Shakil Ismail’s gems and jewellery designs speak a language of their own. Neatly carved bronze and gold plated pieces with raw jewels placed in the heart of the delicate structure is Ismail’s signature style. A known calligrapher and sculptor in his own right, Ismail exhibited his jewellery collection on Saturday at the Fine Arts Pakistan Gallery.
“This is gold-plated bronze jewellery,” the designer said about his creation. “There is a very technical procedure through which these structures are made.” Ismail uses semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, crystal quartz, tourmaline, agate, jade and amethyst unearthed from across Pakistan (especially from the Peshawar region). The stones are then used in their rawest state to give the jewels a natural appeal.
Intricate designs are second nature to him as the designer has been doing calligraphy for the past 33 years, after having found inspiration in the works of the great Sadequain and Gulgee. But what made him foray into jewellery design? “It all started 14 years ago when I was travelling to the US and my mother made me wear an Imam Zamin for the sake of safety,” he shared. “The beauty of it made me want to design jewellery pieces of my own.”
His passion for jewellery gradually snowballed into a burning desire to connect with people, especially the younger generation. “I hope to bridge the gap between the older and younger generation,” he said. According to Ismail, the older generation is attracted to his calligraphic work but the younger lot is a bit distant from this genre of art. Hence, to have a connection with young people, Ismail forayed into jewellery design and now hopes to attract youngsters with bling. “I want the younger generation to be in connection with their heritage.” For Ismail, his creations are “a means to reach out to the younger crowd”.
Ismail has won numerous accolades as a calligrapher. However, according to him, he received unprecedented appreciation for “Naqash O Tawiz”, his first jewellery exhibition in Ohio. His popularity after his first jewellery exhibition cemented the fact that he is as good at jewellery design as he is at calligraphy and since then, there has been no turning back.
“I keep my options open. Sometimes I do sculptures and sometimes jewellery,” he explained. But when asked which one of his skills has more commercial value, the designer added, “The women love the jewellery collection, the artistic type like sculptures and others like my calligraphic paintings.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.