Art has long been central to the creative process in jewellery designing. And Studio Renn takes this inexorable union to the next level by referencing storytelling and imaginative perceptions to create distinct jewels that are boundary-breaking in their design concepts. Their approach is purpose-built for today’s cross-cultural environment, a terrain in which concept and luxury, tangible and intangible, product and notion coexist as a whole
By: Niyoshi Shah
Posted on: October 27, 2021
In a bid to revolutionise the industry, the Bombay based avant-garde, fine jewellery brand Studio Renn was conceived in 2018 by founders Rahul Jhaveri and wife Roshni Jhaveri. ‘Renn’ signifies rebirth, and every aspect of the brand denotes towards a renascence. The atelier explores concepts and experiences, reimagining abstract ideas and feelings into concrete form through their designs. At the heart of each creation sits unique intent, imaginative storytelling and a material-agnostic approach.
At Studio Renn, shadows, air gaps, volume and textures are used to lend life to design. Diamonds, precious stones, gold and concrete merge and contrast to explore infinite possibilities.
Having showcased in multi-disciplinary formats in Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, they are leading the Indian narrative for contemporary design globally, with a much-anticipated international showcase at the Couture Show in Las Vegas and subsequently at the prestigious GemGenève tradeshow in Geneva. Studio Renn is invited to showcase within the special curation by jewelry historian and leading authority, Vivienne Becker, at the coveted Designer Vivarium at GemGenève as well. Thanks to the Vivarium area, the tradeshow has fast become a place to discover the future of jewellery design and its key players, a huge achievement for the three year old Atelier.
"This ideology stems from the need to challenge dogma – to break symmetry, experiment with materials and textures, make something that exists in the fine line between beautiful and ugly. It’s all about being in an uncomfortable space where a work could go either way."
Ahead of GemGeneve, we spoke to the illustrious creators to learn more about their fascinating work and designs.
Niyoshi Shah: Please run us through the process of commissioning work with Studio Renn. The uniqueness of this experience and what prompted the process?
Rahul Jhaveri: Our commissioned work is very collaborative in nature. For that it is very crucial to have trust in one another, faith in the process and open lines of communication. The intention is to make something unique – that could only be made for the collector and could only be made by us. The process always starts with a conversation about anything and everything other than jewelry. It is from those conversations that we get something meaningful to inspire us. Our creative process is also very fluid, so nothing is ever predefined or pre-destined.
NS: Your ideology of creating pieces that are "beautifully imperfect and always a bit off-centre” is unique and unconventional – what prompted its inception?
RJ: This ideology stems from the need to challenge dogma – to break symmetry, experiment with materials and textures, make something that exists in the fine line between beautiful and ugly. It’s all about being in an uncomfortable space where a work could go either way.
NS: Artistic and imaginative jewellery is an evolving market in India, how has the global response been, and how do you see your clientele in India adapting to this concept?
RJ: Over the past decade, market definitions have moved beyond geographic boundaries and have become more psychographic. It does not matter whether our collector is from New York or Bombay. They are all drawn to meaningful and unique work, are responsive to conceptual designs, and approach jewellery as something other than just that.
NS: 80% worth of fine jewellery sold annually remains unbranded, bought at a range of national retailers, mid-sized single-branch enterprises and small mom-and-pop stores. Some industry observers have projected that fine jewellery is set for a branding revolution - what are your thoughts on this?
RJ: I am not in a position to comment on branded jewellery because that is not a space we are in. We approach jewellery design as a medium of expression. Our work speaks and stands for who we are and what we do. As people's tastes evolve, more and more people will be drawn to thoughtful and unique jewellery.
"I am always drawn to antique gemstones because they are very hard to come by (quite often because the mines are now defunct) – and there was a certain flair with which they were cut by the talent that simply doesn’t exist anymore."
NS: How do you find a balance between commercial and creative?
RJ: The best way to balance them is not to distinguish one from the other. Works should be conceptual and take our creative process/exploration forward while also being practical and wearable. Intent and purpose is what we believe sets us apart. If a work has no reason to exist, we simply do not make it.
NS: Please tell us about unique, noteworthy pieces created for clients where you have been able to push the envelope and create something distinctive and one-of-a-kind
RJ: We recently made a pair of exceptional emerald tops set in a bed of special-cut, no-heat Burmese sapphire cabochons. We wanted to give emeralds a more contemporary context – that can be worn just as effortlessly on jeans as an evening out. Rather than highlighting the emeralds, we wanted to subvert them and have them become part of the design. The sapphire cabochons were special cut and meant to look like they are oozing off the surface. With this work – the collector had faith in us and the process and we had the freedom to experiment without knowing what would come off it.
"We make works which build on our narrative and study. And that is what draws our collectors to us."
NS: High jewellery brands are increasingly obsessed with headline-making giant stones. Are buying these precious gems, with prices as outsized as their physical volume, worth it?
RJ: Much like collecting anything rare and beautiful – the intrinsic value is in how we perceive it and the context in which it was collected. Significant, rare and important gemstones will always have value for that very reason. I am always drawn to antique gemstones because they are very hard to come by (quite often because the mines are now defunct) – and there was a certain flair with which they were cut by the talent that simply doesn’t exist anymore. That is what I see value in.
NS: How has the pandemic influenced purchase behavior in the luxury jewellery segment? What were the challenges that you had to circumnavigate as a young brand at the cusp of recognition?
RJ: The pandemic fast-tracked changes which were already taking place. People have begun to focus more on quality rather than quantity. They want to collect works which speak to them, who they are, and come from a deeply personal space. A lot of introductions and commissioned work has been done entirely over Zoom/WhatsApp without physically meeting collectors. But technology is just a tool and makes communication easier and more seamless. Nothing works as well as word-of-mouth does, neither do the virtual interactions and viewings replace the physical meetings and experiencing these tactile works.
As long as you stay true to yourself and your work – everything else will just fall into place. We make works which build on our narrative and study. And that is what draws our collectors to us.
Moving beyond just headline-making giant stones, Studio Renn creates a refreshing diversion with its exceptional concepts and truly unique designs. Creation, originality, audacity and craftsmanship are fundamentally the main triggers for a high-jewellery purchase - something the young atelier has tenaciously achieved in a short span of time.