CHENNAI: Tweezers hold a gold band, and a pair of pliers grab one end of the band and twist it. Peering through a microscope, Sanjoy Pramanik carefully crafts a pendant. The 20-year-old won the bronze medal in the jewellery-making competition at the Global Skills Challenge held in Australia in April this year.
When Sanjoy talks of his craft, his eyes light up. Having stopped his education in class 8, Sanjoy moved to Bengaluru to work in his uncle’s jewellery store to support his father and mother — farmers, at his hometown of Gajonkol in West Bengal.
“One thing that my uncle always told me was to respect the craft. It’s a job where you work with something so glamorous, and we have to respect what we do. In his shop, people used to sleep and eat in the workspace — that’s not correct,” said Sanjoy. With his uncle’s support, he took part in a jewellery-making competition in Bengaluru and Indore, and won both.
These competitions involve many aspects of making a piece, such as soldering, setting, accuracy and time. Sanjoy explained that the judging is very strict and even the slightest discrepancy from the assigned piece can result in loss of points. Additionally, most competitions allow for a creative element. Based on a mood board, jewellers are asked to design an element in their piece.
“It is very interesting because I get to learn more about the country. In Australia, we had to base it on a park and the local birds. I also took part in a competition in France National Skill Competition in 2018, and I made a lot of friends with the participants there. I used Google Translate to speak to them,” said Sanjoy, who works in Vummidi Bengaru Jewellers, Anna Salai.
According to Anupam Karmokar, subject matter expert of the Creative Centre of VBJ, such competitions give opportunities to artists. “These events must go onto a global level. Other manufacturers must also send more people to such events. Otherwise, not many from the current generation will come forward to carry on this art form,” he said. The Creative Centre hopes to fix this by offering training in both manufacturing and design to artisans.
“I need to improve my timing and soldering is my weakness. In the France National Skill Competition, I was the only Indian. Holding the flag and representing my country — it is a feeling I cannot describe,” said Sanjoy.