If there is one piece of jewellery that will always be identified with Shamballa Jewels, it is its iconic beaded macramé Shamballa bracelets. Made of 18-karat gold and 10mm beads of coloured gemstones, gold and diamond pavés, the bracelets are among the must-have jewels of A-list celebrities, from movie stars and music moguls to fashion legends.
Designed by Mads Kornerup in 2001, the Shamballa bracelet, which drew inspiration from Buddhist prayer beads, has “become more than a jewellery phenomenon.”
“It brought about a zeitgeist that encouraged people to find meaning in the jewellery they wear, and that was exactly what he had set out to do – to create jewellery whose value lies not only in the materials used, but in the very emotions they evoke and represent,” according to the luxury jeweller.
Following the success of the design, Mads and his brother, Mikkel, launched fine jewellery brand, Shamballa Jewels, in 2005, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Named after the mythical Himalayan kingdom of Shamballa, Shamballa Jewels unites Eastern philosophy with Nordic design traditions in its jewellery designs. The brand, which creates jewellery that can be customised bead for bead, is present in more than 30 countries, with a flagship store in Copenhagen.
In an interview with JNA, Mads, the company’s creative director and co-founder, talks about the latest additions to Shamballa Jewels’ exciting repertoire and the brand’s international expansion aspirations.
JNA: What have you been up to?
Mads Kornerup: In our newest collections, I have created colour combinations that embrace the season but also embrace what the rest of fashion is doing so they do correspond with what you are wearing.
Of course, we always maintain our collection with precious stones – rubies emeralds and sapphires – but in the last couple of years, we started getting into brown, grey and yellow sapphires. We keep on discovering new materials that work really well with our jewellery. What I have in my chain are some beautiful opal beads and they just give that spark and that magic to the necklace. We do not reinvent ourselves constantly but we do style, and we are showing colour to accomplish that.
The magic with our beaded macramé Shamballa bracelets is that they can completely change their looks from one season to another just by changing the colour of the rope and by exchanging a couple of beads. It has always been our goal to create jewellery that can transform itself. That’s one of the most unique things Shamballa bracelets can do.
Of course, when we have some great ideas, we add new solid pieces but our core is still the beads. You can get amazing beadings from other jewellery companies but for high-end bespoke precious beadings, it’s only Shamballa.
JNA: Tell us about your plans in New York.
Kornerup: We just signed a lease in a store on Mercer Street in New York. If everything goes on as planned, we will open up on Mercer in October. This shop is actually a gift to our clients. We only have one flagship shop now, and that’s in Copenhagen. We also have a little franchise in Zurich. We want our international clients – there may be close to 20,000 solid Shamballa collectors worldwide, according to our calculations – to get serviced personally without having them come to Denmark. But of course, London and Paris will follow, and we’re going to see what happens in Asia. In Asia, we are waiting patiently to see who’s going to be a good partner.
JNA: Do you see potentially lucrative opportunities for Shamballa Jewels in China?
Kornerup: I think even some of the Chinese cities we don’t even know about – the second-tier cities – are going to be the up-and-coming cities within trends and fashion. I think the Shamballa bracelet might very well be amazing for them.
JNA: When did you have that “I’ve arrived” moment – that moment when you felt you’ve made it?
Kornerup: It happened some years ago. Karl Lagerfeld came out of the couture show of Chanel; he raised his hand and waved. He was wearing a green emerald bracelet by Shamballa Jewels. When the most iconic designer in the world waves his hand and shows he’s wearing your jewellery, that’s one big moment for you.