Shamballa Jewels was founded by brothers Mads and Mikkel Kornerup. Mads designed the Shamballa bracelet, which comprises diamond and gold beads strung together by the ancient macramé (knotting) technique. STYLE caught up with Mads Kornerup and talked to him about how he has revived the macramé in jewellery-making.
Q: Among all the traditional techniques, why did you choose the macramé?
A: As most things happened with Shamballa Jewels, everything has been coincidental from the beginning. I was meant to be a fashion photographer back in 1991 to 1992, and I got into the jewellery [world] by styling my photo shoots with jewellery. [I am] very interested in ethnic jewellery – African, Indian and Tibetan. With Tibetan jewellery, I was inspired by the old corals, old turquoises, old amber and the beautiful pearl beads. I was fascinated by the calmness that the [jewellery] brings. Most of my designs were kind of based on that feeling. It was quite coincidental that I was playing around with the macramé technique and different ways of using it.
Q: What new technologies have you incorporated into your work?
A: Over the last 10 years, I’ve been very fascinated with the mechanisms from the watches world. I’ve been going to the Baselworld for the last 10 to 12 years. I’ve seen how the watch business and the jewellery business are kind of merging. The watch becomes a piece of jewellery. In that sense, I try to embrace some of the mechanisms from the watch industry.
Our new bracelet Nyima, meaning “sun”, incorporates a pavé ball that has a very fine opening mechanism. The beautiful thing is that you can exchange the ball on top of the bracelet. That’s what I like about jewellery – keeping it transformable. You can change the colour of the thread, and the combination of the beads. So the challenge was to create a lock system that is more mechanical [and] matches the signature of the collection – the ball with the round ring and the star symbol. This is the second generation of the lock. The third generation has a small, powerful magnet and a special locking mechanism. Just working on a tiny mechanism took three years.
A: I made a bracelet for two of my friends. Instead of the wedding rings, they used Shambala’s wedding bracelets with each other’s names on them. In 2005, I put my first full pave diamond ball on the bride’s bracelet and [women really liked it]. Before that, I really mainly designed for myself – I am my own muse. I design pieces that I would like to wear.
Q: Why did you make a prayer beads-inspired bracelet for Jay Z?
A: Right after 9/11 when I had no business, my friend brought Jay-Z to my store. He wanted a beautiful bracelet that’s not all diamonds – he wanted it to have a zen look. Sophia practises yoga, and Jay-Z wanted a meditative look. I showed him my beads and suggested to use them for a bracelet and do some symbols with gold beads. I asked what meant something to him and he said it was his Rocawear company. So I put together his initials SC for Shawn Carter, the logo for Rocawear – RW, his star sign, and two gold balls with half-carat diamonds to make the bracelet. But Jay-Z wanted more than just a bead bracelet. So i played around with gold and diamond beads using the macramé technique, and he loved it.
Q: How would you define Shamballa in one sentence?
A: To explore. Shamballa jewellery explores limitless possibilities of combining the bracelets. We also make customised jewellery. Clients should explore and look for something that has special meaning to them.
Q: How do you see the growing Chinese luxury market?
A: I think it’s in an awakening process. We are [promoting] Shamballa Jewels in the Asian market. Every month, we have some very important Asians investing in our designs. Somehow Shamaballa’s jewellery is a fusion between Asian and Nordic influence more than anything else. [Some of it] is meant and made for Asians.