Award winning jewelry designer
Globally recognized and acclaimed artist
Sought after lecturer and professor
Business woman par excellence
Guinness World Record Holder
Reena Ahluwalia is many things to many people...and I am lucky enough to consider her a friend. We first met at Art Basel in Miami, in 2015, where Reena's work was displayed at Art Miami. To say I was in awe is an understatement - both by the art itself, and the fabulous woman behind it. Five years later, our friendship has spanned continents, and it has been a joy to watch as Reena has continued to grow her brand, while remaining true to her core beliefs of humanity above all, quality and perfectionism all the time, every time, and a brand of creativity that is all her own, unique in its style and signature.
There are many of Reena's achievements that stand out to me, in relation to both her art, and her jewelry design achievements. The fact is that Reena designs and creates masterpieces, many of which are created for private collectors which we the public will never see, and others which we will see, but for confidentiality reasons, we will never know that Reena is the genius behind the pieces. Two of my favorite designs that have bought Reena public acclaim and recognition are the 'Canoe' Canadian Diamond Necklace and the Forevermark "Eternal Diamond Necklace" .
'Canoe' Canadian Diamond Necklace: This magnificent 28.96 carat necklace was the International winner - Canadian Diamonds Master Craftsman Award. Rio Tinto Diamonds Global Design Competition 2011-2012. 'Canoe' necklace is inspired by the poetic image of a magical Canadian landscape and its pristine white winters. Snow covered Canoe in a frozen, crystalline lake. Reena: ''Celebrating the magic and beauty of Canada, my home, is the inspiration for my design. Canoe is carrier of Canadian myths, a symbol very unique to Canada that represents voyage, harmony with nature, discovery and courage. It is one of the greatest gifts the First Nations people gave to all those who came after. A crystalline perspective, this necklace hopes to capture the luminous magic of the True North.”
Forevermark 'Eternal' Diamond Necklace: 85-carat 'Eternal' necklace, crafted for Forevermark select jeweler Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers (Est.1900) Reena: "The necklace is inspired by the promise of eternal love. The continuous form of the necklace comes together in an unbroken knot as it's central focus. The knot symbolizes a lover's promise of never-ending love and trust. The collar consists of star motifs in the sky representing eternity. The five cascading elements below the knot are the five building blocks of the universe - earth, fire, sky, water and air. The design celebrates the promise of love that stays forever."
After all these years of knowing Reena, it was time for me to take a deeper dive into the woman behind the name. Enjoy reading Rena's response about her favorite artists, favorite way to relax, her views on the jewelry industry today, and so much more!
TDG: Favorite piece of jewelry that you have designed?
RA: So difficult to choose one.
TDG: Favorite diamond shape?
RA: I love step cuts.
TDG: Are you happier painting or designing?
RA: Both, as they let me push my creative boundaries.
TDG: Most inspirational place on the planet?
RA: One's mind
TDG: Strangest request for a custom design piece of jewelry ever received?
RA: An elaborate body ornament from head to toe for a royalty in Middle East. It was fabulous.
TDG: The artist you most admire?
RA: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Santiago Calatrava Valls
TDG: The jeweler you most admire?
RA: So many great ones, very difficult to pick just one.
TDG: Proudest achievement/moment?
RA: Fortunate to have a few that I would like to mention. All these are close to my heart. (1) Receiving an honorary degree and an Institute without Boundaries (IwB) Fellow Award given by George Brown College (Toronto, Canada) for leaving an indelible mark on industry, community and for contributions to jewelry study and for being an exceptional role model for the students. (2) Designing a historic diamond collection with Rio Tinto, with first diamonds found in India, 100 years after the famous Golconda mines depleted. (3) Designed a historic piece for Ontario Legislature with First diamonds from Ontario, Canada, with De Beers Canada. (4) Honored to have my diamond jewel on a special-edition Belgian postage stamp, making it a handful few from a living artist in the world of diamonds and jewelry.
TDG: Best way to relax?
RA: Being in nature.
TDG: Dream holiday destination?
RA: Atacama desert keeps calling me back.
TDG:Designer, Artist, Professor, Humanitarian....its a long list of impressive accomplishments! How do you balance it out, prioritize your time, and maintain a quality of life that's meaningful to you?
RA: I struggle with it. It's never easy when you have a small company like mine. My work hours are very long, and I work super aggressively, non-stop for months. My way to achieve balance is to step out of my work zone and go to quiet places to reboot myself. It's only when you step out that you can step back in with fresh vision and resolve. I mentor students and work with charities like Jewelers For Children, it motivation me, to make a tangible impact that matters. I lucked out with how close-knit my family is, a constant source of my happiness and peace.
TDG:Tell us about your partnership and collaboration with Aaron Shum - the motivation behind it, the concept, future plans?
RA: Both Aaron Shum and I are known in the jewelry industry for our technical innovations, so it was great to form a partnership to combine our ideas and come up with collections together. We both are at a stage in our careers where we like to work with folks who can push our thinking and creative boundaries. At present we have three collections: (1) Coronet By Reena - a mesmerizing spinning diamond and gemstones set jewelry collection with a world wide patented setting. My signature design element in the collection is a 'pointer' that points to the true center of our being - our inner brilliance. A constant reminder to stay connected to what's most valuable to us; our goals, milestones, family and values. (2) Alyssum by Reena - it uses my signature motif, a quatrefoil with star at its center. A timeless classic, inspired by fragrant Alyssum flower. Four petals in my collection represent love, passion, dreams and hope. (3) A diamond watch collection under development: The collection is already 1.5 years in development. It's truly coveted and unique, as the watch dial features my hyperrealistic diamond paintings. We hope to release it formally by next year.
TDG: What is your view on the jewelry industry today?
RA: Significance of jewelry in our human history is undoubtable. There are many challenges today, including change in our consumer values, shaped by factors such as technology, automation, artificial intelligence, climate change, shared economy, etc. We in the jewelry industry need to reflect on how to stay relevant. At the same time, I want to stress that till there is humanity, there will always be a desire to adorn oneself.
TDG: What works, what needs to be improved upon?
RA: What works for the jewelry industry is the diversity of design, strength of craftsmanship, knowledge of materials, well established supply chains. Ultimately it's the strength of its people, many of whom have invested generations in this industry.
We need to refocus on the metaphoric qualities of diamonds. Support people and communities to be co-creators and collaborators. With that learning can we shape the diamond conversations of tomorrow? I believe today we need an outside-in thinking. By curating end-user collective intelligence across different disciplines and mediums, we may generate conversations around jewelry to make people gain a new vision of how we want to tell jewelry stories of the future. This will help engage people in new ways. I believe those that evolve with the real shift of values in today's world will thrive. Evolution, then, is what our industry needs.
From Hong Kong to Miami, Reena and I have crossed paths along the way as we both pursue the worlds finest jewels. It's always a joy to meet with Reena and hear all about her newest endeavors. Recently Reena was commissioned by Mouawad to paint a 105 carat fancy vivid yellow rough diamond. As always, the result is breathtaking as Reena continues to weave her magic throughout the jewelry and art worlds.