For a fairly new entrant in the world of jewellery, Mumbai-based designer Neha Roongta’s designs are creating ripples. Her one-off compositions are bold and global in design, deftly combining the glamour quotient with high quality finish and unique gem settings.
Raised in Hong Kong in a family well-established in jewellery making, Neha was attuned to the business since her youth, but she chose to further perfect her skills at the Gemological Institute of America. Bringing in the blend of Asian cultures, teamed with typical manufacturing techniques practised in Hong Kong, Neha infuses engaging colour combinations in her couture and bespoke 18-karat gold collections. She strongly believes that jewellery has the power to influence moods and elicit reactions.
By Shanoo Bijlani
What made you opt for jewellery designing?
I was raised in Hong Kong and jewellery designing was a natural transition for me, since I belong to a renowned jewellery house in Hong Kong. My father moved to Hong Kong 40 years ago and began trading in diamonds and other precious stones. Soon after, he set up state-of-the-art jewellery manufacturing factories in Hong Kong and China.
I studied International Business in California, but post my graduation, I secured Graduate Gemologist and Jewellery Designing diplomas from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Since my childhood days, I have always been intrigued by the natural beauty of precious gems. In my early 20s, for the sheer joy of it, I had once designed rough jewellery sketches for my family. My parents noticed my unique ability and encouraged me to pursue this professionally.
Your jewellery is immersed in diamonds and gemstones and has a very contemporary and feminine feel to it…
I believe that everyone has their own aesthetic sense which is inspired by their life experiences, culture and upbringing. My aesthetic sense is inspired by a combination of our Indian heritage, Chinese and Western cultural influences.
Where do you seek inspiration from to design a piece of jewellery?
Different cultures inspire me. I enjoy travelling and have been fortunate to experience multiple cultures. I love to draw out the intricate artistry of Asian cultures along with magnificent medieval as well as Western architectural forms across the world.
For a fairly recent brand of fine jewellery, you have already made a mark for yourself. Tell us the secret of your success. Why did you choose to set up base in India?
I moved to India in 2009 post my marriage and identified a gap in the market for high quality fine jewellery. With a few years of experience in designing and manufacturing, I set up my business with a unique proposition – offer clients in India fresh, intricate designs teamed with Hong Kong-style manufacturing processes.
Tell us about the first ever collection that you designed.
My very first collection was my wedding jewellery trousseau. I designed my own diamond wedding set and other sets filled with emeralds, rubies, sapphires and pearls. I had also designed statement pieces for cocktail parties. The feedback to these designs was positive and encouraging and eventually this led me to take up designing professionally.
How long does it take for you to create a collection – from concept to creation?
Jewellery designing and manufacturing is a very intricate process that requires a lot of creativity and hard work. The first process includes designing and procuring gemstones, and this demands a strong, cohesive team effort. The second process involves highly skilled labourers who set every precious gemstone with surgical precision, and the third process requires stringent quality control to ensure that all processes have been followed and the piece looks and feels like how it was meant to be.
We have over 300 skilled personnel at our jewellery manufacturing facilities ensuring that each process is followed to perfection. On average, it takes about three to six months to create a new collection.
We would like to know more about your latest Eclat collection that features diamonds in Hong Kong-style illusion settings.
Eclat is a special type of illusion setting that originated from Hong Kong. This setting always helps diamonds stay lustrous even after decades, unlike other types of illusion settings. I believe it is the closest illusion setting and the best setting for small- and medium-sized solitaires. I have designed necklaces, tennis bracelets, earrings and rings in this collection. This is my signature collection that consists of jewellery combined with delicate craftsmanship and invisible settings.
Your collections are bold and modern. Who is the woman you design for? Do you do bespoke couture jewels?
I like to design jewellery that is exquisite and very light in weight which is wearable on every occasion. I want every Neha Roongta creation to be enjoyed at brunches, cocktail parties or wedding functions. I have designed my pieces taking into consideration functionality and usability – in short, they should be perfect accessories for our day-to-day lives.
I believe in designing jewellery for women who are jewellery connoisseurs. I strive to create statement pieces for women of today, who are fearless and are out to make a statement in society.
I have had the pleasure and opportunity to curate state-of-the- art pieces for some of India’s leading families. I create one-off designs to suit their personality.
What is currently trending in the Indian jewellery market in terms of design motifs, and gemstones, diamonds in terms of cuts, colour?
Indian women have turned more cosmopolitan by developing cross-cultural tastes. In metro cities, most women prefer statement pieces featuring illusion-set diamonds – these always work as they look expensive but are available at reasonable prices.
Is an Indian millennial interested in buying jewellery? What does she seek – prêt or high-end?
Indian millennials are interested in buying jewellery that is modular. They seek and appreciate jewellery pieces that could be worn on multiple occasions – both work and social. Therefore, jewellery that is minimalistic and classy.
If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you be?
I would have been a doctor since Biology and Chemistry were my favourite subjects. I was always intrigued by science.
I am the mother of two children. My topmost priority is to give them an upbringing with national pride and international understanding making them responsible citizens of this wonderful country.
18-karat rose and white gold ring embellished with rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds.
The curvaceous gold bracelet is set with large baguette diamonds from the Eclat collection.
The 18-karat white gold necklace and ring are set with sapphires and diamonds.
The gold ear studs from the Blossom collection are decorated with layers of tapered baguette diamonds and emeralds.