Jewellery designer Eina Ahluwalia is a familiar face to people in the know when it comes to statement costume jewellery. One look at her study-cum-office and you know its an all-consuming passion for her. Her bookshelves are piled high with books on jewellery — their design and history — though the rest of her collection in books is as eclectic as it gets.
The 33-year-old proprietress of the jewellery brand Breathing Spaces sits easy amongst them as she talks her creations. She prefers working with sterling silver, though she also uses gold-plating and semi-precious stones for many of her lines.
Ahluwalia is not a trained designer. Shes a marketing management graduate, and she spent several years as an executive, watching her life whizz by as she puts it wryly. Weary of the rat race, she decided to quit early. She had already been designing home accessories and jewellery when she had a little time to call her own. So when she quit her day job, it was an easy thing to figure out what to do next.
So Breathing Spaces came into being in 2003 with Ahluwalia deciding to design jewellery full-time. Five years down the line, she has already carved out her own niche. Ahluwalia retails from her residence at 10, Gurusaday Road by appointment and holds annual exhibitions in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. For Calcutta, she does at least two exhibitions a year. She also supplies to designer and lifestyle stores like Ogaan, Aparajita and others in all major cities in India. She supplies to retailers in 12 countries too — the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Latvia, Norway, Hong Kong, China, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bangladesh.
Her jewellery has also made it to the ramp, having been showcased at the Lakme India Fashion Week in 2006 with outfits designed by Dev & Nil and then in 2008 with Kallol Dattas line. Theyve also been on display at fashion shows in New York and Santa Fe in the US. Ahluwalia had also styled pieces used in television shows and in occasional films, including Aniruddha Roy Chowdhurys Antaheen.
Ahluwalia doesnt really set or follow trends. As she puts it, I follow my gut. I just go ahead and design something and then sort of belatedly try to figure out if its going to work. For her it has worked well so far and her creations have been hitting the right trends. But shes quick to point out that theres an underlying logic to her designs. I do read up a lot on fashion and jewellery and try to be abreast of whats happening on the ramps. Clothes and accessories always influence each other. So if you know whats going on in the fashion front, its easy to imagine what could hit the big time for jewellery.
According to her, big, bold neckpieces are the in thing now, and the focus has shifted away from heavy earrings. Cuffs are still very much in fashion and bright colours and stone embellishments continue to rule the roost. As in all accessories, metallics are very much the flavour of the moment, though Ahluwalia feels that silver is stealing the show from gold. White and silver are going to be the next big things in jewellery, she says.
If her predictions come true, then she has nothing to worry about, armed with her sterling silver creations that make a powerful statement. Take, for instance, the Nature series with mostly hand-crafted rings and ear and neck pieces in textured silver with light frosting on some of them. Shaped to look like anything from leaves, to flowers, sea shells or even birds nests,these are priced between Rs 550 and Rs 3,800.
A study in contrast would be the Scandinavian Minimal line, given an almost industrial machine- parts look with the sheen of the silver brushed down to a dull steel-like finish. With a lot of rivets and straight lines, the pieces cost between Rs 850 and Rs 4500.
But the real showstoppers are some of the pieces in her On the Rocks collection (priced between Rs 6,200 and Rs 55,000). These statement pieces are crafted from silver and bold, colourful semi-precious stones like turquoise, coral, sardonyx, lava rocks etc. These are designed for women who are self-confident and can handle attention,she says.
Ahluwalia also draws a lot of inspiration from her travels and the Byzantine line stands testimony to that. The intricate carvings on the Turkish architecture have been translated to jewellery with gold-plating and lots of turquoise, pearls and onyx. The pieces cost in the range of Rs 1,450 to Rs 7,250. She has also done an Asyk line inspired from wedding jewellery in Turkmenistan with gold-plating, turquoise and coral being the accents. And talking of gold-plating, she has a Bold Gold line of gold-plated jewellery in contemporary style too.
Apart from designing, Ahluwalia also sources uncommon jewellery for retail. The ones from Afghanistan are real stunners with the pièce de résistance being the bird-shaped turquoise and coral earring. She also sources antique jewellery from around the world, though she retails only a portion of it, pointing out laughing that her own obsession with jewellery makes her keep a large share of it for herself.