Shahla Karimi: Bridging Emotions & Artistry Through Fine Jewellery

Headquartered in New York, Shahla Karimi Jewelry has an individualistic signature influenced by architecture and Persian heritage. The visionary Founder Designer  Shahla Karimi is committed to crafting one-off pieces to preserve not just the art of fine jewellery, but underscore the importance of emotions and psychology of the wearer. Her bespoke commissions, too, endeavour to etch memories in the fabric of fine jewellery to tell a compelling tale.  Even her men’s collection, JOON By Shahla, draws inspiration from the Farsi term of endearment. The name Joon signifies the importance of selecting  a partner who becomes your soulmate and gives meaning to your existence. 

Shahla is a passionate horticulturist and believes that just as caring for plants contributes to a healthier planet, practising sustainable ethics while making high-end jewellery aligns well with her philosophy.

You possess a diverse range of talents, including expertise as a merchandise specialist and curator of apparel for Vogue, along with exceptional skills as a jewellery designer. Could you share the story behind your transition to jewellery designing, including the motivations that drove this shift? 

The journey to jewellery designing is deeply rooted in my life’s fabric. Growing up in a Persian culture where jewellery gifting is cherished, those memories left an indelible mark. Inspired by these recollections, I began crafting jewellery by hand, discovering an unwavering passion. After many years working and learning from others, this passion propelled me to establish my own brand, a heartfelt decision that encapsulates my artistic essence and pays homage to tradition.

Shahla Karimi

Could you provide insights into the origins of your eponymous brand? 

Shahla Karimi Jewelry is inspired by architecture and graphic design, with both form and function carrying equal weight. With a focus on primary shapes and fine materials, the designs oft play with unexpected gemstone position and proportion.

The Cluster Gap Ring balances nine claw-set diamonds on a wide cigar band. By Shahla Karimi

Your design identity is instantly recognizable, characterised by architectural forms and innovative gemstone placements. How did you go about cultivating this unique style in your creations?

Thank-you! We typically look to the past for inspiration –specifically in fashion, architecture, art, or an era. However, more recently we found ourselves pulling inspiration from the world we are living in today. This is prominent in our most recent designs as they formed around the idea of celebrating life and making bold statements rather than reworking styles of the past.

Long baguette V ring hand crafted with recycled gold. By Shahla Karimi

In your artistic journey, what are the primary sources of inspiration that consistently drive you? Can you identify three recurring elements that frequently find their way into your creative themes? 

My journey is consistently fuelled by three primary sources of inspiration: art, architecture, and past eras. These elements blend seamlessly into my creative themes, infusing my designs with the fluidity of art, the structure of architecture, and the unique aesthetics of bygone times. These influences are the driving force behind our creations, resulting in pieces that resonate with depth and cultural significance.

Delving into your creative process, do you find that gemstones act as the catalysts for sketching your designs, or does the artistic vision come first, inspiring the choice and arrangement of gems? 

While my design process varies, I can say that both gemstones and artistic vision play significant roles. Often, my inspiration stems from the architectural realm. However, there are instances where a singular unique gemstone can spark an entire collection. The dynamic interaction of these two elements adds a sense of intrigue and versatility to my creative process.

Handmade with reclaimed metal, the JOON band shows off a bezel-set trapezoid diamond. By Shahla Karimi

Your brand is committed to advocating the use of reclaimed metals and ethically sourced gemstones, reflecting an environmentally conscious philosophy. Could you elaborate on the guiding principles of your brand and the steps you take to promote sustainability? 

We understand the pivotal importance of safeguarding our planet and making positive contributions to the communities we engage with. Within our jewellery line, each stone undergoes meticulous selection and certification through the Kimberly Process, while the gold used in each of our designs is exclusively reclaimed. These practices align seamlessly with our commitment to responsible sourcing. Furthermore, our sustainability initiatives extend into our daily operations. From waste minimisation to the incorporation of eco-friendly practices within our workspace, we proactively endeavour to curtail our environmental impact. This unwavering commitment reverberates throughout every facet of our enterprise, underscoring our deep respect for the planet.

Double keystone handmade cuff with reclaimed gold. By Shahla Karimi

Renowned for your bespoke commissions, could you outline the challenges and delightful moments that arise when collaborating with clients during the design phase? 

I always say that the best candidate for a custom piece is someone who knows exactly what they’d like, but just hasn’t found it yet. Staying true to this sentiment, whether our clients lean towards personalising an existing style or creating a one-of-a-kind piece is what guides our approach to bespoke commissions. The collaborative experience of working alongside our clients and shaping these custom pieces is an essential aspect. It’s this partnership that brings out the uniqueness of each creation, resulting in pieces that truly embody their individuality.

The Zaha Hadid wrap ring set with a pear-cut diamond. By Shahla Karimi

Your proficiency as a horticulturalist is an intriguing facet of your identity. How does this passion influence your creative process and moments of inspiration? 

This segment of my biography serves as a playful quip –though I must admit, tending to the plants is a genuine commitment. Its purpose is to vividly portray that the entrepreneurial journey lacks glamour; rather, it’s about donning numerous hats and embracing a “no task is beneath me” ethos.

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