Durban jeweller shines in Europe

Vijay Shah and his son Nihal in the Durban North Vijay Shah Concepts workshop. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD/ Independent Newspapers

Vijay Shah and his son Nihal in the Durban North Vijay Shah Concepts workshop. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 27, 2024


Durban — The work of a Durban designer has been on show at Europe’s oldest and most prestigious jewellery expos, in Vicenza, Italy, over the past week.

Vijay Shah’s collection, titled “Afri-Talian” was on display at Vicenzaoro January – an annual jewellery boutique show which celebrates decades of Italian and international jewellery.

Shah, the founder of Durban North-based Vijay Shah Concepts, said his design technique and colour scheme for the collection were inspired by, among other ideas, South Africa’s Ndebele print which gave his pieces a cosmopolitan or “Afri-Italian” flare.

“My inspiration was also derived from stained glass and Murano glass which is renowned in jewellery, glassware, ornaments and the windows of many churches and museums in and around Italy,” he said.

One side of the reversible earrings and pendants designed by Durban jeweller Vijay Shah, which went on show at one of Europe’s most prestigious jewellery expos last week. Shah also designed a brooch as part of his brief. | Supplied

Shah’s Afri-Talian show collection consists of reversible tear-drop earrings, with a different colour palette.

This year at least 1 300 exhibiting brands from 37 countries were present at the event, which opens the global gold and jewellery trade show calendar. Manufacturers and lovers of high-end jewellery and watches as well as hundreds of buyers from across the globe attend the event.

Vicenzaoro January’s website says the show “gathers together the top brands of high-end jewellery with new collections, gold jewellery with the best of Made in Italy production from the main national manufacturing districts as well as international excellence”.

For Shah, being selected to exhibit in Italy is the kind of recognition and prestige most jewellers dream about. He wasn’t concerned about whether the collection would sell – just being on display, and having made it there is in itself a huge achievement.

It started last year, when he was one of six jewellers in the country selected to design a range of jewellery from an enamel product from Austria, and the winner would have the privilege of exhibiting in Italy. The judging was held at Jewellex Africa, the international trade fair of the South African jewellery industry.

“The best part of that competition is we got all the jewellers to judge these pieces. Our peers actually judged our pieces and that’s amazing because they are really critical. A jeweller is a type of person that will take out an eye glass to find a fault,” he said.

The zebra-inspired brooch designed by Durban jeweller Vijay Shah for his Afri-Talian collection which has been on show in Italy. | Supplied

Vijay Shah Concepts garnered the most votes which, he said, was, “very special” because the jewellers were judged by their peers.

Shah said the earrings designed for the collection were reversible. Normally people wear earrings that “only have one side” but this set had back and front designs with a variety of colour in the front and also in the back.

“That was my cup of tea. I love colour and then we had to incorporate it. In one of my trips to Italy I was fascinated with Murano glass and I saw the process and I loved it, and my inspiration came from there.”

He said apart from colour, the brief was open to interpretation and designers had the freedom to create what they wanted to. A brooch which was part of the collection was inspired by the zebra, and the designs were more than jewellery: it was creating “pieces of art”.

Last year Shah and his son and business partner, Nihal, were also placed in the top five professional category in the prestigious Plat Africa 2023 competition for their platinum capsule collection titled “Kairos – An opportune moment”. That collection went on display in the US.

Independent on Saturday