Creating The Jewelry Project: Philosophy, Design and Process
1. How do you describe your Jewelry and your design process?
We make jewelry that is handcrafted, in silver and gold with natural precious and semi precious stones in metal smiting skill sets that are rooted in Indian craft traditions and extended techniques we adapt from here. We are a collective under the trademark THE JEWELRY PROJECT. Our jewelry moves beyond just being an ornament and is crafted with an understanding of the larger principles of design. Being conscious to the environment within us and towards external nature spaces is an integral part of the making process and design practice. . It is what may be defined in recent times as slow fashion. We are in constant vigilance of our everyday lives and try to retain a happy balance as we create bespoke jewelry stories for retail and custom craft pieces, heirlooms and gift stories for clients.
I penned this philosophy at my first showcase in Dec 2006. It holds forth in my everyday practice, in a rapidly changing world.
Guided by our calling to make work play and play work, the designers and craftsmen @ our nature studio create jewels from nature’s bounty. We are fond of discovery and adventure and as we wander landscapes through our footsteps and our minds eye, we have found that being conscious to people and the environment brings the better into design.
We work in precious metals and natural gemstones and craft with our hands. We are inspired by the stories of time and seek to learn from its constant change.
We work to preserve ancient metal craft skills, empower young craftsmen, train women to make jewels and build bridges using the language of design. The true conscience of art and fashion is in its embrace of sustainable luxury and in this world our footprints tell stories in global consciousness.
2. What would you consider your design inspiration?
India- This country has always been my inspiration. My muse. The ancient civilization holds so many stories, techniques, skills and beauty. Interpreting understanding and applying this to my practice is a joy.
Design practice and process
The Hampi Collection-. For the longest time especially since we got familiar with process driven and casted jewelry in factories Indian jewelry has looked the same. There has been not much work in attempting to find a neo Indian language of design.
I spent some time in Hampi photographing and drawing the lotus symbols one could recognize on the temple walls.
We converted these into beads on our return to the studio and began the first draft of our Hampi collection.
I revisit this collection constantly to expand on the possibilities of design and handcraft.
Indian architecture inspires me.
When I did my first showing in 2006 Dec, I was only able to create 24 pieces using this technique as the craftsperson in Karimnagar didn’t think the idea of jewelry was worth his time.
In pity he made for me multiples of two flower designs and two bead designs as I spent two days with him. This translated into my first collection of filigree which sold out on day 1 of the show and I called him back with orders.
Today the chief craftsperson works with us and we have an extensive range of design work in this technique.
So technique inspires design.
In recent times there has been a lot of debate and unfolding of the roles of gender in society. Our Tantra collection draws inspiration from the cosmic union of masculine and feminine principles from the yogic practice as we find integration in healing this disparity.
So geometric symbols that represent the sacred feminine and masculine find play in contemporary earrings, bangles, chokers, etc.
I respond to my environment in design, for a better world.
Textured forms of old two paisa and five paisa coins find layers in necklaces and earrings in our beaten coin collection embellished with rubies emeralds and sapphires.
We have mastered the craft of making South Indian temple dancer jewelry in silver. Here I take inspiration from traditional designs of south Indian royalty. Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma in his constant representation of parrots swans elephants in his renderings and also from drawings I find in books of royal mangalsutras The forms are contemporary again and I revisit this collection every season to add a new layer.
We also combine techniques, filigree with temple, filigree with beaten, temple tree of life pendants, mantra engraving on bangles,
...always looking for an aesthetic that works. That speaks.
Our jewelry is for the everyday and also for occasions. We craft all these collections and ideas in 18 and 22 kt gold and in sterling silver.
We offer a service of crafting bespoke jewelry for our clients. In my practice, I have crafted bangles with Rumi quotes, Lord of the rings inspired jewelry, Jewelry sculptures for milestones birthdays, Hair pieces. Rings and pendants in gold and silver. That is personal and private. Meant for the one who wears or gifts.
It’s elegant, well made, with a great design balance and refreshing.
I also let form and color of natural gemstones guide me. At our store one will find jewels with their own stories.
Our nature collection .A representation of the animal and plant kingdoms on metal find literal images on stones like lapis lazuli and turquoise and in plain metal.
Right now I am working deeply with the symbolism of the lotus across cultures and ideas. Appropriating symbols is very common place and confusing to the thought process.
So have explored the lotus in telling stories of earth water air fire and ether.
Earth in Hampi, water in dragonflies in lotus ponds, air in earrings that are light to wear where the lotus is created using the stamping technique and negative space for air to pass through, lotus as fire inspired by the mythical animals in the paintings of Ravi Verma and ether in tantra.
All these inspired by the lotus.
We also have an easy everyday line.
So this is my design process and have been practicing for a decade. We have about 47 collections that tell stories.
Today we have a large design bank that allows me to explore what may be defined as Neo Indian jewelry. That responds to the changing times, Can be worn everyday and is rooted in Indian culture ideologies and symbols.
So yes we are creating a new grammar of ornament in design and I hope that the work will guide the practice and continue to show the way into the future.
3. You have been crafting with concise practices for over a decade, What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability- is a life practice and commitment we must make to ourselves as designers for a better future on this planet.
I am not saying that we must not grow. But in the last few decades humanity has all become about the big numbers, Corporations and Technology apps. We seem to want to make the human skill redundant in our need to grow big and be the best.
This has created much damage especially to people and the environment, polluting ourselves and the world we live in.
The future will be about small economies, working in a sustainable practice and culture driven.
Craft and handmade cannot be mass produced. Local and sustainable is India Modern. Our jewelry has found homes and hearts across the planet and it always is a pleasure to know that people with a conscious lifestyle seek out our work.
I also understand that jewelry was worn more for healing purposes and not just for the value of metal and gemstones. So in my work I bring these ideas together.
It is a pursuit of beauty; it is also the pursuit of a good life for all involved. Our team has been together for a decade, our growth has been organic and supported by an ever expanding global clientele.
I give gratitude that I am able to see an idea that seeded in design school take shape and form, to grow into The Jewelry Project as it is known today.