JEWELRY DESIGNER TO WATCH: SALLY AGARWAL
“Diamonds will always be a magical window facing the invisible world.” Benjamin Zucker
I am always fascinated by jewellery and diamonds, especially those with Indian heritage. Last week, I was invited to VICKISARGE boutique on London’s hidden Elizabeth Street to discover Sally Agarwal Fine Jewellery collection. With a jewellery blogger’s eye for diamonds I picked out my favourite piece from the collection on display. Among the jewels that I was presented with, the one that I adored the most was Celestial Earclips set with Polki diamonds, all set in yellow gold and very organic in feel. These earclips are inspired by an Indian night sky and portray the depth of character unique to Polki diamonds.
Sally Agarwal is not your usual diamond brand. Her designs reference heritage jewellery, yet they are interpreted with a modern touch. No two Polki stones are alike – and this singular quality evokes the spirit of individuality. These natural diamonds are mined from the earth and have been prized in their uncut form for centuries! I also came to learn more about the style and craftsmanship behind the brand. Here, we interviewed Sally herself for GEMOLOGUE…
Sally spent years investigating the history of diamonds in India. The first recorded reference of diamond jewellery appeared in The Arthashastra, or The Lesson of Power. This ancient Sanskrit treatise dates to 296 BCE. Because diamonds were originally associated with divinity, the earliest diamond jewels festooned religious icons. Diamonds were also symbolically associated with good fortune and were believed to be imbued with special power. The ownership of diamonds was therefor regulated and determined by India’s ancient class structure, or caste system. The caste system dictated that grey or black diamonds were for the lower classes while a ruling king could possess diamonds of every hue. Crafting fine jewels from uncut diamonds, known as Polki and Vilandi, originated during the Mughal Empire!
When was your brand founded and where is it produced?
I launched earlier this year and my jewellery is produced in the UK and Mumbai.
What are the distinguishing traits of your jewels?
The clarity and colour of the polki diamonds are outstanding compared to others that I have come across, and the organic nature of the setting also sets them apart.
With which stones do you like to work with? What is “your way” of evaluating stones?
I like to work with high quality polki that have a limpid white glow when set. Through family connections, I can access an amazing and highly protected source.
What is your earliest memory or experience of jewellery?
My earliest memory of jewellery is my mother’s diamond necklace which I loved to look at as often as I could.
How did you begin working as a jewellery designer?
I was really led into designing when I started finding out more about my family’s business. I was struck by the polki that they were using in India and had never seen anything like it in Europe. I wanted to use these stones in a more contemporary way, with a clean organic setting that celebrated the natural beauty of the stone.
What are you trying to communicate with your jewellery?
I want to convey a relaxed approach to diamonds. There’s an organic feel to these pieces and I want them to be enjoyed as much on the beach with a maxi dress as with a cocktail dress.
Was there ever any option in your mind other than making jewellery for a living?
I am fully committed to my jewellery.
Where do you find your inspiration/influences?
The stones lead the designs not the other way round….that said I can’t help but be influenced by fashion and want my designs to work alongside clothes.
What is the signature piece in your collection?
Probably the stud earrings – they never quite match because the shapes of the stones are always different.
How does work take place in your atelier when you design a new piece/collection?
I sketch at home in the countryside and then go to india to work with the craftsmen who set the jewels and bring your designs to life. I also work with master goldsmiths in the UK.
How much time goes by between the inspiration and the finished product?
Anything from a couple of months to a year.
What must never be forgotten when designing a jewel?
How it feels to be worn – I pay as much attention to the backs as the fronts of the jewels.
Was jewellery always an important part of your style?
Yes but I was in search of something softer and more organic than how diamonds are traditionally set, something more bohemian and unique.
How much do you think one can tell from a woman’s own collection of jewellery?
I think you can tell a lot, how flamboyant they are, how confident, how nostalgic, whether they love to travel etc.
What is the distinction between costume and fine jewellery?
Fine jewellery relates to collections like my own that are designed in 18ct gold and with precious or semi precious stones. Costume jewellery normally relates to other less expensive materials.
GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla.
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