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A Little More Than Just Jewellery

Can jewellery be an artform? These 10 modern jewellery designers are pushing the envelope to explore just that.

Sharmi Adhikary

Creative problem solving, storytelling, reviving an ancient art form, exploring the diversity in art, self-expression or translating an instinct for nostalgia; the definitions might vary but the end boils down to the same for a talented crop of jewellery designers lauded for their supreme bent towards aesthetics that denote a larger context in the realm of art wherein their creations almost become an animate entity breaking free from the usual canvas to hug the contours of the human form. This is wearable art that belies any conformist definition. We explore 10 such brands doing exemplary work in the field right now that are constantly bringing in innovations in the concept and aesthetics of jewellery design by pushing the boundaries of creative franchise.

1. Eurumme by Eishita Puri 

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Seeking for the allure in a foible, Eishita Puri’s designs defy the conventional definitions of perfection. Here is a non-conformist mind whose jewellery proves that there is beauty in a blemish. Puri does not break a sweat over the fact that not everyone will see beauty in her creations sold under the label, Eurumme. But that’s what makes her craft so tantalising. She’s celebrating the unconventional delicacy in all sorts of imperfections. To her, anomalies are exquisite and that inspires the designer in her. Eurumme creations lack the typical polished look, the veneer that makes it catch the regular connoisseur’s fancy, yet the pieces are bold, edgy and unconventional in their get-up. Stones are uncut and metals are positioned without much co-ordination. The look is rough, raw but fabulous. This makes them stand out in the hoi polloi. “That’s the motto of my brand. There are many who don’t like this raw look. But those who like it, love it,” explains the designer.

2. Absynthe Design by Abhisek Basak

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In the Victorian period, a drink called absynthe was a sought-after elixir amongst connoisseurs in Europe. Much more potent than the usual alcoholic concoctions, the herbal potion drove the drinker wild while the effect lasted. Abhishek Basak wants his creations to have that kind of effect on the onlooker. A magic spell that would last, in his case, maybe forever. The reason why he named his label of fashion bijouterie Absynthe Design. Crafted from intricate parts of antique watches and clocks, these one-of-a-kind ornaments are inspired by the belief that man could harmoniously co-exist with nature. Not your regular jewellery, each piece is a statement in quirk as well as elevated art even as they fulfil the objective of holistic sustainability. “A watch is the most fascinating invention of man that marries science, mechanism and art to measure something invisible and intangible. Time is a concept and no other human creation strikes this balance with such precision. I wanted my creations to be like that. Tell a unique story in a spellbinding form,” says Basak whose craft has been applauded for constantly smudging the lines between art and design.

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3. Anki Bunki Aditi by Aditi Chakraborty

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©Instagram/anki bunki aditi

Be it to tell a story, or discover an avenue to overcome personal strife, every kind of art should leave an indelible impression on the viewer’s mind. Aditi Chakraborty of Anki Bunki Aditi has been driven by that notion. Crafting jewellery mainly out of clay that brought back the ancient tradition of clay jewellery practised in the days of yore, she gradually incorporated brass, wood, fabric and ceramic beads in her designs that are a statement in size and expression. Her latest wedding trousseau collection is a bevvy of bold designs in brass that define classiness with a hint of whimsy. “I craft my thoughts through these statement creations that are inspired by Indian culture. The pictures could be anything to do with Indian architecture, Goddesses or our heritage,” says Chakraborty. Sounds like some really interesting art to wear. 

4. Dhora by Aavriti Jain

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If you want to fall in love with notes from the desert, creations from Dhora by Aavriti Jain should be your end port. There’s something about the arid beauty of Rajasthan that triggers the creative faculty in most. The architectural flamboyance of old forts, havelis and palaces, the riot of colours in the clothes donned by the natives and the parched yet flamboyant landscape almost nudges one to explore new avenues of art on an everyday basis. One such inspired soul was Aavriti Jain, whose formative years in Jaipur honed in her the eye to single out the allure in this barrenness. That and spending endless hours at the jewellery workshop of her father, a man she has inherited her design aesthetics from. 

The versatility of Dhora lies in its power to regale women with a taste for delicate artistry and skilled workmanship. “Times have changed. We have more working women in our country today and we all need the same circulation in jewellery as we did in clothes. A pair of precious earrings costs as much as a designer lehenga. This is where an intricately designed fashion ornament comes in. You can have many options without burning a hole in your pocket and making a stylish turn at the same time,” explains Jain.  

5. Studio Metallurgy by Advaeita Mathur

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©Instagram/Advaeita Mathur

Art is subject to interpretations. Advaeita Mathur’s creations at Studio Metallurgy elicit that kind of response. Her stay in Italy—while studying fashion design at Marangoni, Milan—and travels across Europe moulded her formative design sensibilities. That she appreciates minimalism is seen in her work. “I am fascinated with the raw, sleek industrial feel that defines modernism,” she says, adding that, for her, design is creative problem-solving since it includes aesthetic beauty and balance as core elements in addition to utility. “I experiment with industrial hardware, concrete, metal, wood and fibreglass to create concept-driven jewellery pieces that become artistic collectables,” Mathur avers, explaining how an auto ride led her to make a range of earrings out of mushroom rivets because those rivets keep the beams of the autos in place. Electric fuses were an accidental discovery while trying to source copper wire and magnets. “Art should be a conversation starter. When I design, I keep that in mind,” she quips. 

6. Vasundhara by Vasundhara Mantri

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If you watch her function, you’ll probably notice that Vasundhara Mantri’s inspiration is from the bounteous nature around us. Drawings of bugs, bees, butterflies, peacocks, parrots and flowers, in all their glory, are the mainstay of her design ideology. Mantri has always believed in incorporating traditional elements in her design and juxtaposing them with a contemporary and quirky execution for that edge. Mantri loves to toy with precious stones but her execution is quirky and inventive. These stones find their place in geometric fishes, birds and other interesting patterns. “While the pieces are artistic with heavy floral accents, they are perfect for weddings. What I always keep in mind is the versatility and comfort. Whoever wearing my creations should not feel bogged down. They should enjoy themselves in Vasundhara,” Mantri opines. 

7. Bhavya Ramesh

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As much as you try to define the creations of Bhavya Ramesh in usual or absolute terms, the art speaking out of the products will not allow them to be described easily. That is the very essence of the work Ramesh does. She is an artist who is expressing her love for sentiments that clearly stand for free spirit and gypsy souls. Statement pieces that stand out for their boldness as well as quirk, the campaigns too are designed to bring out the liberated feel. “As a conscious silverware brand, we believe in fostering love and oneness to create a fluid community that wholeheartedly expresses itself. We believe in the power of being sensitive and sublime. Our creations evoke that in entirety,” explains Ramesh. 

8. Roma Narsinghani

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Roma Narsinghani’s leap of faith happened when she went public with her accessory pieces at the Magnetic Fields in Jaipur a few years ago after which her environment-friendly materials and processes have always been the talking point amongst lovers of her artisanal, handcrafted work made by dedicated artisans. The creations are based on architectural designs and structural accents that have served as an eternal muse for Narsinghani herself. “We want our patrons to be the women who are sophisticated and bold. Basically, someone who actively expresses her cultivated taste and is not afraid to experiement,” says the self-assured designer.

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9. Alankaara by Amrita Giriraj 

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The ethical accessory label’s narrative was set in 2014 when Amrita Giriraj was graduating from Srishti College. They were told to create a sustainable business model for a local seashell artisan group in Kanyakumari. The idea was to use a seashell, cast it in its entirety and enhance its natural beauty. That is also Alankaara’s thought process, she elaborates, where the raw materials, mainly botanicals, are procured from the local flower lady and are cast using the same techniques and values. Mend, not replace should be the mantra of sustainability, says Giriraj. But today, sustainability is understood as buying things that are organic, naturally dyed, etc. That’s just one aspect, she says, adding, “Sustainability is prolonging what you already have. The only reason I would buy a new towel is because the one I have finally stopped absorbing moisture. Extending the life of something is real sustainability. This ideology drives Alankaara.” 

10. Chaakmaati by Priya Yadav

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Crafting innovative jewellery with ceramics among other unconventional materials, Chaakmaati is all about standing out by virtue of art viewed through a unique prism. Made with clay and handcrafted with love, it's been a few years that Priya Yadav has been a top draw amongst urban fashionistas for her lightweight but offbeat designs. “Whenever a jewellery lover first sees our creations they think they will be heavy and cumbersome. But when they recognize how we play with the materials to make the bijou light yet attractive, they lap it up. This is the power of good design I feel. To make things look simple yet extremely stylish,” says Yadav, who extended her passion in pottery to launch Chaakmaati. “It was meditative to play with clay and shape it into beautiful pots. And I used the leftover clay to make aesthetic jewellery to adorn myself. I added coins, ghungroos, different glazes and shards of coloured glasses to the jewellery to give them a stand out look,” the designer quips.

Photo: Instagram/ Sonam Kapoor Ahuja; Featured brands
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