Intrinsically Indian but punctuated with global appeal – that’s how one would sum up the jewellery designer Ananya Malhotra creates. Just about making a mark on the international fine jewellery map – she has undertaken projects with the Victoria & Albert Museum, and The Barbican, London, and brands like Swarovski and Amrapali – Malhotra’s designs are characterised by floral inspirations and an interplay of interesting colourways.
For Malhotra, each piece she designs ties into the idea of jewellery – why it is worn, what its emotional appeal is, what that design symbolises for the wearer. In the end, the ethos of her eponymous label is not just built on the beauty of jewellery – it’s based on the reasons a person should wear her piece.
Based out of Miami, and hailing from a family which understands the business of fashion (her parents are Tina and Atul Malhotra, owners of the fashion store Evoluzione), understanding jewellery and its nuances came naturally to Malhotra. It was while studying at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, London, that her admiration for jewellery began, leading her to launch her label in 2010. Over the past nine years, she has catered to a small, niche clientele, controlling how many pieces she actually produced. However, now having recently set up her first shop-in-shop experience at The Kila, New Delhi, she has opened up access to her work.
With her manufacturing units in Mumbai and gemstone-cutting facilities in Jaipur, Malhotra designs intuitively for jewellery connoisseurs who are on a search for timeless, meaningful pieces. And her latest collection Mogra is the perfect example of her brand’s ethos. Inspired by jasmine, the collection comprises of pieces made in white diamonds and mother-of-pearl. The colourways are bright – greens placed against tones of pinks and subdued hues of oranges and bright blues paired with whites. There are occasion-worthy neckpieces, earrings, and rings, all featuring an architectural bend. Malhotra adds that cultural influences and her worldwide travels – from cosmopolitan London to Thailand’s Buddhist traditions to Turkey’s East-West confluence – all have an equal part to play in her design process. What sets her apart in the market is her ability to bridge tradition and modernity. There is an innate sense of old-school luxury with modern-day panache. Be it her bridal neckpieces, which can look equally alluring on a red carpet, or her rings which can be worn as hero pieces for cocktail hour, or even her earrings that have an architectural bend, everything is packed with a punch of freshness.
With her opening her new store, Lifestyle Asia India spoke to Ananya Malhotra on her oeuvre, work, and designs.
On what jewellery mean to her
Jewellery always has a story to tell, whether it is used to mark something significant in birth, marriage, or in a gesture of love. Jewellery for me has always been associated with family, celebration, and culture. It could be a diamond hair pin gifted to me by my grandmother, which she wore on her wedding day, or a ruby family heirloom necklace. I have been exposed to jewellery from a young age, historically it is very much woven into our Indian heritage. While studying in Central Saint Martins and working in jewellery workshops, I found my passion for designing jewellery and wanted to start a brand that celebrated jewellery and what it symbolised.
On her latest collection ‘Mogra’
The latest collection ‘Mogra’, which means jasmine blossoms, celebrates the flower’s spirit of unity and divine hope. In Southern India, jasmine garlands are fastened to women’s hair to symbolise good fortune. The flower bud is used in religious ceremonies, bringing together people during celebrations, and is especially prized for its delicate fragrance. Mogra interprets the allure and enigma of ancient flowers through jewellery design.
On her creative process
The gemologist in me loves working with new and unusual gemstones. I am always looking for new materials and processes. For this collection, it was especially interesting because each piece was crafted with hand-cut mother of pearl inlay. Finding the right shade of gemstones to highlight was also a process and every step required a considerable amount of time.
I believe it is important to practice what you preach. Each collection starts off with tons of research and I also draw inspirations from gemstone healing classes, gallery visits and books. I gather inspiration from everywhere. I sketch everything from scratch and sketching for me is very therapeutic. I incorporate contemporary geometric forms with spiritual inspirations into my designs. I then go onto add colours and gemstones to the forms. Detail for me is everything.
Tips for investing in jewellery
If you are looking for a piece of jewellery, you must appreciate both, design and quality. Don’t tie yourself down to a piece that you are unsure of wearing. Choose something that you love and it will always feel effortless.
On her expansion plans
I am currently expanding the brand internationally and also recently launched a shop in shop at Evoluzione Kila in New Delhi. The brand is also relaunching its show space in Chennai later this year. The latest addition to the brand is the bridal bespoke services and collections.