Shamballa Brings New-School Jewels to EPT Champs

Shamballa founder Mads Kornerup.

Bucking the trend of traditional gold winner bracelets, the European Poker Tour has partnered with Shamballa Jewels to give their champions some of the most sought-after jewelry on the planet.

Founder and chief designer Mads Kornerup started Shamballa in the early 90s in New York and has since adorned some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, including Jay-Z and Michael Jordan.

Now Kornerup has designed a bracelet that will be awarded to EPT main event winners.

“The concept for our bracelets came about when Jay-Z came into the shop in New York after September 11, in 2001, and wanted something that no one else had,” Kornerup told at the EPT Grand Final in Madrid.

“Everyone else was going to Jacob the Jeweler and just getting over-sized bling. The more sparkle it had the better it was,” Mads continued. “And at this point Jay-Z already had his earrings and his big necklaces and he wanted something that was more down to earth.”

That’s the philosophy all Shamballa jewelry is based on, says Kornerup, who traveled extensively to buy ancient pieces from cultures where heavy jewelry on men is still the norm, seeking to connect his pieces with Buddhism and other Eastern belief systems.

Jay-Z sporting his Shamballa necklace.

“The mysticism and iconography of all those places affected me in a big way as a boy who grew up in Northern Denmark,” Kornerup related.

Kornerup sees the poker world as the perfect place for Shamballa Jewels, given poker players’ superstitious habits and conversations with past clients.

“Things happen when you’re wearing this jewelry and my clients all tell me they believe it’s the relationship they have with their bracelet”

Michael Jordan, the owner of nine Shamballa bracelets and numerous necklaces, can’t bear to be without his according to Kornerup.

“When we had to do service on [Michael’s] bracelet he couldn’t even imagine not wearing it, so he bought another one to wear in the meantime.”

The EPT Grand Final is currently in its penultimate day, meaning one lucky poker player will be receiving his own $16,000 winner bracelet tomorrow evening.

To follow the action, click through to PokerListings' EPT Live Updates.

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