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Saturday 20th of July 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Ami Doshi Shah, a Jewelry Designer, Reinvents Jewelry in Kenya Using Ropes, Brass, Salt, and Stone.

Posted On : March 20, 2024

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Sisal ropes, old brass, salt crystals, and volcanic pebbles are just a few of the unusual materials that award-winning Kenyan designer Ami Doshi Shah has consistently used to create elegant jewelry that redefines value in a market obsessed with carats. In an interview with AFP on her rooftop studio in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, Shah, 44, said, “As a child, I was always finding beauty in unusual things like stones and fossils.” Shah creates her pieces by hand.

Her 2019 collection Salt of the Earth, which was on display at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, included ropes, salt crystals, and patinated blue-green metal.

Shah claimed that it took her years to devote herself entirely to her vocation, even though she graduated from a university in Birmingham, England, with a degree in jewelry and silversmithing and the coveted Goldsmiths medal for best apprentice designer.

Ami Doshi Shah interned at Indian jewelers like The Gem Palace, whose clients have included Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, and Gwyneth Paltrow. She is a third-generation Kenyan of South Asian descent.
She did not agree with traditional Indian notions of jewels as an opulent investment. Furthermore, she wasn’t quite sure how to reconcile the demands of the commercial world with her experimental sensibility. Shah then started working for an advertising company, where he was based in Nairobi and London for the following twelve years.

She remarked, “I knew it wasn’t my calling.” During her second pregnancy, she took a break and started an artist residency at the nonprofit Kuona Trust in Nairobi for a year in 2014–2015.

Ami Doshi Shah claimed that although it was a cathartic time, it was also “filled with self-doubt.” It is difficult to realize that you might not be a commercial success, especially after spending so much time focused on earning money. I was concerned about whether people would enjoy my work.

Personal and Political
Ami Doshi founded her brand in 2015 with the intention of producing striking, sculptural pieces that honor the talismanic significance of jewelry in Kenyan culture, where it is worn for protection, strength, and at significant life events.
Her collection includes everything from sisal neckpieces to brass earrings that sway with every movement and stone-inlaid cuffs.
Her creations are built to order using materials found in Kenya, marking a dramatic break from the traditional Indian jewelry that is dominated by expensive metals and jewels. She works with materials including leather, mango wood, and zoisite, a byproduct of the nation’s ruby mining in East Africa, in addition to brass, which is the predominant metal used in Kenyan jewelry.

The end product is jewelry that ranges in price from $75 to $375 and is quite personal and occasionally political.

“Not everyone will enjoy or comprehend my work, and that’s okay,” she remarked, emphasizing that she views jewelry-making as “a labor of love” rather than a financial endeavor. Her critically praised 2019 collection examined the contradictory properties of salt—it is a material that is both caustic and life-giving.

It also alluded to Britain’s colonial past, as Shah’s grandparents moved from Gujarat, India, where Mahatma Gandhi led a famous protest march in 1930 in response to harsh salt tariffs. That’s when she stated, “I felt for the first time that jewelry could be political, that it could be a thread connecting so many things.”

Tell Our Own Story
Her most recent collection, Memento Mori, came up as a result of her grief, as she considered her father’s passing in 2021 and their last days spent together in the Kenyan town of Watamu, which is located on the Indian Ocean.

Her concentration is squarely on the continent she calls home, both as the inspiration and the market for her sophisticated creations, which are stocked in shops in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and Kenya, despite the fact that her work is sold and recognized in the West.

After the painful expulsion of South Asians from Uganda in 1972, she urged her fellow South Asians to embrace integration rather than seek safety in self-segregation, saying, “I feel far more Kenyan than Indian.” Her goal is to establish a multidisciplinary studio with “predominantly Kenyan” designers, building on her recent ventures into the furniture industry. “It’s crucial to be able to narrate our own story in our own unique way rather than having one forced upon us.”

Content courtesy of  Kuwait Times & NFH Digital Team

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We encourages all aspiring fashion bloggers not to give up on your dream do what you love, and saying Whats on your mind, “post regularly and don’t give up! The worst thing you can do is have big breaks of not posting—your readers will feel really disappointed, and you’ll lose their attention.”

Fashion Tribe Influencer

We encourages all aspiring fashion bloggers not to give up on your dream do what you love, and saying Whats on your mind, “post regularly and don’t give up! The worst thing you can do is have big breaks of not posting—your readers will feel really disappointed, and you’ll lose their attention.”

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