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How a 20-year-old college student launched a jewelry company whose rings are worn by Michelle Obama

“Jewelry needs to fulfill the function for which it came into being. The only way that a Jewelry Designer will see its art in LIFE is with the eyes, the mind, and the heart of the Spectator. The viewer is the last stroke in any jewelry piece”. –

Ines Arenas Jewelry Gallery

Since Shilpa Yarlagadda launched Shiffon in 2017, Yarlagadda is juggling school (Harvard) with running a business in an industry she knew little about, learning as she goes.

This is not the typical path to any business or any jewelry business, but then not much about Shiffon is typical. Yarlagadda is building her business by deconstructing the traditional fine jewelry business model, selling direct-to-consumer online, and using the extra profits she makes by eliminating the middleman to fund start-ups that are led by women and that support women.

The journey to understand jewelry design started when one of her science professor’s boss had successfully a 3D design engagement ring for his wife and printed it.

From there Yarlagadda talked to CAD designers, casters, stone setters making pieces from the Tiffany blue book, polishers, stone sources, and jewelry production companies that manufactured for some of the most high-end jewelry brands.

In the diamond district, is where she saw how much craftsmanship can make a product stand out.

When Shiffon finally launched in April 2017, it was with one design, an adjustable, spiral pinkie ring embedded with a small diamond or gemstone.

Yarlagadda has explained that at the beginning the sales were made by chance or through a personal connection. For example, she sold a ring to an Uber driver who overheard her phone call describing what she was trying to do with Shiffon.

And Thanks To Celebrities…

One day Yarlagadda received a message from Emma Watson’s stylist, Sarah Slutsky, on LinkedIn and by email, trying to get Watson to wear the pinkie ring in public.

Finally, Slutzky put the pinkie ring on Watson in June 2017 when the star was in Paris doing a press tour for “The Circle.”

Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley each wore the pinkie ring to the Emmys, where they accepted awards for the massively popular HBO series, “Big Little Lies.”

Then Serena Williams and Michelle Obama wore the ring.

Yarlagadda jewelry has even participated in a campaign with Michelle Obama that was posted to social media with the hashtag #HoopsToVote (a nod to the “hoops” women had to jump through to get the right to vote).

…and the rest is history that takes us to the TODAY, one more time we see how the most important part of a jewel is the symbolism, the meaning, and the history behind the piece.

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