Six Jewellery Designers You Must Know in 2023
Take a closer look at these Indian-origin designers making a mark globally, while staying rooted in tradition.By Smitha Sadanandan |
AARYAH by Megan Kothari
“I grew up across the Hudson River in Northern New Jersey and then moved to New York City to study international trade and brand marketing at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). After graduating, I ended up in the beauty space, doing brand marketing for L’Oréal and Estee Lauder. After a few years in that space, I ultimately felt called to honour my love and admiration for jewellery craftsmanship, particularly the traditional craftsmanship of Gujarati tribal jewellery that I would see on my visits to India with my family. I knew jewellery was something I had a natural penchant for and something that would fulfil me, and thus, Aaryah was born a few years ago. The aesthetic started off in a different universe – custom nameplates; they are still such an integral part of the brand’s identity and mission.
As the brand evolved, I discovered my calling was truly in bridal – I started designing custom engagement rings during the pandemic and when I finally launched the bridal collection that was a true reflection of my personal aesthetic, I was able to share my unique point of view on how I’d do bridal. I am deeply inspired by the earth: the elements, people and culture. I hope to create engagement rings and bridal pieces that put women’s voices first. In 2020, I focused my energy into unique diamond engagement rings – I love working closely with couples to translate their vision into a tangible manifestation of their story. I’m all about twisting the traditional in new ways and alternative cuts and designs, I feel, lend themselves so beautifully and naturally to the celebration of each client’s unique journey. I’m so proud of where the brand is and I’m so excited to keep evolving. I am working on the next bridal collection – it’s really exciting. I will also be launching the mini zodiac collection ‘For Him and Her’ in both gold and black tones.”
Sethi Couture by Pratima Sethi & Prerna Sethi
Pratima – I worked in IT consulting and part of the Silicon Valley start-up world. Upon leaving IT, I went to grad school to get my MBA at USC Marshall School of Business. Leading up to my stint at LVMH, I had worked alongside my parents learning about the diamonds they sourced. I began to dream about using the same diamonds I grew up admiring for a fine jewellery collection that honoured our heritage while elevating the everyday. Finally, one day, I made the leap and worked on my first collection.
Prerna – I majored in architecture and started my career in apparel and merchandising. Pratima made me my first pink diamond stacking ring after a promotion at work. When my co-workers asked me about the ring, I told them Sethi Couture. I knew Pratima was on to something with the stacking ring. So, I started helping her at tradeshows – and finally, one day, I quit my corporate job to join her.
“We grew up learning about diamonds at an early age. Our mother immigrated to the US only to find herself in need of creating a new identity. With that after a few different career paths, she set out on her own to start her own company importing textiles, silver souvenirs such as intricate tea pots. Eventually, they set up a diamond company, Manak – they found a niche to set them apart from the rest of the diamond companies and so they sourced the rarest, most unusual diamonds ranging from pinks, blues and greens to vintage cuts. Our brand continues to evolve, as we continue to be inspired by different things. However, our brand DNA stays true to who we are and what we represent. Our designs aesthetics continue to represent old meets new. What we are doing different now is being much more intentional in every piece we design and the story behind each piece. We love how the intricacies of our bands and the range, from classic to edgy, allows every woman to participate in stacking and tell her story.
Stacking rings for us is a moment of empowerment. Our bangles share the same philosophy of our stacking bands – creating combinations that are personal to your style. Mixing and matching with existing bangles you may already have. The PS collection has engravable charms; it started with the first ones made for Pratima with her children’s initials and birthdates on them. We used to make our pieces in white and rose gold, but in the last few years, yellow gold has been extremely popular with our collection. We use natural diamonds in pink, golden yellow, olive green, burnt orange, champagne and cognac. Our factory in India is family owned and run, which adds to another layer of heritage and being connected to our roots.”
Bhansali by Anar Bhansali
“As a young girl, I grew up going to my father’s office and playing with small diamonds in his safe. He always involved me in the design process, while my mom encouraged me to explore my passions in art and design. I launched Bhansali with my brother in 2014, in Los Angeles. Our debut collection featured diamonds inlaid into custom-cut gemstones. I had first learned about the art of inlay through my father’s jewellery collections (for his brand La Reina) and I wanted to translate that technique into wearable luxury – easy-to-wear pieces. I think my style can be described as both elegant and regal. Heritage really felt like an exploration of my identity as an American-born Indian – it is an introspective collection about belonging and creating our own identities. I looked to Indian architecture as my inspiration. Heritage has been received well – it is the collection that Bergdorf Goodman featured for our trunk show in New York – and the One collection continues to be our best-seller.
My inspiration comes from various places but is most influenced by whatever is going on in my life at that particular time. As I get older, my perspectives continue to change. I care less about trying to prove myself as a “real designer” and I care more about having more fun with the designs and enjoying the process. I love experimenting with different price points and materials. I use G colour natural diamonds in all my pieces and try to use different gemstones and materials in all my collections. Couture is a high-end collection that I designed with my father, Samir Bhansali, who is an award-winning designer – and we continue to make pieces with sliced diamonds, special cuts and materials. My pieces are all made with small, generational family-run ateliers in India and Thailand. I love working with our workshops. It’s both important to me that not only are they capable of producing high-quality craftsmanship but are also all certified with the Responsible Jewellery Council.”
MANSI JEWELRY by Mansi Pandya
“I grew up in the United States (Jersey to be exact!) but my family is from India. Both of my parents worked in the jewellery industry and often travelled to India for work, and I spent most of my summer vacations in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. I’d say my culture is really important to me because of how different the two worlds were. Growing up, I was pretty shy; I would express myself through drawing, painting and writing. I guess you can say my interest in creativity started from there. I’d often visit my family at work or see the things they were working on when they brought it home – and all of that made a huge impression on me. My parents wear jewellery a lot and for them, the pieces have always been sentimental. This made me grow up wearing meaningful pieces and I wanted to make something similar as well. I attended GIA to study diamond grading and gem identification.
By creating my own brand in April 2020, I wanted to have freedom of expression. I wanted to create everyday fine jewellery, but with more elegance and style. I created some designs to test out the market alongside a ‘soft debut.’ I then launched my signature collections – The Origins of Art, inspired by geometric shapes, and Euphoria, inspired by an emotion – based on heartfelt happiness and nostalgia, later in the year. The vibrant Gem Drop line, launched the following year, was inspired by the colours of Indian festivals and their liveliness. I mostly get inspired by shapes and emotions. All the natural diamonds and gems are sourced in India, but I wanted to make the jewellery in India too and wanted to highlight that artisans in India can also create fine jewellery of high standards. I’m excited about expand my bridal collection; I’m working on new wedding bands that double up as fashion rings, as well as an emerald and diamond collections influenced by geometric shapes.”
K&CO by Karina Choudhrie
“I was born in India and raised in Dubai, where I had an idyllic childhood. Throughout my childhood, jewellery remained significant. Every year, during Diwali, my father gifted me and my sister beautiful pieces of jewellery. Every summer, we would visit my grandparents in India; I have vivid memories of my mother getting important pieces of jewellery made for herself. Jewellery always held a particularly important place for us culturally. After a degree in finance in San Diego, California, I worked for a private jeweller in Rodeo, Beverly Hills. In the meantime, I studied gemmology at GIA. I then moved back to Dubai to start my own brand – K&Co.
In 2008, I held my first private jewellery event in Abu Dhabi, a private buyer for one of the Arab royalties ended up buying a beautiful Basra pearl sautoir – and one connection led to the other. Soon, I found myself making bespoke pieces for special clients in the Middle East. The business had its difficulties and having children along the way was challenging at times. Jewellery has always been a part of me and I decided to re-launch my brand and its spirit. I wanted to continue designing my high jewellery pieces – empowering women with bold designs. I launched a high jewellery collection, Valtameri – a love letter to the oceans. In 2019, I designed fine jewellery pieces, upon special request from my clients and that led to Vitamin Pink, a line that embodies the spirit of K&CO. My clients wanted stackable pieces and I decided to switch from green gems to shades of pink – it aligns with my brand’s new identity, colour and represents the distinct phases in a woman’s life. K&CO Icon is an homage to London: the city is a big source of my inspiration. Our pieces are made in workshops in Valenza, Jaipur and Dubai depending on the skill set. We make all our pieces in rose gold with secret pink sapphires accented on the sides. My alphabet series will be out soon and can be personalised. Next year, I plan to launch the K&CO mini jewels for children.”
AS by Akansha Sethi
“My parents’ burgeoning art collection had exposed me to the world of art and design from an early age. My interest in jewellery was also sparked from visiting antique and exclusive art shows during my childhood – and I often expressed my ideas through paintings and graphite sketches. A fine art background, followed by a design degree from the Goldsmiths University of London allowed me to visualise my ideas through a range of mediums. Over time, I had accumulated a wide range of design ideas and felt the urge to realise them. I felt that my designs could address a gap in the market, and they did.
I seek inspiration from my travels and by studying art movements, which have shaped my understanding of design. The jewellery collections are a tangible set of objects, which relate to a specific moment or experience in my life: my Deco collection, for instance, consists of transformable pieces inspired by my favourite art deco artists and paintings. I felt that the brand had grown over the few years and noticed that the demand from my clients had shifted from gold vermeil to solid gold, I launched my first fine jewellery line – Clouds in 14k and 18k gold in 2020. For my high jewellery line, Jaipur, launched this summer, I sought inspiration from the City Palace in Jaipur, its opulent patterns and unique colour combinations. I use natural diamonds to accent my coloured gem compositions: I love to use diamonds as an essence of sparkle. The AS pieces are handcrafted in Jaipur, which is why I have chosen to focus on two key skills: hand carved stones and hand painted enamel work. My jewellery is designed to show how both these techniques can be used with contemporary designs and convey a narrative.”