BENGALURU: Heirloom jewellery, despite equisite designs, is usually locked away. Ashwini Oza, the head designer of ARNAV Design Studio, realised that people liked to wear something lite and easy to carry.
She hit upon the concept of customising old pieces into something new and classy. She has gained the trust of more than 200 customers who keep returning to the studio.
Most of her customers come with inherited pieces and around the time of weddings. Ashwini comes up with designs also taking into account her customers’ personal interests. She asks what kind of music they like to listen to or the books they read, and observe if the person is assertive or opinionated. “Their lifestyle helps me understand the way they like present themselves to the world,” she says. “Some like to make a statement with their jewellery but some like to be understated. I sit and talk with them and it takes one or two meetings to know them, and then I suggest designs.”
There are kasu malas and manga malas that can be worn as separate pieces. There is a mala fashioned out of nath, because otherwise this piece of nose jewellery can only be worn for traditional occasions. Ashwini has clubbed five naths to make a neckpiece.
“This would be liked by someone who likes to make a statement with their jewellery but don’t want to show how much they have spent on it,” she says.
Similarly, she has redefined how a Chettinad thaali (mangalsurta) is worn. The traditional piece usually has 34 separate pieces on it, but she has brought it down to the central pendant with Goddess Lakshmi and added the heads of two earrings, with Burmese rubies, on either side. Manga-mala (garland of mangoes) is made in silver and plated with gold to make it affordable.
People also want to spend on other interests. “Other things, like travel, are important now. They spend on jewellery but they would not want to put all their savings in gold. That’s when I planned to design jewellery that are light and silver-based with gold plating,” she says.
The original pieces, she works on, are either sourced from customers or other merchants. With her team of four designers she has been catering to Bengalureans from her two workshops -- on Double Road and near Majestic.
Ashwini never thought she’d be a jewellery designer. “I studied interior designing,” she says. “I had started giving suggestions to my husband’s customers and they, surprisingly, liked them. My husband then advised me to set up my own studio.”