If there’s any man we trust with our imaginary diamonds, it’s Waris Ahluwalia. The Indian-American designer instill his pieces with romance, history, and perhaps most importantly, the kind of glamour you only thought feasible in a land of milk and honey.
This past spring, Ahluwalia globe-trotted with Forevermark to Southern Africa to learn firsthand how the diamond purveyor unearths and refines its precious gems. He spent his journey traveling along the newly-minted De Beers (who owns Forevermark) Diamond Route, studying its rich and environmental history. Ahluwalia also took great solace in learning how the ethical diamond business provided healthcare, conservation, as well as roads and electricity for what’s becoming the fastest growing middle class in Africa.
The enlightening trip led to a collaboration between Forevermark and House of Waris, which brought to fruition urbane designs spangled in ethically-sourced diamonds. We caught up with Ahluwalia to get better acquainted with his time in South Africa, his old world approach to designing jewelry, and day-to-night diamonds.
Could you tell us about your journey through South Africa to help create the collection?
The journey began at the Kimberly mine. The very first mine in South Africa, where just a few kilometers away a diamond was discovered in the mid-1800s. The purpose of the trip was more than just to create the collection. It was to go to the source, to the origin of my materials. To see for myself where diamonds come from and understand the process unique to Forevermark diamonds. To see how this process affects the community and the natural habitats that surround it. Beyond the mines, we visited the Malenkwana Primary School in a rural community supported by the De Beers group Venetia Mine. We met with the Ministry of Health in Botswana to learn how the new sorting, cutting, and polishing jobs have helped create the fastest growing middle class in Africa. We went to the Tswalu Game Reserve in the vast Kalahari to learn about conservation efforts funded by the De Beers group and Forevermark. Of course seeing the great White Rhino may have been inspiring to the collection, but also my soul.
How did you learn your old world techniques?
My education began in Rome. It was there I found my first workshop on a little cobblestone street off of Via Giulia. It was in Rome, a land of ancient kingdoms, where I first got to sit with a goldsmith and discuss the possibilities of gold and diamonds. It was walking on these streets, I could feel the presence of long ago empires. My next stop was to be India, a magical land of golden civilizations. You see where I’m going with this. It was here with craftsmen that had learned from their fathers, who had learned from their fathers that I fell in love with the idea of things made by hand. Centuries of knowledge — tradition, patience and passion — at my fingertips. I sat with my goldsmiths 6 days a week, 6 months a year for five years to understand my materials. A chance to bring tradition into the modern age. A chance for beauty to survive in an otherwise cold and homogenous world. That is my task. That is my inspiration- love and history. My work revolves on trying to get a better understanding of these two mysteries.
How do you create diamonds that you can wear for the day versus just in the evening?
That’s a trick question, diamonds are for day and night darling. They look just as beautiful in sunlight as they do by candle light. Each piece for me is part of a story, and I leave it to the ladies to decide what time of day they want to share that story.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
How could I possibly pick a favorite? I suggest the whole thing as a set so you never have to choose.
With his last suggestion as your opening thought, feast your eyes on the arresting designs in the House of Waris for Forevermark lookbook, below:
this is some kind of spaceship or something.