The Royal Gem
Masters in the craft of creating exceptional pearl laden jewellery pieces, Al Hashimi Pearls pays an ode to The Kingdom’s oldest and richest trade
BY ANAAM IKRAM
Pearl trading in Bahrain can be dated back to 2000BC being referred to as “fish eyes” according to the Assyrian texts based off the Kingdom’s ancient name, “Dilmun”. The trade marked the country’s identity as the hub for the highest quality natural pearls. Attracting pearl merchants, collectors, and jewellers from Paris to India, Bahrain’s history is encrusted with pearls as the trade is synonymous with not only the country’s image to the world, but also its culture – an imminent factor that separates Bahrain from the rest of the GCC. For most of those still part of the pearling industry, they were born into the trade, the older generation passing on the business to the newer one and continuing to build upon the foundations laid by their forefathers; renowned jeweller Vijay Shah’s fascination with pearls and the industry as a whole brought him to the Kingdom from India in 1983, and inspired him to set up his business as Al Hashimi Pearls, becoming one of the country’s most recognised pearl jewellers.
Starting in the trade in 1980, the royal and luxurious nature of pearls drew Vijay Shah towards the industry and motivated him towards pursuing a career as a pearl merchant, and eventually setting up his shop in the heart of Bahrain, in the old Manama gold souq. Prior to setting up his business, Vijay enrolled in the GIA Academy to get a firm understanding of not only the value of precious gems – especially pearls – but also to learn how to grade the gems to find out which are of the highest of quality. Upon his return he set up the business and quickly became associated with the title of the one of the Kingdom’s most prestigious jewellers.
Handpicking the pearls himself, Vijay says each and every pearl is selected and used as per the standards set by the industry to ensure their pieces deliver upon clients’ expectations. The precious stones acquired come from across the globe and much like the pearls, the stones are also of only the finest quality. Brining diamonds from Belgium, emeralds from Zambia, and rubies from Burma, and the pearls from Bahrain, each and every jewellery item created at Al Hashimi Pearls is exquisite, unique, and nothing short of dazzling.
As the tradition of pearling often follows, the younger generation inherit the trade from the one before, and that is no different for Vijay Shah and his children, as they too are involved in evolving and expanding the business. His son, Hardik Shah, manages the operations, as daughter, Ishita Shah, is the creative behind the stunning designs at Al Hashimi Pearls. From traditional Bahraini pieces adorned by brides on weddings to smaller and simpler pendants or a single-pearl sown into a white gold chain, each and every piece of jewellery at Al Hashimi Pearls is made using the finest of pearls. From the perfectly round Jiwan (or G1) pearls to the irregular baroque pearls in various colours, shapes, and lustres. Even making use of the smallest pearls to create their alluring and versatile tassel collection, the pieces at Al Hashimi Pearls are the definition of luxury as they are a composed of the royal gem and gleaming precious stones.
With the ever-changing times, the trends also change, and Vijay notes over the years he has seen a shift in customers’ preference about how they would like to incorporate pearls into their style, but certain styles have always remained favourites over the customers throughout the years. Timeless pieces such as the pearl chokers – single, 3, 5 or 7 strands – are a classic as they can be worn by anyone on any occasion without seeming out of place. The traditional “karkoosha” pieces have also always been in demand by customers as it is something that is both traditional and stylish at the same time. Also keeping in mind the personal tastes of each of their customers, Vijay says they create special pieces as per their client requests; especially when creating bridal jewellery. One of the most important things, Vijay says, is ensuring they are able to deliver upon their clients’ requests within a certain budget.
“It is a vital thing to keep in mind as nowadays everyone has their own budgets but they want the same thing that they have in their minds, and we have to create something accordingly”, he says.
Meticulously working to create the perfect pieces, Hardik Shah explains that for each strand of pearl created, an equal amount is unused as sometimes the pearls break and cannot be reused. The longer pearl strands can easily take up to a year as there are no machines used and the skilled craftsmen sow the pearls in the string by hand and to ensure their original quality remains, there are no alterations made to them.
With three stores across Bahrain, Al Hashimi Pearls has created an inbuilt trust not only in Bahrain, but also within the Middle East, the US, and Europe. Mr. Vijay explains, as an establishment their main aim is to transfer pearls – the beautiful wonders of the ocean – into classic pieces of jewellery. Each jewellery item at Al Hashimi Pearls revels within a story of its own and adding that to the wearer. Signifying a rich amalgam of passion and creativity, the jewellery house constantly strives to push beyond the limits of design and production. Each piece created retells the story of a journey through different cultures and multi-ethnic influences, carefully crafted by skilled artisans. Much like how the pearl is embedded within gold to complete a piece of jewellery, the art of pearling is also deeply embedded within the history of Bahrain, and the passion flows the same through each member of the trade and at Al Hashimi Pearls, whether it is for the dainty hints of pearl within the wearer’s style or the bigger, more ornate statement pieces, they cater to each with just as much love and passion, and through this nature has inserted itself as one of the most recognised and sought after pearl jewellers within the Kingdom.
For more information:
Gold Souq, Sh. Abdulla Road, Manama
(00973) 1725 3377
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