All that glitters may not be gold, but when it comes to jewellery designer Suhani Pittie’s works, her Midas touch can turn any piece of silver, copper, or steel into a work of art. Known for her no-fuss, contemporary jewellery, Pittie’s oeuvre is a coming together of traditional Indian craft and modern sensibilities, and her artistry lies in transforming any metal that catches her fancy into a statement piece using semi-precious and precious stones. The latest from Pittie is ‘The Mogra Muse’ collection, inspired from the mogra flower, which is indispensable in most Indian weddings.
There are earrings, bracelets, hair accessories, hathphool, maangtikas, and anklets in copper with 22 carat gold plating, studded with tanzanites or pearls, and hand-painted in soft oranges and pastel blues – ideal for traditional ceremonies and beach weddings alike. “Since the mogra flower is used so extensively in Indian weddings, we decided to create this collection around it. Traditionally, the bride is made to wear flowers on her ears or wrists, especially at the haldi ceremony. That was the inspiration to make a whole range of casual and heavy pieces. Even after the wedding is over, the mogra stays,” says Suhani Pittie.
A look at Pittie’s designs shows that she has worked with a variety of materials to create pieces; the 38-year-old is one of the country’s first designers to break the gold obsession.. There’s silver, copper, steel, gold, brass, tin, leather, and if that is not unusual enough, jute, wood, glass, and thermocol. The texture, stones, and how the piece feels are important to her – a Diwali collection will feature the highest quality of emeralds and rubies, while an everyday wear line will be designed in tanzanites or iolites. “We take pride in beautifying the materials we work with,” says Pittie. An earlier collection, ‘Found and Lost’, featured wilted flower designs in tones of grey that she created using German silver to an exquisite, sensuous effect.
Having studied gemology at GIA Carlsbad, California, in 2000, Pittie began her career by starting a school of her own in Kolkata where she taught gemology. “I had never planned on making jewellery design into a career,” she says. In 2004, by which time she had moved to Hyderabad after getting married, she experimented with jewellery by melting an old piece of silver, giving it a beaten texture, and strung the resulting pendant by a thread. The neckpiece became quite a hit with friends. A small space at the bridal exposition, Bridal Asia, the same year was the first step to showcasing her work publicly and a long list of accolades followed.
From becoming the first Indian jewellery designer to be selected for Miami Fashion Week (2008) to doing a private show for the British royal family (2011) to being selected among the top ten most inventive and ingenious jewellery designers in the world by World Gold Council (2012), Suhani Pittie has done it all. Today, her company employs 250 workers, and apart from the corporatisation and expansion of the brand, Pittie’s focus today is on ethical jewellery practices. However, it is staying relevant over the years that has made her the happiest. “Our designs have been picked by clients from 19 to 90,” she says. “It is no longer only about the investment value, but also very much about the design and what resonates with the bride.” A bride once brought in her grandmother’s traditional ruby neckpiece – Pittie made a silver filigree and Bidri craft collar with uncut diamonds to go with the piece, which the bride wore for her wedding.
Priced usually between Rs 3,000 to Rs 45,000, the brand certainly seems to be something for everyone. Pittie has recently forayed into gold (the pure gold pieces naturally start at a higher price point), and is now looking to work and experiment with platinum next. A shining prospect, we say.
All images: Courtesy Suhani Pittie