Kiran Aman doesn’t like being boring. The digitally printed cushions strewn around at the launch of her brand new store say as much:
“Imperfection is beauty; madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
It’s a Marilyn Monroe quote, and although there’s nothing ‘ridiculous’ about the brand new Kiran Fine Jewels store in Karachi’s Ocean Mall, the saying applies quite well to Kiran’s design acumen. There are no typical ‘jhoomar-teekas’ at this store – Kiran doesn’t really pander to bridals although she says that she may do so in the future. Instead, the geometrically aligned, glossy little store boasts a select variety of fashionable jewelry in textured, beaten gold, shaped into geometric patterns, twists and swirls and embedded with startling, vivid precious stones. They’re not your traditional shaadi-wear – a first for Pakistan, where gold jewelry generally tends to be equated with weddings – but these accessories certainly wield red carpet glamour.
And Kiran’s pieces often have turned heads at red carpets: the ‘Barzakh’ pieces in black onyx with a ring of gold running around their circumference or those curled, gilt-edged earrings created out of wood shavings or those balls shaped out of wisps of gold wire. Her jewelry has often been incorporated into showcases at fashion weeks and red carpets: they are glittering, eye-catching statement pieces, accessories du jour for a glamorous night about town.
It’s the exact effect that Kiran aims for. As the publisher of Markings Publishings, she’s always veered towards artistic, unique books – as a jeweler, she’s passionate about translating her distinctive aesthetics into design rather than cater to run-of-the-mill designs that will easily sell well. “So many people in Pakistan consider jewelry just as an instrument for displaying their wealth. My designs negate this concept. I have been designing jewelry for 10 years now, creating pieces that emanate a sense of style rather than just wealth.”
Her clients, of course, are very niche – given the high prices of gold, the general populace isn’t willing to invest heavily in statement pieces. Kiran, then, designs for the discerning jewelry enthusiast, the who’s who, the intelligent sartorialists who are willing to pay that extra amount for a unique individualistic touch, a Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy who’ll wear a gold cuff embedded with a diamond and sapphire Pakistani flag at the Oscars or a Meesha Shafi who’ll take center stage in custom-made calligraphic earrings proclaiming ‘Bol’. It’s no wonder that the red carpet of her store launch was star-studded, with the city’s designers and socialites filing in to show their support. These are the people that Kiran has always accessorized and they are happy to be her prime market, asking her for prices and product details at the launch. This shop’s going to be doing well, it seems.
“I have never created traditional jewelry and yet, my business does well,” Kiran agrees. “People are willing to pay the prices because they know that they’re not just buying gold jewelry, but designer creations.”
With business doing well, why did she opt to set up shop at the relatively low-profile Ocean Mall as opposed to the much more successful Dolmen City by the sea? “I don’t think I need the footfall – and the astronomical rates – that come with having a shop at Dolmen City,” she observes . “Ocean Mall will hopefully work well for me. My brand caters to a very select market and people who are interested in my work will willingly come to this shop. This store is going to display my signature gold pieces as well as my ‘So KFJ’ collections and the ‘Kino’ line, where I’ll be collaborating with an aspiring designer to develop a range of designs. I have always been experimental with ‘Kino’. In the future, I may collaborate with different artistes, a photographer or a ceramic designer even, delving into mediums other than gold.” A case in point is the ‘Shavings’ collection from the ‘Kino’ line that debuted in 2012, created entirely out of oakwood peels.
Currently on display at the store is the symbolic ‘Esoteric’ line and ‘Nau’, a continuation of ‘Barzakh’. Prices begin at Rs 20000, going up to several lakhs. “I think a standalone store was the next step,” says Kiran. “Regular clients will be able to come and see the latest jewelry lineups and place orders; potential customers will get a sense of what the brand is all about.”