Meet VAK, The Artisanal Jeweller Fusing Vintage Cuts With A Modern Aesthetic

VAK brings together traditional foundations, a modern aesthetic, and its founder Vishal Kothari’s sculptural vision

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When it comes to creating jewellery, VAK founder and designer Vishal Kothari isn’t in a hurry to manufacture as many pieces as possible. “I believe in slow luxury, and creating high artisanal handcrafted jewellery, with rare gemstones handpicked by me,” says the Mumbai-based independent jeweller, who keeps to a production of about 120 one-of-a-kind high jewellery pieces each year.

Vishal Kothari

But the limited output is not to be sniffed at. Since it was established in 2015 (deriving its name from the initials of Vishal Anil Kothari), the jewellery brand has made a name for itself as one of the country’s most innovative. A third-generation jeweller by training but an artist at heart, Kothari turned traditional jewellery making on its head with self-taught techniques and refreshed inspirations. VAK is known for its prominent use of portrait-cut, rose-cut and other vintage gemstone cuts in unusually shaped diamonds and rare gemstones, such as Burmese spinels, Colombian and Zambian emeralds and multicoloured sapphires. All these set against nearly imperceptible metalwork, so that the gemstones play a starring role, are hallmarks of VAK’s designs.

In particular, the portrait-cut diamonds that VAK sets in its jewels appear to float above the skin because the wide, thin and flat gems are held in place with a fine metal wire around their outline instead of with conventional prong settings. Resembling a small sliver of plate glass, portrait-cut diamonds are named for the way they were used to protect and show off miniature portraits in jewellery. The portrait cut was also a favourite diamond cut of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, and is one of the oldest diamond cuts.

In terms of design, VAK’s creations draw inspiration from nature, art and architecture, particularly architecture in Mumbai. The brand’s collections comprise Arch of Heaven (built upon façade details), Eternal Garden (featuring flowers and vines, and other references to nature), Architectural Splendor (an ode to architectural design motifs and art styles, such as art nouveau, art deco, Gothic art, and Mughal art), and The Portrait (a showcase of the portrait cut).

Indian jewellery brand VAK brings together traditional foundations, a modern aesthetic, and its founder Vishal Kothari’s sculptural vision

In the early days of VAK, Kothari focused on private clients; then in 2020, he opened VAK’s flagship boutique in the Royal Opera House, a historical landmark in central Mumbai that was inaugurated in 1911 by King George V; the boutique was designed to recreate the environment of a grotto and the process of discovering diamonds in a mine. VAK also took up residence in the jewellery salon of Bergdorf Goodman in New York, in October 2022 and again August 2023, and has been featured at international auction houses from Sotheby’s to Phillips.

And now, jewellery by the India Moderne designer will be available through the Singapore-based 33 Auction and its newly established jewellery department, which will hold regular live auctions of curated fine jewellery as well as year-round selling exhibitions (without auction) that feature the works of artisanal jewellery designers, like VAK.

VAK’s official launch in Singapore will take place as part of 33 Auction’s 15th anniversary sale, which spotlights Modern and Contemporary art alongside jewellery. A preview exhibition of all auction items and the VAK collection will be held 27–29 June, followed by the official main exhibition and live auction on 30 June. After that, the VAK collection will be based in Linda Gallery at Paragon Shopping Centre from July to November.

Indian jewellery brand VAK brings together traditional foundations, a modern aesthetic, and its founder Vishal Kothari’s sculptural vision

From a discreet and exclusive jewellery brand to representing “India modern meets rock’n’roll” internationally, VAK looks set to reach more jewellery admirers through 33 Auction and continue Kothari’s vision of jewellery that goes further than mere adornment. “Jewellery is a canvas for me to express what I want to say,” he says. “I like to think my pieces are intelligent.”

33 Auction 15th Anniversary Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art and Jewellery
Preview Exhibition: 27–29 June, 10am–8pm 

33 Auction | 39 Keppel Road #04-04, Singapore 089065

Main Event: 30 June, Exhibition: 10am–8pm, Live Auction: 4pm

Pan Pacific Orchard | 10 Claymore Road, Claymore Ballroom, Singapore 229540

VAK Selling Exhibition: July–November 2024, 10am–9pm Daily

Linda Gallery | 290 Orchard Road, #04-45 Paragon, Singapore 238859

Admission is free and all are welcome.

For more information and updates:
Instagram: @33auctionjewels


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