How Danes Mads and Mikkel made a global success of men's jewellery
When global superstar Jay-Z wanted a unique piece of jewellery, it was Danish duo Mads and Mikkel Kornerup who got the call. Behind their exclusive men's jewellery lies an important vision for the brothers: "Remember your values".
At the age of 19, Mads Kornerup was travelling in Brazil. He saw gemstones for the first time and was completely enthralled.
Fascinated. Captivated. He couldn't let go of the idea of doing something with these beauties, as he puts it, and the mental process began. This led to jewellery designs known across the globe.
"I've never been afraid to wear jewellery, and my brother Mads and I shared the same vision. We thought that if we like to wear jewellery, there must be other men out there who feel the same way," says Mikkel.
A trip to Brazil was the starting point for what is now Shamballa Jewels – the jewellery line that has become a hit among those who appreciate everyday luxury.
The brothers' diamonds and gemstones have been spotted on Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, designer Karl Lagerfeld, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and, notably, the aforementioned artist, entrepreneur, and businessman Jay-Z.
When Jay-Z Wanted Something Special
Of course, many years of creative processes and business development have passed since 19-year-old Mads was in Brazil, leading up to this story about when star Jay-Z requested a very special bracelet. But let's jump straight to the cool part, as it involves one of the greatest rappers of all time.
"Shamballa Jewels was born out of a desire to create beautiful jewellery that is more than just precious materials. The name Shamballa Jewels is inspired by a mythical kingdom in the Himalayas," begins Mads calmly.
The two brothers from Copenhagen radiate professionalism and coolness. Both sporting white beards, rings on their fingers, bracelets and long necklaces. Yet they also come across as humble and balanced.
"In 2001, at the very beginning of Shamballa Jewels, we had the opportunity to design a bracelet for music icon Jay-Z. At the time, many celebrities were starting to practise yoga and meditation. Jay-Z was part of this movement and asked for a bracelet that would be more meditative than the traditional jewellery from the rap world," Mads shares.
A set of golden beads was created, engraved with the rapper's personal logo and initials, and adorned with two half-carat diamonds. This was the start of what is now the iconic braided bracelet known as Shamballa®. And this was also the beginning of the journey that has culminated in today's success for Mads and Mikkel.
Collaboration with Villa Copenhagen
The brothers now have a flagship store in Copenhagen. In addition, they have put their signature on the interior of the five-star hotel Villa Copenhagen in Copenhagen.
Specially Designed Just for You
The success of jewellery exclusively for men isn't as surprising as many might think.
Mikkel points out that men have been wearing jewellery as a testament to their faith or achievements for centuries. Over time, this was replaced with suits and watches.
"We thought, and still do, that these two traditions can be combined," says Mikkel.
The jewellery of the Danish brothers is about tradition and history. A place midway between ancient Eastern philosophy and Nordic design traditions. Additionally, with a very exclusive twist:
"Our jewellery is tailored to the customer, providing collectors with a unique opportunity to create a personal treasure that represents the values and memories each individual wishes to live by."
Over time, their collection has expanded to include necklaces, earrings, rings, and cufflinks. And now it caters to both men and women.
The Vision Behind the Jewellery
The brothers themselves wear several bracelets on both arms, some classic and some personal. What they mean is private, but regardless of gemstones, gold or diamonds, the vision is something far beyond the luxurious and materialistic.
"We've both been practicing yoga for many years, and we've always been curious about how people have used accessories for centuries, such as prayer beads and meditation, to explore their inner selves. And this is something we can all get better at today - to pause, breathe and find balance," says Mikkel.
Indeed, this is exactly what the brothers want people to experience and remember through the jewellery and the symbols they represent.
"This vision has been important to us from the start and is even more relevant today, when people are looking for something luxurious beyond materialism:
"It's about remembering your values in life."