Q. Tell us about yourself, including where you grew up and your education.
My father was a bureaucrat in Azad Kashmir during my school days. I attended the College of Home Economics in Lahore for my bachelor’s degree. It was there that I developed an interest in the arts and grew fond of designing.
Q. How did you start a career in jewellery designing?
I was always interested in designing and decorating things. I went to New York after getting married and felt a need for a fusion of the East and west in jewellery. I wanted some jewellery to go with my Pakistani dresses as well as my western dresses but couldn’t find anything of the sort. I felt that Western jewellery was lacking intricacy and jewellery from our part of the world was lacking simplicity and practicality, as it was too heavy. So I decided to learn jewellery making and designing at the New York Diamond exchange, where they provide short courses. This was back in 1980 when there were not too many jewellery schools around.
I started making jewellery and held my first exhibition in Washington DC in 1982. It was a big success and that really encouraged me. In 1983, I started designing for Lord & Taylor store on 5th avenue in New York.
Q. What is the process in creating these pieces?
It really depends. Sometimes I draw, sometimes I just play with different stones and come up with patterns that I like and slowly the design begins to come together. I have a group of very thorough craftsmen that have been working under my supervision for over twenty years. Once I design the piece, they put it together.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Designing for me is like writing poetry. I try to travel as much as I can, spend time with great people, and try to stay observant. This keeps me mentally at peace and ideas seem to keep coming.
Q. How big is the accessory business today from when you started?
Accessories were always very important but these days they make style statements. A beautiful necklace or a bag can tell a lot about a person!
Q. What materials and techniques do you favour and what makes your collections unique in the industry?
I have always worked with 22 Carat gold, real and genuine stones and my jewellery is all hand made. I believe in precision and elegance is my primary design principal.
I also believe one should invest in jewellery that lasts and gives you pleasure for many many years.
Q. What inspires your current collection?
I have made lots of necklaces, earrings and rings that are great statement pieces for all occasions.
Q. From your experience, what do you think brides in Pakistan usually go for on their baraat? And what do you suggest brides should go for on their main day?
These days brides prefer to wear a necklace close to the neck and one long necklace with matching earrings, jhomer, tikka and bracelets or chunky karras. Polki diamonds and diamonds are extremely popular. Some brides prefer gold with Kundan and stones like emeralds, rubies and pearls.
My suggestion for a bride would be to go for real jewellery, irrespective of the budget because jewellery lasts through generations. People are spending so much money on clothes and wedding decorations which are essentially useless after the wedding day.
Q. What is your personal favourite set you have ever created and why is it unique?
Over a period of 35 years of designing, I have designed hundreds of pieces. One of my favourites was part of my Egyptian collection that is pyramid design themed. The piece had turquoise and gold filigree work.
Q. What is next for Shafaq Habib? Your future plans?
I am opening a store in Mall 1 on Main Boulevard in Gulberg , Lahore in a couple of months. That is my upcoming project.