Jewellery creations that are reflective of nature or undulating landscapes in an abstract way usually evoke a sense of wonder. And to breathe life into these pieces that sway with the movement of the body, one requires a rock-solid background of technical knowledge and an extraordinary aesthetic sensibility that LESHNA SHAH, founder and creative head, of jewellery brand Aurelle by Leshna Shah has in abundance.
A trained jewellery designer and manufacturer, Leshna feels the pulse of fashion like no other. It is to her credit then that the relatively new jewellery brand has made its impact very soon and generated a lot of buzz.
Leshna has made it her mission to craft pieces that are overwhelmingly embodied with curvaceous and sinuous silhouettes and crushed gold textures with a smattering of gemstones and diamonds. Playing with forms is her strength. Her creations magnify a beautiful coming together of parabolas intersecting with ellipses or swirls and arches blending into breathtaking concavity.
BY SHANOO BIJLANI
Tell us about your background. Did you pursue creative hobbies since your childhood?
Born and brought up in Mumbai, I lived in New York for seven years post my marriage and have worked in the jewellery industry for the past 15 years. I have a diploma in Jewellery Design and Manufacturing from SNDT University. Growing up, I loved creative arts like painting, stitching, and crafts… going to a school that promotes creative arts as much as academics definitely helped me explore my interests.
What does Aurelle mean? Your store is very elegantly designed. Were you responsible for the interiors?
Aurelle is Latin for Aurelius, the famous Roman emperor and stoic philosopher. The feminine form of Aurelius is Aurelle and stands for ‘golden, gilded or golden haired’. The name depicts a privileged state of being of the Aurelle audience, and adds a touch of philosophy and history to our jewellery which we see as modern contemporary art. If creating and designing jewellery is my first passion, then homes and interiors is definitely my second. Having lived in New York and moved around multiple homes, I truly enjoy designing bare spaces and giving it a personalised element.
Your jewellery is organic, featuring fluid lines and crumpled textures and diamonds with a mix of avant-garde and couture elements in it. Tell us more about your signature designs.
In terms of design, I like organic shapes, modulated and contoured in abstract forms, with the inclusion of negative spacing, and generally, most of our signature pieces are designed along these lines. I sometimes tend to concentrate more on technical aspects or designs like flexibility, new settings and then form is not the focus. One thing you will find as a common point among all the Aurelle pieces is that they are simple, light, versatile and trendy. And each piece has a ‘wow’ factor.
Where did you study the art of jewellery making and the technical expertise that you incorporate into your highly futuristic pieces?
Doing a diploma in a manufacturing and design course versus only a design course definitely helped me understand about design feasibility a lot more. However, I gained maximum expertise practically while working as a design merchandiser in New York. Catering to jewellery retailers globally really helped me understand how a product is created, designed keeping aesthetic and clients in mind.
When did you move into the world of jewellery? When did you take it up as a full-time career?
I moved into the world of jewellery about 18 years ago post my 12th grade. I always loved accessorising myself with jewellery, and my love for fine jewellery started with gemstones. Studying design and manufacturing helped me grasp the different facets of designing jewellery and converting it from 2D to 3D. I took it as a full-time career soon after I graduated out of design school.
Tell us more about your inspirations. What leads you to making such wonderful and optically attractive pieces? What is your design philosophy?
Inspiration is everywhere. I feel like I am constantly surrounded by it, I just need to seek it. While designing, the theme plays an important role but my aim from start to finish is that each piece is versatile, wearable and has its own unique aesthetics.
We would like to know your process of creation? Do you weave stories into your jewellery pieces or do you just put your thoughts on paper?
There is no method or systemised process for me. I like to keep my mind completely open in order to keep the creative process fluid. Therefore there are multiple ways in which I reach a final theme. Some pieces are inspired by themes from nature, shapes and forms, and others are inspired from raw materials. Sometimes an entire collection comes from market research and trends. So the entire process is very fluid.
How often do you come up with collections? How long does it take you to produce a collection?
We create a new collection every four months, and that makes it about three collections in a year. From design to finish stage it takes about four months to create an entire collection, and currently, we have about five collections in the pipeline with different design themes and inspirations behind each one of them.
Which are your favourite gemstones and which is your preferred metal?
My current favourite gemstones are tanzanites. And my favourite metal is rose gold.
What are your best-selling collections?
Actually, there are many. Raw is my bestselling collection. The inspiration for this line is the material itself. This entire collection is one-of-a-kind as the focal point of these pieces is the sliced diamond. Sliced diamonds are very difficult to source and each stone had its unique characteristic. Stylish Swirls was inspired by movement, fluidity and flexibility. The forms were inspired from origami. Each piece was created after doing a lot of prototypes to reach the final design stage. Two of my collections Snuggled and Constellation of Cuts highlight manufacturing techniques. The setting of the gemstone is the mainstay in each of these pieces. The prêt collection Aurelle Essentials is light, trendy and perfect for daily wear. This collection also has a range that is ideally suited for gifting.
When did you start your brand? Apart from the flagship store in Bandra, Mumbai, do you have other showrooms? Do you have any plans to expand?
We officially moved into the store space in November 2014 and have been based out of Bandra, Mumbai, ever since. We have one flagship store as of now. As part of the long-term expansion plans, we will have Aurelle stores in a couple of more cities and introduce it in international markets as well.