Spanish Indian gemologist Anil Arjandas has been designing since he was a teenager and running his high jewelry brand for more than 20 years at the forefront of innovation and creativity - the Maison is still going against the grain pursuing Anil’s unique vision and style, and using daring new materials for his devoted clients. The Kurator spoke catering to clients who are drawn to his unique pieces rather than the trendy.
You started designing jewelry when you were still a teenager - what were your influences and how did it all begin?
Pretty much everything started as a hobby. I had a keen interest in jewelry and I found myself profoundly immersed in the watch industry. I was constantly on the hunt for bracelets that would perfectly match my watch.
However, I felt that everything I came across was either too traditional or overly commercialised. That's when I decided to design a piece for myself. Transitioning from a simple sketch to the final product took me several months. This piece caught the eyes of many on its very first day on my wrist. Though I hadn't intended to start selling, the demand that erupted the first day led to multiple orders.
The sales success within a few weeks made me realize an opportunity for a small collection. That's how Anil Arjandas Jewels was created.
What are your ultimate dos and don’ts when it comes to the ‘wristgame’?
The 'wristgame' is a concept that I created where bracelets are styled together with a watch. It's an intricate concept, as it could easily look tacky and even lead to scratches on your watch. Hence, the do's and don'ts in creating a beautiful look.
It boils down to understanding proportions, size, and materials. We even curated a series, the "protecting rivière," that comes with rubber sides to protect your watch from scratches.
You’ve been long established now in Hollywood with a huge list of celebrity clients including Halle Berry, Pink, Elizabeth Banks, Queen Latifah, Leslie Mann, Melissa McCarthy… Can you tell us about some of your favourite celebrities you’ve worked with and why?
Choosing favorites can be quite hard, especially because I've formed close friendships with several of them. Celebrities like J Balvin and Maluma wearing my pieces certainly brought me immense pleasure. However, a unique story that I hold dear involves Kelly Rutherford. In my early-days of establishing the brand, seeing Kelly flaunt my jewelry pieces was a big deal to me. I was deeply touched, given that I've always been a huge fan of her work in the TV show Gossip Girl.
What are the biggest trends you see in the world of high end jewelry in the near future, say the next five years?
Well, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of only sticking to the trends in jewelry. My initial journey in the jewelry world came at a time when white gold was the thing and it was predicted to set the trends for the next few years. Everyone was more accustomed to yellow gold, so white gold was seen as something refreshing and innovative.
However, I decided to set out on my own path and didn't follow this trend. I went ahead and launched my first collections exclusively in black - black gold, black diamonds - a concept that was practically unheard of in the jewelry industry at that time. It was so different that it took nearly a decade to become a significant trend. By the time it made major waves in the market, I had already retained a few popular collections but also branched out into new areas. One of them was a natural rainbow sapphire concept I introduced, which later turned into a trend itself. Therefore, innovation is a strong pillar of our brand. We always strive to stay ahead of the curve, to anticipate and even instigate the "new" in the industry.
How are you innovating with new and exclusive materials and designs to stay fresh?
Using different, innovative materials has always been my way to add a unique twist to my designs. Starting off with the unconventional black - be it diamonds, gold or silver - set the tone for our venture from the beginning. We even came up with a new treatment to oxidize silver that resulted in a unique shade of black. Additionally, to diversify the textures and aesthetics in our creations, we mixed these with materials like leather, pearls, and cords.
Since then, we've consistently introduced new materials, many of which weren't traditionally associated with jewelry. For instance, we've integrated components such as sapphire glass and TPTc carbon - the most complex and resilient form of carbon into our collections.
Currently, we're experimenting with an exclusive range of coloured ceramics and fresh treatments for gold. We believe that material innovation is one of our key distinguishing factors, helping us redefine the conventions of jewelry design.
What makes customers in the Middle East unique in your industry and how do you cater to differing tastes regionally?
Our niche is in creating designs that spark surprise and delight - true conversation starters. This approach resonates with distinct clients who want something differentiated from typical luxury jewellery. We don't specifically tailor our collections regionally because our pieces seem to strike a universal chord among aficionados of distinctive design. Dubai has been a phenomenal hub for us, even prior to the opening of our boutique there, as it serves as a global intersection for both travellers and trendsetters.
Can we expect any unique or special edition collections coming up soon from Anil Arjandas?
Absolutely! We're always innovating, releasing almost 200 fresh designs yearly. Some of our creations are singular pieces that don't even hit the website or get photographed. They are, quite literally, unique! Our brand thrives on freeing our customers' expectations by introducing remarkable collections continually.
You have over a million followers on Instagram - how do you like to interact with your fans and what do you particularly enjoy about social media?
Until Instagram, I was never much into social media. But this platform allowed me a direct, authentic way to communicate with our fans, beyond formal product photos. We use Instagram to give a glimpse of real-life, day-to-day style, showing our audience how various styles can come to life. The secret to our social media success lies in letting followers see how to mix, match and wear our pieces. Instagram has wonderfully helped us to display this.
Do you foresee AI helping with innovation in jewelry design and manufacture and what other technological advances are you keeping an eye on?
I'm a huge tech enthusiast, and while I find AI to be amazingly useful, I'm not entirely sure how it will blend into the realm of design. Often, the perfect piece of jewelry emerges from an imperfection. I've been a designer for more than twenty years and still cling to my trusty pen and paper. When translating a design into 3D, I instruct my team to retain the quirks and idiosyncrasies from the original sketch. All pieces of jewelry need to possess a certain soul, an essence which makes them unique. In my perspective, achieving this soul could prove to be challenging with AI alone. It's somewhat tricky to encapsulate this sentiment, but perfection in design often needs that ineffable element which makes it unique, and I believe this might elude AI design tools.