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From Biotech To Bling

Feb/25/2024 / by Brian Sodoma

Shaneli Jain left her corporate career to launch her jewelry line

South Asian woman in white knotted cop top wearing diamond choker and bracelet
Photo Courtesy: Shaneli Jain

Creativity is a natural human instinct. A person may be drawn to play an instrument, paint or write poetry, or it can manifest in other ways. Some, for example, are creative in the way they solve problems or maybe have unique perspectives on everyday things. They may express that creativity through their work or in how they relate to others.

Shaneli Jain, 28, initially thought her creativity could be used to help others in the field of biotech. But over time, a different creative urge grew inside her: jewelry design. Jain recently took a leap of faith by leaving corporate America behind to launch her first jewelry line, Asymmetry x Shaneli.

“I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I now can follow that same path,” she said.

Growing Up Around Diamonds

Jain grew up in Los Angeles around her family’s diamond business. Her father and mother, Nirmal and Neena, came from India and started Neon Gems in the early 1980s, focusing on loose diamonds. The business then branched out into jewelry design, and its reputation for finding the finest gems worldwide and crafting elegant pieces for weddings, engagements, and other memorable events grew. The company’s pieces have been awarded the JCK Jeweler’s Choice Awards.

“I’m so proud of my parents. They started this business with limited resources and grew it into something beautiful that is flourishing,” Jain said. “I grew up in a wonderful household. My parents were my biggest supporters and mentors, and they always looked out for my best interest. They never pressured me into a specific career either.”

But Jain later discovered that she pressured herself into a corporate career. Curious about science as a child, she studied biotech and economics at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, then went on to the University of Oxford for a graduate degree in neuroscience and economics. She worked for pharmaceutical companies and consulted for businesses and nonprofits while living in San Francisco. Along the way, however, Jain realized she “never felt fully satisfied, especially creatively.”

“I really enjoyed the vision of helping people and was interested in health and business,” she added, “but I guess I didn’t realize as I was going through that path, I was almost forcing myself into it.”

A Shift In Focus

In 2022, Jain was featured in the first episode of TLC India’s “Say Yes to the Dress.” The segment highlighted her eye for design in planning her wedding and choosing her dress.

“I’ve always had an eye for how to pair things with clothing and with someone’s figure. It had been noticed by others around me,” she noted.

The moment inspired her to follow her natural creative instincts. She joined forces with her parents and explored a path in jewelry design.

Inspired By Nature

Jain developed a theme for Asymmetry x Shaneli, which is inspired by life’s ever-changing nature and the earth’s elements: wind, water, fire and air.

The line’s necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets range from simple and elegant to statement pieces in white, yellow, or rose gold.  Many pieces are designed to highlight the unique beauty, simplicity, and imperfection of natural shapes like leaves, hearts, clovers, and butterflies, to name a few.

“I’ve always been [interested in] things that are outside the box. That’s why the pieces have their curvature and the geometric shapes are not perfect, almost uneven in places. It all stems from how life is, full of twists and turns, never eternally perfect, it’s always a give and take,” she added.

With an exciting future ahead of her, Jain hopes to continue to enjoy more inspiration to grow the line further. So far, she has no regrets in deciding to switch careers, and appreciates having access to some of the best craftsmen in the jewelry business at Neon Gems.

“I’m proudest of taking charge and following my passion,” she said. “Plus, the quality of the products we offer too. We pride ourselves in what we do and want to give people a piece only we ourselves would wear happily and proudly.”