Among the countless designers in the jewellery universe, here are some names that are gaining fame quickly. BY SHANOO BIJLANI
Futurology by Garema Nagpal is a new brand that is creating a buzz in the jewellery world. Her curiosity to learn things made Garema take up different courses. She is a trained jewellery designer, a professional cordon bleu chef, and an international fitness instructor! Recently, she launched Futurology, an eclectic collection of handpicked, limited edition pieces that embrace global aesthetics that blur the cultural and geographical boundaries.
You have been involved in varied creative pursuits – from jewellery designing to being a fitness instructor and a professional chef. Tell us how and when you started designing jewellery?
I graduated in 1997 with a degree in Economics. Soon, I had an early marriage. My husband had done his Master’s in software design from America and so, he encouraged me to study web design. I started running a gift-shopping website called ‘Say You Care’ for NRI clients.
Living among the high-income group, mainly Punjabi-Marwari society, I understood their likes and that jewellery is a form of luxury, personal style, and security for women of all ages. I took up a jewellery design course when I was pregnant with my first baby in 2001.
Give us some background about yourself; your education; and how you ended up doing so many different courses?
I come from a background where most women are homemakers and men work in industrial set-ups. I was an achiever since my schooldays – I was the head prefect in my primary and senior school. I also won a scholarship in maths in the primary section, and later, I won the most impressive performer on stage and got crowned in the school beauty contest. Being an achiever is an addiction. So even after I got married at 21, I went on to do many courses in website design, culinary arts, professional make-up, spinning instructor training and of course, jewellery designing. I like to learn and evolve on a personal level.
When did you launch Garema N and why? You initially began with polki and diamond jewellery, but your present collection is avant-garde and has quirky motifs. How did this come about?
Since I had small children and a house to run, I could not have worked full-time. I kept giving classes from home on salad-making and make-up and used to design jewellery for private clients. In 2008, I applied for Bridal Asia and they asked me for a product shoot and I had no idea how it’s done so I gave up. After a few years, I was approached to host events for some designers, stores, hotels, luxury cars and art. I learnt a lot about different things, people, business, branding, aesthetics, lifestyles, etc. I finally launched my label Garema N using traditional materials with a contemporary sensibility. At this stage I am selling only in India. I want to create a niche here before I step into the international market.
What’s the USP of your brand?
It is futuristic and impactful costume jewellery. I would like to call it wearable modern art.
Tell us about your collections and the inspiration that leads you to develop them.
We have two different collections. One is the classic Italian line, and the second is a more funky collection that has references from different cultures of the world.
I create pieces which are large and effective that can be worn with both Indian and western garments. I try to create edgy but luxurious pieces. I don’t use many gemstones, but do experiment with different base metals, acrylic, leather and mirror. I’m currently working on a new line with palm rings, armlets, and ear cuffs.
So, who wears Futurology jewellery?
Anyone who is between 20 and 50 years of age… a woman who has an evolved sense of style.
If there is one thing that has sealed Komal Ashtekar Hazare and Meenakshi Joshi’s childhood friendship, it is jewellery. The dynamic duo behind the brand Zevadhi offers a diverse range of jewellery featuring traditional templates as well as modern motifs abounding in diamonds and lustrous gemstones. The pieces are bold, youthful, and individualistic, and use a mix of the three imperial stones along with corals, aquamarines, opals, and more.
You have a 20-year-old association. Were you classmates?
KOMAL: Meenakshi and I have grown up together and are neighbours, so we go back a long way. Even as children we enjoyed doing everything together from studying to our shopping. Being besties, we always wanted to start a venture. One day, I shared with Meenakshi my plans of opening a fine jewellery line. Meenakshi being an artist and jewellery lover herself took an immediate liking to the venture and that’s how Zevadhi was born. Although both of us are from Pune, we have a base in Mumbai. We work by appointment only to ensure that every client gets our personal attention, as it is very important for the kind of work we do to understand our clients and their tastes, which culminates in complete customer satisfaction.
When did you establish your brand? Do you market only in India or do you sell abroad as well?
KOMAL: After launching the brand in Delhi, we did an event in Pune. We are definitely looking to expand not only in India but abroad as well. Indian culture helps to break barriers and our traditional jewellery is being appreciated all over.
Why did you think of designing jewellery?
KOMAL: I happen to be a fifth-generation jeweller from the Ashtekar family, which runs an eponymous jewellery brand in Pune. I had always hoped to take my forefather’s legacy ahead, and this led me to take up a diamond grading course in the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). My endeavour was to create a world of fine jewellery for the woman of today. I would say that my liking for the jewellery business came from watching my zealous father at work. I hope to carve a niche through my dedication to my designs.
MEENAKSHI: We both were surrounded by jewellery all our lives. For Komal, it was her family business and by virtue of being her best friend, I too got influenced. As kids, we would always go to her dad’s store to pass time. From then on, jewellery was an integral part of our lives. It was a childhood dream of ours to do something together. So when Komal came up with the idea of starting a new creative line in jewellery besides what her father does, it was an instant yes from me. I’m a History graduate and wanted to be a collector of art. I also studied jewellery designing as it was another creative field I’d have chosen, if not painting.
Tell us about your different collections?
KOMAL: We have three very diverse collections – the Tamniya captures the essence of the Moghul and the Rajput era through the use of polkis, emeralds, pearls and rubies; the Lustre collection is sophisticated and incorporates sleek designs with fancy-cut diamonds contrasted with precious stones; and the Concoction collection is an eclectic mix of conventional and contemporary templates.
Sangeeta Boochra, who retails her eponymous brand at Silver Centrre, Mumbai, reminisces about the journey that led her to pick silver as her favourite medium for jewellery. Today, her clients include Bollywood stars, celebrities and royalty among others.
When did you start designing jewellery for your father-in-law’s company?
It all started in the year 1994 when I visited our office one day. There, I designed a piece of jewellery using emeralds and rubies. The next day, a client walked in and placed a huge order for that piece. That was my first step as a designer and I joined Silver Centrre as creative director. I have recently launched my eponymous label and sell statement pieces in gold and diamond jewellery.
I’d definitely like to credit my father-in-law Seth Lalit Kumar Boochra for what I have achieved today. He encouraged me to pursue my love for designing. At the time when I got married, women, in general, weren’t encouraged to work. But he guided and encouraged me to go ahead, and shared his experience as a jeweller.
Are you a trained designer?
No. As a child, I was more inclined towards garment and apparel designing and thus went to a design school for my graduation; but after getting married into a jeweller’s family, I put my designing skills into crafting jewellery.
Do you market only in India or do you sell abroad as well?
We sell worldwide, including Dubai, Japan, Singapore, London, USA, Sri Lanka, Italy, Hong Kong, Bangkok, China, Switzerland, Germany and Spain among others.
What’s the philosophy of your brand?
We believe in the code of trust and sell genuine jewellery with fine purity. We do not engage child labour and use environment-friendly procedures.
What inspires you the most?
Designs are generally inspired by travels to the remotest regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat or the tribal and southern regions. The diverse brand consists of vintage, tribal, gold-plated, stone-studded, and temple jewellery. We also have contemporary pieces and some that celebrate new-age minimalism.
Do you love to travel?
Yes, I am always on the move. Rajasthan, in particular, inspires me the most – its diversity in art forms, crafts and rich heritage, the forts and palaces, carvings are fascinating. Tribal art is my other weakness.
What are the gemstones you use in the collections?
We use only genuine gemstones from our factory. We generally veer towards emeralds, rubies, sapphires, turquoise, green and red onyx, lapis lazuli, amethyst, citrine, tourmaline and aquamarine.
What is trending in silver today?
Currently, big baalis, jhumkas, long necklaces studded with colour gemstones, particularly turquoise, are popular.
How often do you introduce your collections?
We make 15 new designs daily, and a new collection is born every 10 days!