SONALI SHETH, the rising star in the Indian jewellery industry, is a multitalented artist who is serious about her craft. Her fine jewellery collections, sold under the brand Sphere, are well researched and stand out because of their simple and elegant forms. A person with varied interests ranging from travel, history to music, dance and more, her jewellery, too, reflects the same versatility and verve. Each collection is an interesting blend of new-age techniques married with ancient handicrafts. The harmonious synthesis gives a stylish spin to her modern-day creations.
Did the world of jewellery designing choose you or did you opt for it voluntarily?
I think some things are just destined to be. I grew up watching my father assort diamonds as he was a diamond manufacturer for some of the biggest names in the industry in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
I was a science student and quite good in academics, and even though I loved maths and science, I was equally fond of arts and literature. After my 12th exam, I chose to enrol for a course in jewellery designing and manufacturing that had been recently introduced in S.N.D.T. College, Mumbai. The trainers then were from the UK.
One year into the course, I realised this was my calling. My multiple interests and skills were utilised in this field – passion for art and design, keen interest in science and technology, materials and manufacturing, a good hand at crafts, drive for perfection and finesse, love for fashion, advertising and marketing, and a strong urge to write and express – everything seemed to come together.
What was your next move after S.N.D.T.?
I’m a workaholic and a lifelong learner. I then learnt gemmology, jewellery repair and CAD/CAM at GIA, Carlsbad. I also graduated in Psychology and History from Mumbai University. I also have a Postgraduate certificate in Digital Marketing by MICA and Upgrad, and I recently completed the Crafting Luxury and Lifestyle Businesses Programme at IIM Ahmedabad. I regularly keep updating myself about the latest software and techniques as well.
What prompted you to name your brand Sphere?
It was a conscious decision. I refrained from using my name because I felt that my brand had to be a lot bigger than me. Also, designing is a team effort that goes into creating these beautiful jewels. One is the natural beauty of the diamonds and gemstones that are used in the jewels, then it’s also the skill of our craftspersons and the efforts of our team together with my vision that help manifest ideas into these wonderful objects of desire. I just felt that I can’t possibly take the entire credit.
What inspires you to turn to your Indian moorings for your creations?
We are a culturally rich country. The vibrant imagery that we are surrounded with – be it the marble carvings of the Jain temples of Dilwara or the detailed stone inlay work of the Taj Mahal or even something as basic as the beautiful patterns and colours of the Indian saree – it’s impossible not to be inspired by India and its indigenous crafts.
Your jewellery is full of intricate details and is influenced by your travels.
You guessed it right. Inspiration for me is a feeling, an emotion. It’s like I’ve experienced all these wonderful sights and sounds and I wish to make them my own. I want to give it form in my own design language. There’s a strong inner urge to create something beyond what I experience, and it’s my own way of reliving those memories and presenting creations.
What is your design philosophy?
My designs are generally simple with clean lines and bold forms. Emotions like love and belongingness are a common thread that binds all the themes that I work on. There’s a certain flow, a certain rhythm, a certain feel in all my designs. My designs carry a little bit of me in them.
Design and craftsmanship are the two main pillars on which we have built our brand. It’s almost a religion at Sphere to strive for excellence in both these areas. And I think what also sets us apart are our innovative design concepts and the way we handle the bespoke requirements of our clients; they know that we will listen and go that extra mile to create something special. That’s the reason we have a very good retention rate of customers.
What according to you is the prime function of jewellery?
An ornament is an extension of one’s personality. It could represent one of the best moments in a person’s life. When it’s created with a deep meaning or a story, it gets a life of its own that resonates with the person who can appreciate it and would therefore take the effort to own it.
Are your pieces handcrafted?
We use a lot of traditional techniques, alongside some of the most modern technology of jewellery fabrication. It could take a few days or even months to make a particular piece based on the kind of work it demands. A piece requires multiple skills and processes – hence it’s a challenge to keep the costs and finances in place in a bid to be creative and innovative all the time.
Any parting thoughts?
I think the best part about doing what I do is that I get to be a part of some of the most beautiful and important moments of people’s lives. When someone wears my jewellery and they get compliments – and they share their joy with me – that’s my biggest reward.