the values of slow luxury that is created with heart.
Other than portrait cuts, which are the predominant gem cuts that you have employed in the Arch of Heaven?
Typically, the construct of the Arch of Heaven is with a Portrait-cut diamonds with a high gemstone in the centre. We have used the highest quality non-treated spinels, rubies, emeralds and blue sapphires.
I’ve been told VAK’s signature Arches are the perfect ‘pick me up’ and an architectural statement with a nod to history. That always brings a smile to my face.
How challenging was the concept for you?
The vast architectural legacy of India has moved me and my gemstones to metamorphose into bold yet wearable pieces of jewellery. My fascination with architecture almost organically resulted in the idea that I wanted to convey. To depict elements of these fabulous architectural edifices and motifs on a canvas of jewels was very humbling.
I believe in slow luxury and create high artisanal handcrafted jewellery with rare gemstones handpicked by me. Each piece is one-off, created by my artisans in my atelier in Mumbai.
I create from the heart. My inspiration could be nature, architecture, little things around me that make me smile. I work with important and rare stones such as Colombian emeralds, Burmese rubies, and spinels and often the brilliance of a gemstone inspires me to create an expression around it.
Jewellery is a canvas for me to express what I want to say. I like to think my pieces are intelligent, with a point of view.