Shafaq Habib is a leading Pakistani jewellery designer who has a global fan following. She started her label, Shafaq Habib House of Jewellery, in the 80’s and revolutionised gold and diamond jewellery. This year she was selected among Pond’s Miracle Women for the year 2016. We met up with this amazing entrepreneur for a conversation on her career and brand name.
Faizan Hussain: What sparked your passion for jewellery?
Shafaq Habib: Beautiful things have always attracted me and jewellery has been one of them. I have loved and enjoyed jewellery ever since I was a child.
FH: Where do you take the inspiration of your jewellery designs?
SH: There are no hard and fast rules for inspiration. I believe in the curiosity and looking at the world with fresh, curious eyes. This is the kind of vision that a creative person never loses. So different environments, moods, weather and people can be the motivation.
FH: How do you select pearls and semi precious stones for your collection?
SH: I like pearls with hi lustre and unusual shapes. At the same time quality is very important for me and I travel all over the world to find these stones.
FH: What is the difference between ‘fashion jewellery’ and ‘fine jewellery’?
SH: Fine jewellery is made in gold and other precious metals and hi quality precious and semi precious unique stones and pearls; whereas fashion jewellery is made with low cost metals, wood plastic and other cheaper materials with no resale value. Low cost artificial stones and other cheaper materials are used.
FH: How much attention do you pay to trends when your jewellery is regarded timeless in fashion world?
SH: Trends are extremely important for me. It is always the quality, selection of stones and craftsmanship that make my jewellery timeless; and I never compromise on these.
FH: What are your favourite stones to work with?
SH: Pearls have always been my favourite to work with but I am also very fond of coloured stones as they put life in jewellery.
FH: Do your jewellery pieces have a theme or underlying idea?
SH: Yes of course! My jewellery always has a theme because I design it for different times and occasions like jewellery to be adorned in morning, evening, office wear, weddings etc.
FH: What distinguishes your jewellery from others?
SH: I am on a mission to be original in what I make. That means everything I design I do it with love. In addition, what sets my jewellery apart is that it reflects my own values and philosophies. It has a signature style which people recognise because it comes from within and is distinct.
FH: How important is colour to your design process?
SH: Colour play a big role in any art form, it totally changes the design and impact.
FH: How has the use of jewellery changed over the years?
SH: Life is ever changing and so is the jewellery, its designs, manufacturing techniques and usage. It shows the influence of different cultures around the world. Today, jewellery has more practical than it used to be. For educated and working women it is an expression of their personality than just a treasure.
FH: How big is the accessory business today from when you started?
SH: Accessories have become more important than clothes because the world of fashion is not limited to clothing only. It includes end number of items and the first thing that comes to our mind is jewellery. It is the only accessory that can totally change the appearance and convey a lot with very little.
FH: What do you like best about your line of work?
SH: Designing something outstanding always gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction.
FH: What is your business’ biggest challenge?
SH: Keeping up with the market changes and demands both regionally and internationally.
FH: Who is your real competitor in this business?
SH: Competition is a moving target. During the last 35 years several competitors emerged and vanished on their own.
FH: What trends can you foresee in near future?
SH: Gold is coming back with a bang and pearls will also be in great demand.
FH: What is the scope of young jewellery designers in Pakistan?
SH: There is a lot of scope for young people in jewellery field as long as they are original and hardworking.
FH: Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business?
SH: I keep getting miraculous help in so many countries of the world in terms of credit line, finding unique stones and rare items.
FH: As a designer, what is the legacy you wish to leave behind?
SH: Original work with lot of integrity and hard work.
Favourite piece in jewellery: My rings!
First piece of jewellery you made? I redesigned my wedding Kundan set.
Your most treasured jewellery item. Antique necklace!
What makes jewellery timeless? Craftsmanship, design and material.
Your hobbies or passions: I love to cook and entertain! And other passion is music.
What qualities a jewellery designer should posses? Jewellery designers must have aesthetic sense and patience to go into little details.
Your favourite jewellery designer: My favourite designer and inspiration as a person has always been Coco Chanal.
Any tip for selecting jewellery: Always go for quality and long lasting pieces.