Unlike many contest winners who relax and rejoice after a big win, the work of Canadian jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia was only beginning when she learned that she had won top honors in the International Rio Tinto Diamonds Global Design Competition in mid-November. That’s because Ahluwalia entered the competition with just a sketch—albeit a highly technical one—of a necklace designed as an entry for the Canadian Diamond category of the contest. Working with Crossworks Manufacturing, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based diamond cutter, polisher, and jewelry manufacturer of Canadian-branded stones (Crossworks sponsored the independent designer), Ahluwalia was able to secure a wide range of rocks with Canadian certificates of origin to use in a design of her choice.
Ahluwalia’s creation—an 18k white gold necklace dubbed "Canoe" set with 28.96 cts. t.w. patented, ideal square-cut diamonds from Crossworks—aims to capture the beauty of the Canadian winter landscape through color and form, particularly with a seemingly snow-covered canoe-shaped focal point designed to conjure the image of a frozen lake.
“Celebrating the magic and beauty of Canada, my home, is the inspiration for my design,” Ahluwalia told the press upon the piece’s debut. “Canoes are … a symbol very unique to Canada that represent voyage, harmony with nature, discovery, and courage.”
Right after judging was complete, Ahluwalia and Crossworks got to work on the production of the piece, which they completed in the first week of February. “We were working on a very tight deadline,” the designer told JCK in a Skype interview on Wednesday morning. “I had 10 pages of technical drawings for every link and millimeter size of diamonds to properly execute my vision.”
Moreover, the square cuts help depict chunks of floating ice, an angled faceted interior on the Canoe pendant offers a decidedly crystalline look, and pavé links—representing the fluidity of the lake—finish the piece.
“It’s a very geometric piece,” said Ahluwalia. “Getting those angles right was important.”
Contest entrants worldwide were invited to submit designs in four categories: Champagne Diamonds, Silvermist Diamonds, Canadian Diamonds, and Sustainable Jewelry. Nine winners in total were chosen.
Next up: placement in a celebrity suite at the 2012 Academy Awards, taking place on Sunday, Feb. 26, where the Canoe necklace has the opportunity to be selected for wear on the red carpet by one of Hollywood’s elite. Then after the Oscars, the piece will be available for purchase for $300,000. Interested parties might even be able to take a peek at it at JCK Las Vegas, where it could be on display at the Rio Tinto booth. “Rio Tinto wants to take it to Las Vegas, but if somebody is ready to buy it, we would sell it,” says Ahluwalia.
And who might that buyer be? “Someone who is very secure in her own style and individuality, and who understands that passion is about making your own statement,” says Ahluwalia.
Canoe necklace in 18k white gold is set with 28.96 cts. t.w. Ideal Square Cut Canadian diamonds supplied by Crossworks Manufacturing; $300,000