What do designers Suneet Varma and JJ Valaya and a premium jewellery brand like Tribe Amrapali have in common? They have all collaborated with a new, ethical jewellery brand, Aulerth, to shape exquisite jewellery for the contemporary Indian woman. The stunning pieces swap gold, silver and precious stones for sustainable alternatives like metals recycled from industrial scrap and man-made stones.
Mind you, it’s not funky outlandish stuff that looks good only on the catwalk, but eminently wearable chandelier ear rings, delicate chokers and bold cocktail rings that any progressive jewellery lover would be proud to possess. “Call them our new measure of prestige through design, craftsmanship and responsibility,” says founder Vivek Ramabahadran, adding that the brand’s debut collection comprises 64 exclusive pieces by the three design brands and are available on the Aulerth website as well as the designers’ own stores.
Suneet Varma’s creations draw inspiration from the classic inlay work and pietra dura-inspired friezes and frescoes of the Taj Mahal, along with meenakari inspired from Mughal art forms. “The back of the jewellery is as picturesque as the front,” says Varma, of the carefully arranged soft bursts of pastels in pale pinks, minty greens and white stones.
The JJ Valaya specials fuse The Royal Nomad with strains of Art Deco. “It is a very versatile collection that can be worn both with occasion wear as well as with crisp shirts and jeans,” says Valaya. The couturier translates his design sensibilities from his stunning ‘Rumeli’ creations (of Turkish explorations) into delicate metal frameworks with zircon accents, fine enamelling bejewelled with a bandish work.
Tribe Amrapali translates classic Indian jadau and chitai work in the breathtaking meenakari and kundan work with enamelling. Says CEO Akanksha Arora, “Every piece in this collection is inspired by the flamboyance of Indian culture and traditions. The fine beadwork, oxidation and gold plating, cup a curious, eclectic mix, evocative of the Amrapali signature style.”
Gold mining generates more than 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. “A nine gm, 22-carat gold ring would have generated over 20 tonnes of toxic waste—that’s almost six billion tonnes, annually! This contributes to significant ecological damage and habitat destruction. At Aulerth, we believe this isn’t necessary to create a product that can be cherished on its design and craftsmanship. The jewellery is artistically engineered to bring the designer’s ingenuity to life with exceptional craftsmanship. To maximise longevity, our pieces go through a process of gold plating, protective layering and anti-allergen coatings well above current industry standards,” he adds.
The bijouterie is created using base metals that are recycled after industrial use (automobiles, construction equipment and so on) and repurposed for high quality. “We use man-made stones to avoid the mining footprint, and meticulously choose those that offer us the quality and feel of equivalent mined stones to the extent possible without compromising on design integrity,” shares Ramabahadran, adding that the brand also provides warranty and services for renewal (trade an older jewel for new) and restoration (a new life for the older jewel).
But can the sparkle of upcycled textures replace the joy of wearing traditional heirlooms especially in India? “That is why we bring the best of design aesthetics celebrating Indian craftsmanship techniques. The target audience isn’t just “eco-conscious” buyers, we are appealing to any woman with a discerning sense of design and an appreciation for meticulous craft, a woman who is open to building an alternate view versus traditional norms on jewellery and is open to embracing a modified view on preciousness.
Also, he feels there is no better place to start with than India, the world’s second-largest consumer of gold and diamonds. “Here, gold is so deeply entrenched culturally and socially across generations, I thought that even if we could divert some part of gold jewellery consumption towards our jewellery, it would have a meaningful positive impact,” he signs off.