Syna’s success can not only be attributed to their over a decade-long existence in the industry, but also their strong and clear aesthetic that hinges on “keeping it simple”. The creative force of Syna – Namrata and Dharmesh Kothari – are always stripping the design to its core to imbue their jewellery with a refreshing take. “We want to show the heart out instantly, and in its purest form, without losing its inherent character,” says Dharmesh. Each of Syna’s pieces has a little story, a little fragment of historical design and culture – all modernised to work timelessly.
Dharmesh Kothari talks about their love for coloured stones, travels and design philosophy.
By SMITHA SADANANDAN
This one-of-a-kind agate evoking the stark beauty of the Thar desert is framed with finely set champagne diamonds in the 18-karat gold necklace.
Baubles earrings with bezel-set champagne diamonds in 18-karat gold.
(Far right) Crafted in 18-karat gold and embellished with bright champagne diamonds, this gorgeous Ethiopian opal Mughal pendant emanates a radiant glow.
The moon hiding behind those bushes in this rare forest agate pendant features our signature lovebirds shell cameo. Champagne diamonds frame this romantic moment.
A congregation of cool blues inspired by blue pottery of Jaipur—blue sapphire, lapis lazuli and blue chalcedony in these fun, stackable rings are mounted in 18-karat gold and accented with diamonds.
Tell me about your journey. What sparked your love for jewellery?
I come from a family that has been based in construction in Mumbai. I was always seeking to create something on my own. Art and, then, jewellery came naturally to me. But I never gave it any importance; nor did I learn anything formally. I always believed it was something that was very personal and not worth sharing with the world. After years of studying Commerce, Marketing and Retail Management in Mumbai and the UK, followed by various stints at dotcom and market research companies, I found my love for jewellery to be more than what I always thought it to be. Namrata, on the other hand, was born in a family that has been in the emerald and precious gemstone business. She has a degree in jewellery design from The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. It was when we met and knew each other more that we came about this whole idea of creating jewellery as a business.
How did you launch your line?
My first instance of thinking of jewellery as a business was when I saw an aquamarine ring in Singapore during our honeymoon in 2000. I still remember how Namrata had casually mentioned that “we cut these kinds of stones in Jaipur.” I was completely fascinated that we could cut something like this and we had it right there within the family. By the time we reached Mumbai, we were both ready with a plan to launch our company Facets. And we did. We were successful with it, but always felt that we were still very ahead of the times for Mumbai. Syna, which means “together,” is our life’s passion. We took an enormous leap of faith when we moved to the United States and started Syna in 2003. It’s been quite a joyride ever since, with some highs and some lows, and some serious bumps! Our first collections were bought by the big names in the industry. It helped us survive the giant leap we took from India then. Today, Syna is showcased in most high-end retail stores across the US.
Where do you seek inspiration for your creativity?
Inspiration is everywhere. It can be from an old antique in a bazaar, a ritual in a temple, the incredible pathway of a place, or a beautiful petal of a flower. Our travels across the globe give us the opportunity to experience diverse cultures and blend them into our life experiences to create unique ideas. Our vision for Syna is, and will always be, a confluence: the converging influences of our rich Indian heritage, our passion for gemstones, our travel experiences and our design philosophy of keeping it simple.
The 18-karat Bubbles ring brims with champagne diamonds. Turn the ring slightly and you get to see even more diamonds underneath it.
A clutch of iconic 18-karat Baubles rings set with moon quartz, rhodolite garnet and labradorite.
(Centre) There’s nothing more joyous than to see a peacock dancing in the rain! The 18-karat peacock cameo pendant is embellished with blue diamonds and tsavorite.
Handcarved on bone, and hand-painted with natural colours, the one-off 18-karat gold pendant is set with champagne diamonds.
Inspired from Mughal paintings, this handcarved carnelian horse pendant is embellished with champagne diamonds.
Indian roots and life in the West: how do you bridge these for Syna?
There are always little things everywhere that gets us excited and thinking. We love seeing how one inspiration fuses into another all the time. Transforming these little moments of experiences into concrete elements for our brand has always been our method. Coming from a country of diverse cultures, our transition into the Western world has been relatively smooth. This blend is deeply rooted in our designs – classic with a twist of mod.
Both you and Namrata are hugely influenced by culture, art, history and travels. Tell me about a few pieces for which you drew upon travel and cultural nuances.
Most of our pieces are inspired from Mughal ornamentation, especially by their all-pervading presence of geometry, their ingenious use of the arabesque, the preponderance of flowers in ornamentation and the frequent appearance of animals and birds. We have taken intricate traditional Mughal shapes and extracted their purest forms and used them in our collections in simple, modern ways. Our signature and symbol, Mogul, is inspired by intricately latticed windows from Mughal palaces, effortlessly merged into a medallion. Our little signature identifies our roots and our design philosophy. The Mogul drop pendants are the heart of the brand – the outer shape of the earrings is inspired by the traditional red tilak, a Hindu symbol of victory, success and good fortune placed on the forehead. We call them ‘Mogul’ drops as they reflect the larger-than-life sizes (some even go up to over a hundred carats each). These drops celebrate the culmination of Hindu and Mughal art influences in most architecture in India.
What inspires Syna’s new collections, and what sets the brand apart?
We felt we put ourselves in a big colour box earlier and restricted ourselves to limited shapes and making pieces that were mainly coloured gemstone oriented. Over the last few years, we feel we have grown and evolved into experimenting with more materials and shapes than ever before. We’re currently seeing that our oxidized silver and gold versions are extremely successful all across. Our one-of-a-kind pieces with rare carvings and unique stories are also gathering a lot of attention amongst collectors.
Syna’s iconic 18-karat Mogul drops are inspired by the traditional red “tilak”, a Hindu symbol of victory, success and good fortune placed on the forehead. Featured here are amethyst, citrine, lemon quartz, moon quartz, blue topaz and rock crystal drops suspended on vintage leather cords.
The 18-karat Mogul pendant is embellished with bright champagne diamonds on a vintage oxidised silver back. Don’t miss the two gold peacocks on the top, who are completely in love.
Taking little ornate flower elements from Mughal architecture, the 18-karat twine earrings crafted in oxidised silver and 18-karat gold are set with bright champagne diamonds.
Simple, classic and versatile, the love leaf earrings are perfect pieces for gifting. Featured here are the oxidised silver and 18-karat gold earrings set with bright champagne diamonds.
What are the key strengths that each of you draw upon from one another for your work?
I love analysing the numbers and making all kinds of reports to see how we are doing all the time. Namrata is all about completing anything that comes our way right away. She just does not wait. She would be the first one to pick up the phone and the first one to answer anyone who would email for a piece. If a sale is going to happen, we cannot come in between her and the sale at all. That helps us as a company. We’ve been blessed to have a mix – a spontaneous, get-going Namrata and a thinkinganalysing- pondering me. We do have this sublime natural demarcation of work between us at all times. But, we have not really decided our roles, as we both practically do everything in the business together.
I love your cameo pieces. What prompted you to use cameos?
We love cameos mainly because of their clean aesthetic and their neutral colours. Our favourite one is the peacock dancing in the rain. Most of the stones are cut and polished in Jaipur, where you can see peacocks strutting along all the time.
Another cameo that we absolutely like is our lovebirds, especially when you see it placed on that forest agate. The night scene with the shining moon and the lovebirds, all together create a beautiful and unique piece.
What gems have you been playing with lately?
We’ve recently been very inspired by greys and gold. We are currently using a lot of moonstone quartz, labradorite with emeralds and champagne diamonds.