Rahul Jhaveri – A Champion of Abstract Expressionism

Rahul Jhaveri, Co-founder of Studio Renn (means rebirth), is an abstract artist at heart, who happens to be a jeweller. A staunch proponent of abstract expressionism, his potent bejewelled creations compel you to pause and reflect on them.

A Business graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, Rahul was inclined towards writing poetry, photography, painting, and industrial design. Gifted with an exceptional ability to flip concepts on their heads, Rahul interprets complex ideas into simple but startlingly refreshing designs.  He finds beauty in imperfection expressed through precious wearable art, that reminds us of the impermanence and incompleteness of life. The futuristic works denote purity and simplicity laden with bhaav (emotional heft).

It was a humid, sunny morning, when I met the husband-wife duo Rahul (the Creative Head), and Roshni Jhaveri, (Head, Business Operations), in their art-filled studio in Borivali, a distant suburb of Mumbai. The atelier, situated in a bustling industrial hub, was like an oasis of art. With the bejewelled creations laid out for viewing specially for me, it transported me to an art gallery with abstract paintings – only these were rendered in gold, diamonds and gemstones and some less elevated materials like concrete.

Roshni and Rahul Jhaveri, Co-founders of Studio Renn.

Struck by their unorthodox beauty, the limited-edition pieces have an immersive quality – be it rugged and organic voids set with diamonds, play of light and reflection through diamonds and surface finishes in jagged and serrated jewels, interlocking zigzag constructs and more. The oft-neglected cacti, the humble karela (bitter gourd), seed-leaf pods, and fish bones are upgraded into modern art.

And then there’s a ubiquitous motif that appears in all his designs – a cross. The avant-garde artist explains that while most people view the world as round, he perceives it as a four-directional globe.

His proclivity towards all forms of art is discernible from the way the studio-cum-atelier is designed. Filled with conceptual sculptures and objects, Rahul reveals that he occasionally writes poetry, loves to paint and revels in the company of artists and art collectors.

Even his ideas for design originate in a unique manner. “We work on the idea not necessarily to bring out a jewellery collection,” says Rahul. He deconstructs an idea through many artistic filters – by collaborating with sculptors, painters, goldsmiths, engineers, architects, self-taught artists to seek their interpretation of the idea. “We explore the intangible aspect of the concept and leave it open-ended to interpretation. Jewellery just happens to end up as a physical manifestation of our study. It’s a confluence of various stimuli and shared experiences to simplify a concept into jewellery form.”

This soul-centred view also extends to finding beauty in imperfect diamonds and gemstones. Rahul reveals, “I trained under my father, Rajiv Jhaveri, in his company S. Rajiv Company, and learned about diamond manufacturing skills. I fell in love with partially processed diamonds – sawables.”

“Flawed” gems, sawables, precarious diamond settings inverted gem-settings are an integral part of his repertoire. A closer look reveals that each piece is a technical marvel and seem to be on razor’s edge between imperfection and perfection.

“For me jewellery is not about being timeless, what is timeless is the thought … that never changes,” the artist muses.

The organic process of evolution is also part of the brand’s birth in 2018. What started as an exercise to design jewels for kith and kin, formalised instinctually into a company. In its four years of existence (shave off nearly two years of the pandemic), the young brand has already made its mark not just on the domestic but international scene as well.

“We didn’t want to have a physical store in accordance with our transient philosophy. So, we hold thematic shows of our limited-edition pieces across India in art galleries, architectural studios, and more. It’s a holistic approach as we collaborate with artists from different streams because it’s not just about selling jewellery, but an experiential and creative outlet for our clients,” says Rahul.

“We held our first physical 7-day show in February 2019 at Gallery Maskara, Mumbai, and the response was so enthusiastic that we had to extend the show by another week. We met a lot of new people who were evolved collectors. Everything fades, nothing is permanent, and so is our show, which is temporal in nature. We are discovering the country through our shows – most of our eclectic collections were sold in Chennai, which is perceived as traditional in terms of design aesthetics!

“We are seeking international exposure and debuted in GemGenève in 2021 and the Couture Show (where they won the Innovation Award). We want to be in a place where we can contextualise our work. Participating in these shows was a phase of discovery for us, as we could identify which customer was right for us and vice versa.”

For the readers, here is our edit from Rahul Jhaveri’s ‘art gallery’

Cacti Karela Bracelet and Earrings

Reflection is the strong element of Rahul’s aesthetics – a humble vegetable gets glorified in gold. The tremblor bracelet crafted in 18-karat mirror-finished rose gold is lined with a pavé of diamonds on one side of the section in honeycomb pattern to reflect the sparkle of the gems on the other layer of the bracelet.

Netted Stick Horn

Part of (An)otherness theme, the focus here is again on intangibles. Rahul created a stretch net of gold with natural looking ‘tears’ in the metal. The Netted Stinkhorn Rotten rings in gold and blackened 18-karat white gold is lined with diamonds.

Puffball Voids

The Puffball Void earrings play on the negative space in the metal, exploring nothingness through voids that depict incompleteness. The edges of the void are designed at different angles. The bezel-set rough and smooth diamonds residing in the high-gloss finish earrings symbolise the rollercoaster ride called life.
The 18-karat earrings articulated in palladium-gold alloy are 3D printed, and the skin of the metal bears the 3D printed lines to retain the naturalness of the piece. “The challenge lies in trying to find a balance in imperfection in the design,” states Rahul.

Cacti Earrings

The Cacti collection features diamonds precariously set between serrated edges and held inside folds of gold. The exposed fragile rims of the diamonds reinforce the fierceness of the work. In the collection, the subverted blackened gold in matte contrasts the diamonds while the high-gloss gold reflects them. Above are the Cacti 5-stone ear climbers crafted in 18-karat blackened white gold, set with princess-cut diamonds varying in size from 18 to 42 pointers.

The Fish Ruby Bracelet

The Fish ruby bracelet wrought in 18-karat white gold articulates ribs and the spine skeleton with sharp structures set with diamonds, interjected with cabochon Burmese rubies. The obverse of the bracelet is lined with rubies. A combination of yellow and white gold and diamonds and Burmese ruby cabochons are used to realise this collection.

Sacrificial Teeth Ear climbers

The fierce-looking Sacrificial Teeth Ear climbers from the Claw collection are set with diamonds and rendered in 18-karat white gold accompanied by folded black onyx.

Shell Earrings

Part of the Explorations concept, the 18-karat white gold Shell earrings feature an ombré of Burmese sapphires and white diamonds.

Maps Two-finger Digna

Made in 18-karat rose and white gold, the Digna two-finger ring is set with diamonds. Digna represents an abstracted perception of Rahul’s world. “Three-dimensional forms representing the four directions are created by using intersecting planes of voluminous, reflective squares and circles.”

Seed-Leaf Emerald Earrings

The form that resembles both a seed and a leaf connote fertility, abundance, and creation. The outer fold of the 18-karat white gold Seed-Leaf earrings is embellished with diamonds, and the inner layer seen through the marquise seed forms is decorated with Zambian emeralds.
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