Puja Shah, co-founder and creative director of Moi, claims that she designed the brand’s best-selling Revival necklace by accident. The dazzling necklace, which comprises charms of colorful gemstones, is accentuated by uncut and rose-cut natural diamonds. Its distinctly handcrafted look is a reflection of Puja’s vision for Moi, which she co-founded in 2019 with her husband Kunal Shah. Without any prior sketches or plans, the necklace came about almost of its own accord when Puja was playing around with assorted gemstones and charms.
“When I design a product, it’s like building a jigsaw puzzle,” she said. “I like a little irregularity, a break in symmetry. That’s who I am and that’s what reflects in what I do.”
Moi is an extension of Puja’s personal style and expertise in art history. The brand was born when the Ahmedabad-based couple realized that there was value and beauty in the pieces Puja would compose for herself using leftover materials from their other fine jewellery brand named Aurus. These pieces, which Kunal lovingly calls “knick-knacks,” were luxurious, feminine, and exquisitely crafted, but practical and versatile as well. Compared to Aurus’ traditional Indian designs, Moi is an online-only, pret jewellery label, which stands for classics with a contemporary twist. More simply, Moi stands for everyday luxury.
India as an Inspiration
Said Puja, who studied jewellery design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “Gold and natural diamonds are the backbones of everything I design. But subtle details, like contrasting stones and enameling paired with the diamonds, are what elevates the classics. I believe that when diamonds are combined with other stones, it brings out their beauty.”
“Putting an Indian soul into a global piece, that’s what Moi does. Gold and natural diamonds are the backbones of everything I design.”Puja Shah
Puja’s approach to design is inspired by the India of exquisite craftsmanship, heirlooms passed down over generations, and delicate beauty. The motifs are decidedly Indian, but their layered storytelling places them firmly in the now. Similarly, the Twin diamond ring is an example of a Moi twist on a classic. Puja had worn this piece every day for twenty years before she brought it to Moi. Its playful use of negative space is highlighted by the pavé set diamonds on the band and prong-set diamonds facing each other, which sparkle mischievously when they catch the light.
Moments Made Special
As business partners, Puja and Kunal are a perfect yin and yang: she is a designer who thinks like an artist, while he is an engineer who loves design. Diamonds are a part of Puja and Kunal’s love story as well: when they were working in New York as fresh graduates, Kunal gifted Puja a diamond ring from Tiffany’s, bought with his first paycheck.
“That was an important day in our relationship,” said Kunal. “Gifting her the solitaire ring was really special. Whatever one may say about such gestures, the delight on her face on seeing the blue Tiffany box was worth it.”
Moi understands that jewellery is a symbol of love and a powerful medium for storytelling. What about jewellery captures Puja’s imagination today?
“Ironically, I don’t wear a lot of jewellery. But the only thing that excites me now is lots of Golconda diamonds,” laughed Puja, referring to the rare epic diamonds. “Nothing less than that.”
Their combined forces are behind Moi’s success, even though the couple was initially doubtful about whether women would trust them enough to buy fine jewellery online. Whereas India continues to embrace e-commerce, Moi has also managed to capture the trust of patrons, alongside its range of future classics.
Conscious Luxury for the Instagram-age
By harnessing Instagram to tell stories which hero the natural diamonds, gemstones, and other materials they use, and because of Puja’s evocative designs, Moi has a large clientele ranging from regular women from places as diverse as Calicut and Shrinagar to Bollywood actresses on the red carpet and members of Indian royal families.
“I like the lack of fussiness, the small details that make it precious, and how easily wearable Moi’s pieces are. Small moments of beauty are what make life richer”Rymn Massand
Said Rymn Massand, New York-based creative consultant, of Moi’s jewellery. “I believe we should enjoy our fineries daily. Eat off your best plates, bring out the good wine every evening, wear your nicest dresses, enjoy the gilded teacups. Small moments of beauty are what make life richer.”
Like the timelessness of diamonds, Puja does not adhere firmly to jewellery trends. She believes in the power of classics, like a white shirt and the little black dress, and in slow fashion. In her jewellery this is evident in the way she uses geometric shapes inspired by the Art Deco period, which never go out of style.
Puja believes that responsible luxury means keeping up with evolving trends while also creating versatile elements. For example, she suggests that the symmetrical hexagonal motif of the Hexa Clip-On earrings could become gender-fluid when used as earrings for women and cufflinks for men.
“An important aspect of what I design is that the product should be in the core material that I’ve chosen,” she said.
“While the most popular diamonds nowadays are brilliant-cut diamonds, polki is also beautiful in its own way because of its inherently irregular shape and sparkle. When something is suited for a diamond, it has to be a natural diamond.”Puja Shah
Puja and Kunal want to continue growing their business via social media, through content drawn from Puja’s deep knowledge about the history of jewellery and art. They believe that sales is an outcome of great content based around a beautiful product. Ultimately, the pair just want Moi’s jewellery to inspire enduring delight in their wearers.
“There’s no common umbrella that connects the people who buy Moi, except an appreciation for good work,” said Puja. “Our only policy is that our pieces should spark joy.”