Innovative Jewellery Designers
It is so easy to get caught in the groove of trends and what’s popular, especially in a realm like jewellery designing. Not for these women though. They have managed to break free from the shackles of fads and have created a true identity for themselves by way of their jewellery. Their creations are nothing but a figment of their persona; bold, subtle, feminine, strong, elegant, simple and what not. Vijetha Rangabashyam talks to these jewellery designers whose jewellery is anything but ordinary.
People’s tastes are changing when it comes to jewellery. As I was walking down the aisles of IIJS, one thing that struck me the most was that there was so much buzz around jewellers who exhibited creations that are out-of-the-ordinary. While conventional jewellery are still relevant for weddings and other special occasions, women are increasingly drawn towards jewellery that are wearable every day and more importantly designs that are versatile. Also, quirky jewellery that uses unusual materials and come in abstract shapes are so much in demand these days. These jewellery designers do what they best do while understanding the pulse of the audience. Their jewellery is the antithesis of run-of-the-mill and they are not afraid to experiment.
Pallavi’s fascination has always remained with art. An alumnus of NIFT, Pallavi worked as a jewellery designer for Tanishq for 10 years. “After 10 years of designing many successful lines of jewellery for Tanishq, I decided it was time to fulfill my dream of setting up a design studio and creating avantgarde jewels under my own label.” Her parents let her sketch on the walls of her room, after realizing that it gave her immense pleasure and a sense of freedom and this is where Pallavi’s encounter with art and design began. Inspired by mushrooms that bloom in the forest, her latest ‘Wild Mushroom’ collection takes a cue from the untamed mushroom that grows in any shape and form, much like the spirit of her creations.
“The concept of the threedimensionality comes to me from my childhood. My father is a builder and I have spent many hours playing hide and seek, in buildings that were still under-construction. The concept of three-dimensionality is almost a part of my DNA..”
A signature Pallavi Foley piece is luxurious and understated in an unexpected way. “My imagination is my biggest design resource and I am fearless when I design. I let my mind wander. I find my inspiration everywhere, in my lover, in my vivid visualization of what I read, in movies, in paintings, in my daughter’s constant chatter.” Pallavi believes that gold is a beautiful metal to work with, as one can almost achieve anything that one visualizes in terms of form, styling and sculpture with. “After working with it for 17 years, I always felt I know exactly how much I can stretch it, but gold has never ceased to surprise me.”
Who is a Pallavi Foley woman? “Pallavi Foley woman is a woman who does exactly what she wants, where she wants to and how she wants. She’s a trendsetter and not afraid to bring alive her inner-self to the outer-world. She’s bold from the inside and the outside. She understands fashion, and has a strong personal style. She bends the rules of fashion to create her own style statement with heroic ease.”
Pallavi uses the latest technology of CAD and the unique skills of the best craftsmen in the country to create her jewellery. “Blend of three dimensional forms, new wearability techniques and the best traditional craftsmanship help me create the conceptually new visual flavours in jewellery design.”
Test tube pendants, electric fuse ladder earrings, jewellery inspired from brass plumbing washers – if these are not different, then what is? Designed and handcrafted in her studio in New Delhi, Studio Metallurgy draws inspiration from Industrial design - which is synonymous with precision and accuracy, sharp finishes and clean lines. A History Hons graduate from St.Stephens, Advaeita pursued her dream of art and design and a degree in Fashion Design from Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy. “It gave me the perfect space to discover myself, breaking the mold of the Indian education system and allowed me to observe the best design practices at close quarters.” On returning to India, she worked under Tarun Tahiliani. “I owe my growth as a raw fledgling creative mind, to a more nuanced understanding of aesthetic balance to his personal mentorship.”
With no formal education in jewellery designing whatsoever, Advaeita’s journey has been quite an interesting one. “Art and fashion always attracted me and I had a natural flair for design. While I started out imagining a career focused on fashion design, working and growing as a design professional my appreciation for accessory and product design grew as well.”
Metallurgy is a deep-rooted passion and Advaeita’s need to engage with different materials, transforming them into meaningful Objet’s d’art. “I think about creative design with a strong focus on innovative approaches, and embark on an exploration of materials. I always question traditional notions of use. The final objects are aimed to delight and surprise because they embrace contemporary ideas and materials using both age old and new technologies for execution.” But using metals such as brass in unconventional designs that too is a big risk in a country like India that is steeped in tradition.
“I suppose it helps to believe in a fool’s paradise. Whether it would be difficult to sell or break into a space dominated by traditional jewelry, is something that never crossed my mind simply because I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people as friends and family who loved what I made and were enthused about it.”
All of Advaeita’s jewellery is made from brass. “It shines like liquid gold when polished and ages gracefully into a dull patina over time in sync with the ‘industrial’ look and feel.” The style sensibility of people who buy her jewellery are women with strong personalities and accessories are only meant to accentuate that further. “I work on the assumption that if I can wear what I make and I like it, then in a planet of about 7 billion people, there have to be more like me!”
Inspiration comes from everywhere for this one of a kind designer. “An auto ride gave me the idea to use rivets for making statement earrings combining the metal nozzle of a glue gun. I wanted to re-create corals and ocean life and experimented free hand metal casting with brass to create my Metal Coral collection.”
Manreet specialized in accessory design and marketing in NIFT and Parsons. She began her design career in luxury houseware and tabletop and spent 15 years working in New York and Delhi with brands such as Jay Strongwater, Michael Aram etc. “It was only when I decided to move back to India that I realized that I wanted to get back to my first love- Jewelry and that is how Manifest Design began.” Manreet has always been fascinated by all forms of body ornamentation specially jewelry and tattoos of Indian Tr ibes. “They wear jewelry with a lot of freedom and I found that very fascinating. Manifest is really our commentary on contemporary Indian Design. Pieces that have moved past traditional concepts of precious and trendy. Our jewelry is fearless and inspired and encourages the wearer to be the same way.”
Manreet likes working with castbrass and aluminum. Aluminum is an unusual and un-expected choice and she loves it as it is lightweight and does not tarnish like silver. “As a designer I’m always tuned into what is around me, but nature and art are my constant sources of inspiration. Being in nature always creates a sublime energy whereas art pushes the kinetic thought process and pushes the boundaries on how we observe things . I love monumental sculptures and the subtle textures in nature. It’s this duality that inspires me.”
Both men and women wear her jewellery and she was surpr ised by the number of takers as she didn’t expect people to embrace such bold pieces. Celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Twinkle Khanna and Lisa Ray own MD pieces. “I think the pieces trigger an emotional response in everyone. Women feel stronger and fiercer in our pieces. They wear our Sirena cuffs with Jamdani’s at weddings or our totem earrings to work or a statement quarry pendant with an ikat kurta.” Manifest’s pieces are Modern Heirlooms as she puts it. The pieces don’t fall into a style category and they are not time stamped for a particular season. Preciousness is not always defined by the materials used. The jewellery is not elitist at the same time they are accessible, fabulous pieces of jewellery one would like to own.
Manreet is currently about to release a group inspired by the melancholy of the monsoons; large sensuous swirly waves combined with bold cloud like forms crafted in silvery aluminum. “We are also getting ready for the holiday and wedding season with our new collections. Excited to have more ladies wearing our pieces this winter season!”
One look at Roma’s Instagram feed and you realize that people buy her pieces for their peculiarity. Her grid hair pin for instance is a fad. Though Roma herself is clearly not a follower of any fad, she has her own style and her jewellery is definitely a reflection of that. “My brand actually came about in a very organic way – I started out by making a couple of pieces just for myself to wear, and got quite a few people asking me about them when I’d wear them out. Eventually, I decided to experiment with designing more pieces and created a small first collection.” A graduate of fashion design technology at central Saint Martins London and MA in luxury brand management at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Roma worked with Manish Arora before starting her own brand.
Roma Narsinghani jewelry is about originality and strikingan interesting balance between form and function. “I am endlessly inspired by all kinds of architecture. During my time at fashion school in Italy, I sketched designs I saw at the Pantheon in Rome as well as many beautiful buildings I came across in Milan and Florence and their aesthetic has found its way into some of my pieces. Closer to home, Mumbai’s art deco heritage provides inspiration on a daily basis.
The quirky hair pin is a take on her mom’s hair bun from the 80’S, which was created with wire and stones. She fell in love with the idea the minute she saw it and decided to rework the design for an everyday topknot. Women have gone gung-ho over the hair grid. “Ideally, my customer is one who is sophisticated and bold, someone who actively expresses her cultivated taste and is not afraid to experiment.”
Her new collection is called Beautiful Decay. It takes influences from every day wearand tear of architecture, Ariel shots of cities, which make for beautiful grid patterns. “I distil multiple references to create something completely new. My pieces can be bold and striking or whimsical and quirky. Each piece is painstakingly hand crafted by skilled artisans and many of my pieces can be styled in multiple ways.”
Ikroop’s journey to becoming a jewelry designer is a serendipitous one. She worked in thecorporate space with CNBC TV18 for approximately five years. Her travel abroad exposed her to the beautiful world of Glass Art and it is then she decided to pursue her creative calling. “I apprenticed under renowned glass artist Atul Bakshi to understand the nuances of Glass as a medium of Art. My expertise is in a technique called Glass Fusion or Murano, named after the Island of Murano in Venice which is famous for this technique.” Having had no technical training in jewellery design, she started off learning the ropes from the very roots by sitting with karigars at their addas and then she went on to do a course in tech design from IIGJ, Delhi.
Ikroop’s jewellery is equal parts joyful and unique. Ever since she started her label, the idea was always to handcraft creations that bring happiness to the people wearing them and to make them feel special.
“We are a colour happy brand; in-fact the core of the brand has always been kaleidoscopic. Even when I created the collection with clear glass, I used iridescence within the glass to give it a mutli-hued shimmer.”
The jewellery is unique but not over the top. Her kind of wearer is someone who appreciates the
effort that goes behind a handcrafted piece. “My accessories work best with clean silhouettes and monochromes, and I’ve often noticed that women, who are very clear about what they want their look to be, tend to pick up my bold pieces.” Ikroop is the only brand in the country and possibly in the work that marries the unique glass art technique of Murano with Indian karigari
to create accessories which are unique. Her jewellery is all gold plated with a bass alloy metal base.
In her new collection she will be combining two of her favorite glass technique – iridescent and dichroic and it is going to be an amalgam of clear glass with pops of colour. “We’ll be doing some bold contemporary shapes. I’m most excited about the line of statement neck pieces that’ll be a part of the collection.”
When you wear something by Razia Kunj, you are carrying pieces of art with you from Kerala,
Rajasthan and the historic region of Shikhawati or those bearing the power of Devi or the myriad forms and elements that belong to the quintessential Indian temple. A graduate of applied Arts from Sophia College, Bombay, she has been fashioning the success of brands, be it creating logos and identity design for corporates or pack designs for some of India’s leading brands. “My mother, an art teacher, would take me along to Chira Bazaar, Mohammed Ali Road, and Abdul Rehman Street to source some material that she needed for her projects. These moments in my early life are etched in my mind forever. Especially because I saw the process by which a material of any arbitrary shape, size or colour transforms into a beautiful piece of art. The process of making something extraordinary out of something ordinary was intoxicating. This is the principle I apply to my own unique style of jewellery making.”
To appreciate her jewellery, one has to be a lover of art and everything around it. “I have seen that most of the people who seek my jewellery are the ones who seek the preciousness of the art and the craft. They may or may not be fascinated by the jewellery’s resale value or the market value of the precious metal or stone. These are people for whom their sense of individuality is priceless.” Razia uses wood generously along with brass. She enjoys the freedom and options wood gives her with variety in colour texture and form. “It is a versatile material that combines colour and metal beautifully.”
Razia also has jewellery in the offing for men. “Jewellery is adornment for man and woman. If you look at any traditional image of Indian kings or legendary icons, you’ll see how much adornment plays a role in their attire. I do have jewellery for men but the collection is yet not out.” Indianness is the essence of her jewellery whether they are pieces inspired by the Rajasthani Jharokha or the umpteen colours found in Kerala’s Theyyam. “My latest collection is yet again based on India and the idea of Indianness. While the reveal is still a couple of months away, I can tell you that it’ll be new graphic expression of an age old symbology
Coming from a family of jewelers, Aditi and Aashna have an inherent and a genuine passion for jewellery. They have been exposed to jewellery and everything that goes into making them from a young age, from running around the shop floor to walking on Bond Street in London, with their father, peeping into every window display. While Aditi went to GIA in California to complete a couple of short courses, such as design and CAD, Aashna is a lawyer by profession and has no formal education in jewellery. In fact, when they launched Tipsyfly, Aashna planned to be associated with it only for a year. It’s been over 22 months now, and she can’t imagine doing anything else.
Tipsyfly began to address an important gap that the duo felt existed in the market – for trendy, dependable quality and yet affordable fashion accessories. “Through Tipsyfly, we endeavour to celebrate style, individuality, femininity and power. Our efforts are directed towards ensuring that the modern Indian woman has the luxury of style choices without the financial woes that traditionally come with accessory shopping, all with the click of a button.”
The jewellery is made using a mix of premium alloys and Tipsyfly is targeted at the young, urban Indian woman. Tipsyfly recognizes that love for accessories, be it an oversized cuff, an elegant necklace or a chunky ring, is universal one for women. “We simply want to make it easy and affordable for women in India to be effortlessly stylish – whoever they are and whatever their tastes may be.”
Jewellery is just one of the things Himani is passionate about as it comes under the bigger umbrella of all things beautiful. Essentially, she is passionate about art and design and since she is professionally trained in jewels, it became a natural medium of expression for her. A graduate of NIFT, Himani later went to Creative Academy, Milan, to pursue MA in Luxury Design & Management. Before Chicory Chai, she worked across jewellery sector from export houses to domestic jewellers to UNDP project with the Government of Gujarat. In Milan, she trained under legendary Giampiero Bodino in his studio and worked for the Richemont brands like Cartier, Mont Blanc, Jeager Le Coultre, etc.
Chicory Chai is earthy, romantic and progressive. “I’m exceptionally inspired by anything that comes from a past era and shows signs of age - grey hair, wrinkles, chipped paint, fallen walls, patina, rust, etc. Stor y is a non-dispensable, integral part of every collection, every jewellery piece that gets created. It’s very important for me that every design has a context. I love the fact that I dream a design, they br ing it to life and the final wearer completes it. It’s a beautiful collaboration!”
The Chicory Chai woman has got to be a powerhouse of style and grit. She’s coy but not one to take authority; she is not out there to prove anything to anyone. She’s so secure in her shoes that she dresses up for herself, first and foremost. Her style is expressive but not seeking approval. She is mature in her thought and looks beyond the obvious. She’s the last one to follow trends. Himani loves working with all kinds of metals. “To me, brass is as much valuable as silver which is as much valuable as gold. Each one of them has uniqueness not present in the other. So I don’t discriminate.” Chicory Chai’s USP is the f act that it’s 100% ‘handcrafted’ and not ‘hand-assembled’ - a piece becomes hand crafted when each element of it is devoid of any mechanised interference as evidenced by her latest coin collection. The collection is very elaborate in its design and has some heavy pieces created in brass with antique coins and traditional motifs.” Chicory Chai started with coins way back in 2013 and the collection is very contemporary in its look and has a distinct style quotient in its detailing and form. We have used five different kinds of coins and each neckpiece is a statement of its own.”