How many people do you know who think, “I don’t want to wake up at 65, be super successful, but have lived a meaningless life. I want to do something I love and live the quality of life I’ve always wanted,” and actually go through with it? Conceptual jewelry designer Eina Ahluwalia did. The designer whose pieces are best known for having meaning and messages, gave up her high flying corporate job after four years to pursue her passion for silver and jewelry, even though she had no previous experience designing jewelry before! “I just knew I wanted to work on designs that would not let me sleep at night!” Kolkata-based Ahluwalia tells us.
The designer du jour takes us on a tour of her beginnings, her key inspirations, the baubles she loves to wear and more!
Tell us about your foray into jewelry design and the launch of your brand.
I set up my label in January 2003 focusing on contemporary silver jewelry made by world famous master craftsmen in Bengal. From 2006 for about two and a half years, I worked as a consultant for a jewelry export company, looking after their design and international marketing. I learned the production process, and traveled to jewelry fairs across the world while with them.
After two and a half years I began questioning the motive of my jewelry and fulfilling just the need for ornamentation was beginning to seem a bit hollow and shallow to me. My search led me to discover conceptual art jewelry and it felt like coming home. Conceptual jewelry is where the concept or the idea is most important, and the jewelry is just a way to tell the story. This kind of jewelry is worn for self-expression rather than ornamentation. It is worn to communicate the wearer’s thoughts, ideologies and even sense of humour.
In 2010 I was selected for a workshop with pioneering conceptual jewelry artist Ruudt Peters in Holland, and I spent a week with him and 14 other jewelers from across the world. The experience was magical. In 2011 I went to Alchimia: Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence for a two-month long intensive training in experimental techniques and material.
So now my work is an amalgamation of my explorations of life as an inspiration and experiments on the workbench, combined with the amazing craftsmanship we have here in India.
What are your key inspirations?
My inspiration is most often life and my interaction with it. Is the life around us real or the one we live in our head? Perspectives—from my eyes and yours, and the space in between. The Self—am I the body or the soul? The breath that defines one magical moment that I have in which to create my world. Travel, books, music, art and architecture inspire me. Ordinary people who show extraordinary empathy, kindness, strength and courage inspire me. My jewelry is pure personal expression. The more I grow as a person, the more I have to share through my jewelry. On the other hand, the more you grow as a person, the less you need to say. So my jewelry continues to evolve at this intersection of art, thought and self-expression.
What are the must-have jewelry pieces this season?
The single earring, mismatched proportions, brave big pendants, small vintage earrings, pearls and flowers are top international trends. However, I don’t personally like following trends. I just feel one should wear whatever makes one feel good.
What is your personal jewelry style? Which are your go-to pieces?
My go-to pieces are jewelry that I personally connect with, either symbolically or sentimentally. My jewelry style changes with me. Over the years I’ve gone from from big earrings to big necklaces, to a permanent stack of interesting bangles to my current staples—EA logo earrings, a ring on each hand, and medium to small necklaces.
A piece of accessorising advice you’d like to share?
Jewelry can be like personal totems or charms, so keep your sentimental pieces handy, and wear them when you feel you need an extra boost of magic. The only thing I’d advise not to do is to follow any rules. Although wearing too much jewelry is usually an overkill, some people can carry it off just fine. Conversely, there is no need to wear statement necklaces if they don’t fit your personal style just because the trend reports say so.
Which are your favourite pieces from Luxemi’s collection?
I really like the Kundan Glass Lotus Necklace by Amrapali, it is beautifully old-fashioned, delicate and traditional.
What do you think of Eina Ahluwalia’s jewelry? Tell us in the comment box below!
Praachi Raniwala for Luxemi