Poetry in jewellery

Crafting beauty
Last Updated 16 March 2013, 14:40 IST

Pallavi Foley’s jewellery design studio subtly beckons one in, with its mere aura of avant-garde art. It is rare, if not impossible, that one may come across a piece of jewellery that goes beyond aesthetics. But Pallavi’s studio teems with versatile neckpieces, earpieces and bracelets, each of which has inspirations and layers waiting to be interpreted.

As with several aspirants, Pallavi too began her career with a degree in Accessory Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi. What set her apart though was her artistic bent of mind, amid a largely aesthetics-driven fashion community.

Solid start

Immediately after earning a degree, she landed herself a job in one of the country’s leading jewellery brands, where she worked as a jewellery designer for almost 10 years. “It was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” she says, earnestly. “My break with them took me places and even gave me the honour of designing the crowns for Miss India Earth and Miss India Universe contests. I wanted these crowns to reflect their titles. I was ever so inspired; I took a cue from none other than our national bird, the peacock, for Earth title, and our galaxy for the Universe title.”

Indeed, the Miss India Earth crown is similar to a peacock’s feathers, with blue and green stones flowing. The small trinket in the middle of this crown looks somewhat like a bindi or an extension of a matha patti, and Pallavi confirms that she had added it there to give it the traditional Indian touch.

Pallavi takes it upon herself to ensure that all her jewellery is moulded to perfection right from its conception to its making. Indeed, so intent is she on the intricacies of her art that she travels across the country, and abroad, in search of inspirations and new art forms. “For one particular collection, I actually worked with the craftsmen in Bidar. I loved working with them. Making jewellery was like fingers’ play for them — they had such mastery over the craft, and such traditional ways of designing,” she says.

Ultimately, what went into the collection was a neckpiece with precious stones for the chain, and a very humble and ordinary Bidri stone for a pendant. The centrepiece or the pendant, which is the most important part of the neckpiece, is a very humble stone, not a precious one. In fact, the Bidri stone is made only in Bidar. For it is a unique, cast metalware technique, moulded from blackened alloy of zinc and copper, inlaid with thin sheets of pure silver, which is exclusive to the Bidar district of Karnataka, since the 14th century.

With that, Pallavi established that it is not about the preciousness of the stones, but about the preciousness of the craft itself. It certainly is a tribute to jewellery artisans. ‘The Indian Street’ is perhaps the most eclectic of all her neckpieces. “This is my most favourite one because it has all the classic symbols that a foreigner would relate India with,” she says, enthusiastically. Indeed, the neckpiece has 11 charms, each of which is an embodiment of Indian history and tradition: Red chilli — to ward off evil; Taj Mahal — a symbol of love and India; Sone Ki Chidia (Golden Bird) — symbol of India’s potential; Indian flag — depicting what India stands for; Welcome Bombay sign — a colloquial way of welcoming tourists, as seen on autos in Mumbai, Peacock feather — symbolic of our country’s beauty; Maharaja’s head — symbol of Indian royalty, Sun motif — depicting Surya, the Sun God; earthen pot — symbol of our agricultural economy; elephant — that stands for India’s strength, and Om — symbol of our secular nation. It isn’t just a necklace, it is a historical narration in jewellery. So, it is no surprise that this piece of jewellery added to Pallavi’s list of awards.

One of the most interesting aspects of her jewellery is that every single piece is either three-dimensional or has intricate layers to it; not a single piece is flat. Even the locking systems for her neckpieces are unique. She designs all the locks on the front, unlike most neckpieces whose locks are on the back. These locks are designed with such detail that they blend in easily with the rest of the neckpiece, and one cannot tell the lock from the chain.

Needless to say, with her avant garde jewellery that is steeped in inspirations of sorts, Pallavi is a designer who transcends mere fashionable skills and enters a mystique level of artisanship. But beyond all else, her jewellery is a testament of poetic narration. If there was wearable metaphysical poetry, Pallavi’s jewellery would be it.

(Published 16 March 2013, 14:35 IST)

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