11 November 2020

Slow luxury: Q&A with VAK Fine Jewels founder and creative director Vishal Kothari

Vishal Kothari is a third-generation high jewellery designer, who takes pleasure in hand-picking each gemstone he works with.

His pieces for VAK Fine Jewels are sculptural and push the boundaries of savoir faire; they could accurately be described as wearable art, with their India Moderne meets rock ‘n’ roll style. (Kothari previously contemplated a career as a sculptor, couturier or musician.) He only makes 100-120 bespoke pieces each year, and each one is totally unique and created by the artisans at the VAK Fine Jewels atelier in Mumbai, which is a stone’s throw from his flagship boutique at the city’s Royal Opera House. It is no wonder that Kothari has been invited to participate in prestigious design shows such as PAD and DJWE, among others, and that his designs have found their way into auctions at Sotheby’s, Phillips and Saffronart. They are also sold at galleries across the world. Kothari sits on the committee of the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts and has been invited to speak at various museums and galleries. He is delighted to now put his name to a project as meaningful and worthwhile as Walk for Giants. Describe your collection in 3 words? Maverick. Surreal. Artisanal. What is your favourite coloured gemstone and why? I have a weakness for all coloured gemstones. But if it had to be one, I think it would be the spinel. Rare, beautiful and underrated, they are often mistaken for rubies. Give me a spinel from Burma in pigeon-blood, pink, purple or grey, and I am ready to rock ‘n roll. I use non-treated spinels from Burma in a kaleidoscope of colours at VAK Fine Jewels. What does having a special piece of jewellery mean to you? Jewellery is art. It is an expression of an artist with a palate of fabulous gemstones. It should be regarded as nothing less. What conservation measures do you undertake? At home in India, we take simple measures to protect our earth. My seven-year-old twin daughters and I focus on water conservation, as there is a great need in India for it. It is so easy if we all do our little bit. Protecting elephants from poachers is a cause truly close to my heart. Across Africa and India, the elephant is revered as a symbol of wisdom and good luck. Designing a piece for this initiative by Space for Giants, has been a labour of love for me, and I am delighted to be part of this awareness campaign. If you could wear one of the pieces from the collaboration, not from your own collection, which would it be? The Sahara Poison Ring by Sandy Leong has my vibe. I adore the story of the unveiling of a hidden rough emerald in a giraffe-like casket ring. Click here to view this exciting capsule collection.
Image Credits: ‘Walk For Giants’, photography by Federico Pestilli, creative direction by Riccardo Ruini, shot on location at Enasoit Game Sanctuary