Featured Designer: Ahalya

Ahalya – the Creative Head of Rasvihar (Jewellery for Life) & Sarangi (the Kanjivaram Sari Store) recently launched Cleosara – a fresh, new and completely different looking brand of Sterling Silver jewelry using natural gemstones. We caught up with Ahalya to know more about her passion for jewellery making and her thoughts on people, design and more…

1. Can you tell us something about yourself?

I grew up surrounded by a lot of artistic influences – I am trained in dance and I’ve always loved watching things being made. I am a big fan of beauty – in any form: art, interiors, furniture, jewellry. I am a believer in the merger of form and function and endeavour to always incorporate this belief in my work.

2.  When did you start designing?

Although I have stayed and worked with artists of different kinds, I really started designing as a professional about 8 or 9 years ago. However, before that my training and studies in Arts in a traditional way and my early influences have somehow stayed right with me and culminated in my choice to become a designer.

3.  Did you ever dream or think of being something else other than a Designer?

My childhood ambitions have ranged from wanting to be a Veterinary Doctor to a Make up Artist ! To this day, I am an animal – lover and I do still have great passion for ensuring visual presentation of a person is well done and make up is a big part of that. Becoming a jewellery designer has been an evolution for me – an evolution that has somehow combined many of the early influences in my life. It was not really an idea that I had decided early on or in my childhood.

Salma: Silver Dangling Earrings set with Mariam Disc Stone

4.  Is there any specific reason you chose jewellery designing over other areas of design?

I have always loved beautiful things. But my love for creating jewellery is what I find most fulfilling. I really love seeing how people use jewellery and I think the process of creating a piece of jewellery – starting from conceptualising it, visualising it on someone and then designing it on paper and then seeing it getting crafted into reality is what I find very fulfilling.

5. After developing a fine jewellery brand like Rasvihar, what prompted you to develop a silver jewelry line like Cleosara?
Traditionally a lot of silver jewelry from here looks ethnic. While I love traditional jewellery forms, I’ve long perceived a gap area in the silver jewelry available. I wanted to create a line of jewelry that is neither vintage nor futuristic but is bold, colourful, fuss-free and will be relevant for women in a contemporary social setting and can be worn anywhere in the world.  Working with sterling silver and natural gemstones in the Cleosara line has been great to create that look for every day smart casual dressing.

6. What is your favourite colour or theme?

Personally I love gold and silver, white and pink. But the best part of my work is that I can keep changing my favourites although I am sure these four elements do influence my design work at some level.

7. What/Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?

People and the way they wear their jewelry and also how social norms of presenting oneself keep constantly changing. This is what inspires me.

8. Who is your Number One fan?

I feel really blessed and fortunate when people love or appreciate my work. There are several people ranging from close family, colleagues or even clients whose love for my work makes me happy. I really don’t think it would be fair to just pick one person because they all mean so much to me.

9. What are the best aspects of your work that you enjoy the most?

For me it is clearly two fold and both somehow relate to the people I get to meet and interact with in my line of work.

Firstly, as a person designing jewelery – I get to see how the people it is designed for actually wear it and how it influences the way they present themselves to others in a social sense. In that context, you relate to these persons in a very different and special way. Finding my work becoming an important part of someone’s life is really a great motivating aspect of my work.

Secondly, I truly enjoy working with some of the best talent in craftsmanship who are so passionate and committed to their craft and their work. Some of them are so enterprising and rooted in their work that it is inspiring to work with them. It is also about keeping alive some of our best traditional crafts albeit in a very contemporary and relevant context.

10. What do you consider the biggest challenge you face today related to your work or design in general?

The biggest challenge is to reach out to the right set of people or audience for a particular line or design I have developed. It is really about getting more people to accept my design philosophy and aesthetic sense for their own.

Another aspect is that culturally, here in India we are so used to things being made by hand that at some level we don’t always recognise or appreciate the effort and cost involved in making something that is still handcrafted at the highest level of quality. Especially when a lot of talent has moved away from such traditional crafts to other avenues. Some people don’t easily get the economics of this effort.

Katie: Sterling Silver Ring with Caribbean Larimer Stone

11.  Is there any design of yours you consider your best? Which one is it and why?

Thankfully NO ! I don’t think of any one design as my best. Maybe the day I start to think I’ve done my best work would be a good day to call it quits !!

12. What is your vision for your work and design?

To continue making jewellery that is socially relevant to people. Jewellery is often expensive and rather than consider it a financial investment I would like more people to start considering it a personal or social investment that helps establish who you are rather than what you are worth.

Rihanna: Sterling Silver Pendant with Red Onyx and Silver Tone Disc

13. Your thoughts on Zaarga…..?

It is nice to see an e-commerce portal that gives importance to designers. I think good design has great value in any area: personal accessories, jewellery, furniture, home art, décor. Those who know me, know how much I love beautiful spaces – be it a home, a store or any space. What I like about Zaarga is the passion to put together great designer products and make it available to more people through online medium. Good luck to Zaarga to reach more and more people and spread beauty through their growth.

Team Z is also a huge fan of the Rasvihar and Cleosara range of jewellery! On behalf of our readers, we thank Ahalya for doing the feature for us and giving us a gimpse of the her superbly creative mind and vision. We wish Ahalya all success and glory in her design journey…

Team Z

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