Temple jewellery gets a makeover in the hands of Chennai-based jewellery designer Sarika Rajeev Kapoor

The square- and circle-shaped cast-iron tawa with huge ladles catchs your eye first as you enter the residence-cum-studio of jewellery designer Sarika Rajeev Kapoor in Santhome. A hand-carved wooden rack occupies another corner, displaying footwear.

Kapoor works predominantly with temple jewellery, but she breaks the traditional mould, and redesigns them with a contemporary touch.

vanki and huge earrings have been converted into a huge necklace. Similarly, a thala saamaan set, comprising the sun and moon and nethi-chutti, has emerged as an elaborate choker; she weaves it together with jute thread.

“I was always inclined towards artistic pursuits, and jewellery-making was my passion. I used to make plastic bead jewellery for my cousins and friends when I was much younger. And after I quit my full-time job in the corporate sector in 2007, I learnt jewellery designing when I did a diploma course at SinGem Institute of Jewellery Designing. In 2009, I launched my collection, Aarika,” says Kapoor.

“It is temple jewellery that fascinated me, and Aarika is all about using that traditional medium to create something appealing for youth,” she says.

Jute, the star

The designer uses jute thread, which she dyes black, in her creations. “Making jute aesthetically appealing is challenging,” she says adding “I use the black to highlight the red stones and gold of the temple jewellery. I specialise in organic hand-woven jute neck pieces interlaced with temple motifs.”

She has now started designing lightweight cloth jewellery as well. She does this using kalamkari and ajrak printed textiles in combination with German silver. Most of this jewellery comprises huge and light-weight jhumkas. There are some neck pieces as well.

The footwear she designs is made of cloth as well. For embellishment, she uses jewellery. “I order the base of the footwear and then work on it, and use printed cloth and jewellery as well. These are a hit among the younger customers,” Kapoor says.

“I rework temple jewellery in such a way that it can be worn with Western wear. I attempt to bridge traditional art and contemporary tastes,” she says.

For instance, the neck-tie — a long chain with temple jewellery pendants at both the ends — can be accessorised with both Western and Indian outfits. Shoulder dusters also have a youthful appeal, as do her chokers. Her cluster necklace, with many layers and mini pendants, can be worn with a sari as well as a dress.

Kapoor says that a piece of jewellery should also capture the spirit of the wearer. She adds, “The personalisation and artistic vision that go into creating a one-of-a-kind piece, as per the client’s requirement, gives me happiness.”

The Aarika collection is retailed at Silkworm Boutique and Shilpi in Chennai. It is also available online at www.that1too.com and www.jumkey.com


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