Founded in 2005, by Mads & Mikkel Kornerup, SHAMBALLA JEWELS has been on a mission to ‘shamballize’ the world ever since with their bespoke designs that revolutionise men’s jewellery.
After falling in love with gemstones during their time travelling and exploring the worlds’ fascinating array of cultures, the Kornerups were filled with a desire to do things differently and encourage change within the established jewellery industry.
With ancient Eastern philosophies at the core, the brothers have married these traditions with expert Nordic design and craftsmanship to create unique pieces that stand the test of time. Having so far succeeded in challenging the way we view luxury ornaments, FOUR catches up with the enigmatic brothers to find out more about the brand…
Where does your passion for jewellery stem from?
Mads Kornerup: When I was 19 years old, I went on my first big trip to Brazil and it was there that I became captivated by the beauty of gemstones and I never lost it. A few years later, I moved to New York to work as a fashion photography assistant and I then discovered the kind of jewellery I would love to wear myself. It happened by chance, actually, as I was working on my portfolio and playing around with Indian hand braided silver jewellery on a nude model that I realised that I wanted to create my own. My love for jewellery design came very naturally thereafter, bringing me on a year-long journey that culminated with the creation of SHAMBALLA JEWELS.
Mikkel Kornerup: As people who have never shied away from wearing jewellery, Mads and I have shared this vision and idea from the beginning. We believed that if we liked wearing it so much, it had to be possible to get more men on that same wave-length. My background is in IT, so although jewellery design was never really part of the plan, it did allow me to add useful skills such as problem solving and product development into the building of the business.
What are some of the company’s core philosophies, principles and goals?
Mads: The inspiration for Shamballa’s logo was taken from the sacred Tibetan double vajra symbol. This ancient Eastern mythical symbol represents the four virtues of joy, love, compassion, and wisdom, and we have adopted these as our company’s driving force. These are four things we try to remind ourselves and our community because ultimately they are the fundamental things of importance in this life.
Love because everything comes from you and you can make a difference. Joy: be aware that Joy is not a thing, it is innate. Compassion because when you are generous, you make good impressions in your mind and then you will begin to experience the world in a more pleasant way. We can be generous by giving gifts, but also by taking the time to talk to people, listen to them and help them. And wisdom because we all know there will be frustrations in life. The question is not: how can I escape? But, how can I use this as something positive?We hope that our jewellery serves as a constant reminder of these things and can act as a compass for the future.
Mikkel: Both of us have practised yoga for a long time and this was probably where our curiosity for ‘accessories’ started. The way people used prayer beads, bells, chanting and meditation in order to explore their inner self and remind themselves to be in the moment. So, you could say, SHAMBALLA JEWELS was born out of a combination of inspiration and curiosity – among others, from the Far East. We want to remind people to stop, breathe and find balance – to remember your values in life. Our jewels offer luxury beyond materialism – they help people reconnect with themselves and the world around them.
Who were the designs originally aimed at?
Mads: I think at the beginning I was naturally making jewellery mainly for men because I was making jewellery that I would want to wear. However, although men’s jewellery is still my main focus, we have adapted some of the designs to give them a more feminine feel. For example, some are smaller or more delicate, and adding a white diamond pave ball really went down a storm.
Mikkel: Our whole vision is to create fine jewellery that is more than just precious materials, and, initially this redefinition of simple luxury was aimed at the modern man. Although men traditionally wore jewellery as a testament to their beliefs and achievements, in recent years this idea has been replaced by more material goods such as a fine suit or an expensive timepiece. Our aim has been to combine these two notions to create an accessory that is both luxurious and meaningful.
Where did/do you get your inspiration from?
Both: Naturally, given the whole philosophy behind the brand, a lot of our inspiration for the designs comes from the Far East. We love the colours, traditions and aesthetics that characterises that part of the world. We then combine it with the fascinating Nordic design traditions of our ancestors such as quality and craftsmanship, but also their eye for functionality – three keywords that have been important cornerstones of SHAMBALLA JEWELS from the beginning.
What is it like working so closely as brothers?
Both: We are lucky as we come from a close family, so have always had a very strong bond and building this brand together has just strengthened it.
That said, running a business can be testing for any relationship and, naturally, we have had our ups and downs after working together for so many years. We are very different, which has often been where we clash, however, in many ways, our differences are also our main strength.
What makes SHAMBALLA JEWELS so special, in your opinion?
Both: The whole collection is great because it fuses casual, understated looking jewellery with precious materials such as diamonds, gemstones and 18k gold in a completely unexpected way. People were and are looking for this casual form of luxury, so our signature SHAMBALLA® Bracelet came at the exact right time. Having now expanded the repertoire to include necklaces, earrings, rings and cufflinks, every piece of jewellery is made in 18K gold with diamonds and gemstones, which can be customised as the collector wishes, and can be worn as a relaxed day time piece or transition into evening wear or special occasions flawlessly.
Can you tell us more about how people can add their own unique mark to your designs?
Mads: With our ‘Creator’ tool, we give people the opportunity to customise their design in order to tell their story or reveal a small part of their unique personality. Every piece of jewellery within the SHAMBALLA JEWELS universe can be customised bead-for-bead allowing collectors the freedom to add their own layers of meaning to the piece of jewellery they are creating. Maybe they are fascinated by the story behind our Om Mani Padme Hum pendant or they just want a certain gemstone to symbolise a specific achievement. There are endless opportunities that are all united by the overall vision; to create a piece of jewellery that goes beyond the material level.
Mikkel: From the beginning, I think it has been important to show the modern man that fine jewellery does not necessarily have to be reductive in order to be valuable or over the top to be masculine. People can choose how they want to characterise their personality in the exact way they want to, either through different gems or icons, symbols or colours.
Where is your jewellery made?Both: At our flagship store in Copenhagen, we are lucky enough to braid, polish and quality-check every braided creation. The production and office are united as one giving us flexibility as well as impeccable quality control over our products. We have also worked very closely with a team of highly skilled artisans for years, who know the brand and our standards inside out.
What have been some of the most memorable highlights for the business so far?
Both: The business has evolved so much since we started that there have been constant highlights and lowlights along the way. It’s difficult to pick from them all, as they each taught us something. That said, opening our flagship stores in Copenhagen and New York are definitely two of our proudest moments. It is also quite a special memory to have seen Karl Lagerfeld wearing our iconic SHAMBALLA® Bracelet at one of his shows. He was wearing full Columbian emeralds and it was a truly unforgettable feeling to know that we put colours on Karl!
Where can people buy SHAMBALLA JEWELS?
Both: SHAMBALLA JEWELS can be bought in person in our flagship stores in Copenhagen and New York, as well as from a list of trusted retailers that can be found here. You can also find all our latest designs on our web-shop at www.shamballajewels.com