Ever since she discovered her love for jewellery designing eight years ago, there has been nothing else that keeps her going. Ananya Malhotra Reddy, with her eponymous label is out there to redefine the belief of jewellery just adding to one’s look. She feels there is much more to each piece and through her fusion designs, is out there to prove it. Hailing from a family that’s been into the fashion industry, she has seen it all and knows exactly what it takes to be a part of it. At a recent collaboration of hers, we sneaked her out for a candid chat to know more about this lovely, young thing. Here’s all that she had to say…
Text: Anahita Ahuja
“With jewellery, it is very easy for people to come in and redesign, but I think you have to draw a line somewhere.”
When did you decide to become a jewellery designer?
I went to Central Saint Martins at 18 with the intention to do Fashion, as my entire family is into it, but after my foundation year, I realised that jewellery was the thing for me, and decided to take it up. Ever since, there has been no looking back.
How would you describe your designs?
I think my designs are quite feminine and contemporary. I have tried to keep a balance between edgy and classy as there’s something for everyone. The idea was to create something that took the whole concept of fine jewellery and made it a little less serious. Something people can relate to on a more daily basis and wear more often – and that is what we’ve done.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
That would be emeralds and tanzanite as they cut really beautifully resulting in different and very interesting cuts and designs. I also love pink sapphires! I constantly try to reinnovate the wheel when it comes to precious stones, so you will see a lot of rubies, tourmalines, diamonds, and pearls also, that we use in 18K gold with Italian alloys.
How important is colour to your design?
To me, colour is everything. That is also because a lot of our pieces we do are representatives of how they would benefit us – we do pay a lot of attention to colour. When someone buys a piece from us, we give them a little colour card that tells them what these gemstones do and how they benefit from it, and as everyone knows, colour plays a big role in that. In terms of design I do a lot of monochrome colours, where I love throwing in pops here and there. So, yes, colour is everything.
Let’s now talk about your latest collection…
My latest collections are ‘Lotus Samsara’ and ‘Celestial Lotus’. They consist of pieces of jewellery that have been crafted using couture cut gemstones. The pieces on offer include earrings, ear jackets, bracelets, necklaces, chokers and rings. The profoundly personal meaning behind the jewellery is the power to connect emotionally and reflect the internal spirit. It is a constant source of fascination and inspiration for me. The Lotus Samsara collection is a celebration of the Lotus flower that explores the journey of discovery experienced during life and connects the wearer to their own personal stories, both in the past and present. The Lotus flower is very influential in Buddhist and Hindu philosophies. Its form represents the evolution o the soul – ever-changing and ever-moving. It is also considered the symbol of rebirth, known as Samsara. Talking about Celestial Lotus – it distils the visual and spiritual form of the Lotus flower as a symbol of harmony and consciousness. With a palette of red rubies, pink tourmalines, pearls and black diamonds, translated into contemporary geometric forms, the pattern of gemstones in each piece represents the relationship between the chakras and their perceived power when combined. The contrast of bold, geometric design and the delicate construction and detailing results in a hypnotic, feminine form.
What was the biggest risk you’ve ever taken as a designer?
It was while making a massive star ruby choker out of baguette where the rubies were replaced with baguettes. To actually find that biggest star ruby was the biggest risk and then that piece had to be hand cut to design – it was quite dicey but I ended up selling the piece the minute I showed it. So, I’m not complaining.
What are you working on now?
We’re working on a gifting collection now, as we’re gearing up for Diwali and Christmas. Along which we are moving forward with our bespoke collection too. And yes, we are also working towards our UK launch – so that way we enter the international market. So, there’s a lot of work coming up.
“I believe jewellery is an extension of yourself.”
Which has been your most favourite piece?
It is one of the pieces that I displayed at this exhibition. It is a shaded choker that graduates from rubies to pinks sapphires on to diamonds – which has all baguettes and is totally flexible with each piece being cut to design. It’s stunning and would definitely qualify as one of my favourites.
What kind of a woman wears your jewellery?
My clientele is of two types. One is of young, fashion conscious girls who are sick of wearing their mums’ classic stuff for parties and weddings. The other are mature women who are very comfortable in their skin, and aware of fashion – they like to take risks with jewellery as they have done the ‘playing safe’ part and now are looking for something special and different.
What would be the most difficult part of being a designer?
Where do I start? (laughs) Well, on a serious note, the most difficult part, as a designer, is to source the right kind of material and get the right cut. There are times when you have designs in mind but actually making it happen can be a challenge. Plus the workmen in India, especially the cutters, they’re so used to classy cuts with low wastage that they don’t want to take a chance with anything. So, yes, quite a lot goes into creating your vision.
What has been the best advice you have ever received as a designer?
To stay true to yourself, especially when it comes to the designs. With jewellery, it is very easy for people to come in and redesign, but I think you have to draw a line somewhere. That is where our ethos and designs have to be given credit and importance.
How do you deal with failures?
One needs to take them on as challenges. When you start your career, and begins to grow, there is no way that you won’t find bumps in the road – those are bound to happen, so take it positively and go ahead.
Tell us what the most difficult part of designing a piece is?
There is something difficult about designing each and every piece – whether it is the sourcing of its stones or seeing if the mental has enough flexibility to produce what you want from it. There are so many times when you imagine a design and creating it isn’t a possibility, too.
What about your manufacturing?
My manufacturers are in Mumbai, the gemstone cutting in happens in Jaipur, and I live in Chennai. So there’s a lot of travelling up and down, emails and skype calls that we use to coordinate it all.
With jewellery it can get very difficult to keep a commercial angle in mind…
Yes, there are times when you are creative about and something but the business angle comes in – and that is when you are to make wise decisions. Where without compromising on the design you find a way – you need to be smart enough to do that. Having said that, there are also times when I feel I go too commercial and don’t pay importance to a design – so I pull myself back and realise that there is something going wrong.
You recently changed the name of your brand…
Yes, it was earlier called Naya and now it’s Ananya. Through Ananya we intend to celebrate and rediscover the relationship between jewellery and those who are wearing it.
What does jewellery mean to you?
I believe jewellery is an extension of yourself. When you buy a piece, there is always a reason behind it – it is always a thought off thing. You don’t just walk in, and buy it like that. There is a lot more that goes into each piece, for instance – a piece you buy probably has its gems from one part of the world and enough history to it, and even the gold being crafted in a particular way – that you should wear it with a lot of pride.
What do you not like about what you do?
Dealing with people! (laughs) But I think it is the manufacturing part as there is always an issue with timing and I don’t like things getting delayed.
What about criticism?
It quite depends as criticism is subjective. I feel if someone has something right to say, it is always welcome. But people are over critical and that too just for the sake of it – and that I don’t appreciate.
What do you believe in…
One shouldn’t be afraid to doing what they want to. Take some risks because that is when you will get to see results.