Thursday, July 18 2019


Unbinding Traditions

Suhani Pittie
She is known for her skillful art of coalescing the classic with the modern, and has already won many awards for her artistry. Contemporary jewellery designer Suhani Pittie shares her work and life chapters with Shaily Bhusri.
Her designs are finely handmade, being crafted in Hyderabad for the past eight years, the city where she not only found her soul-mate but also her inner undiscovered talent. Suhani Pittie’s jewellery is fierce but not quirky, luxurious but not so precious that one keeps them locked up in a cabinet, stylish but not saccharine. The pieces are an unexpected mélange of the traditional and contemporary, which is her signature style. Her latest collection ‘Revival’ displayed excellent pieces like headbands, necklaces, cuffs, brooches, hair bands and kurta buttons, all finely crafted in the traditional style while being eminently wearable by the most modern fashionistas.
The 31-year-old opened her first store in 2008 in Hyderabad and her collection is available in all metropolitan cities. Her art finesse prompted the World Gold Council to put her on their list of the ‘10 most inventive and ingenious designers in the world’ while the British Council chose to display her collection for Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Maharaja Gaj Singhji at the Bal Samand Lake Palace, Jodhpur, also awarding her with ‘Young Entrepreneur Award’ in 2009. The young lady now counts the rising stars of the movie industry, lots of fashion designers, and corporate honchos among her clients. She was the first Indian jewellery designer to be selected to showcase at the Miami Fashion Week, The Museum of Arts and Design, New York and have her work subsequently commissioned.
Pittie describes her own designs as, “Very modern but with a twist. While designing culture-inspired pieces, I add elements like coins from the Nizam era or pick up south Indian temple pieces or the moon of Islam and play with the look. The whole world is there for you; it’s just how you see it and use it.”
Indeed, she can pick up inspiration from just about anywhere – “the dancers on the streets, the women with their ringing anklets, the bangle maker, the local kumhaar (potter), old photographs, tall buildings, brass, and steel. Also, I have a huge fascination for the rich heritage we own,” says Pittie.
Having studied gemology from the US and already a successful instructor of gemology in Kolkata, Pittie specialises in chalcedonies. “It is a tough task to find two naturally identical shades and inclusions. I enjoy this specialty,” she says, adding that she didn’t actually give a serious thought to designing jewellery. “Marriage brought me to Hyderabad and one day I was toying with some old silver and made something for mom. Tremendous pressure from my friends forced me to make more. Suddenly I saw myself participating in Bridal Asia. Getting such rave reviews actually gave me confidence to explore more. Some of the most exciting stores bought my work and I found myself a new career. Designing was never on my mind. Drawing was never a hobby,” says Pittie.
The biggest challenge Pittie faced while starting out was finding ‘like minded workers’. “In India, jewellery has always been traditional,” she explains. “Workers did not want to deviate from what they had been doing for decades. It was quite a task to get my workers to think freely and work on my patterns. Now I have a great team!” she marvels. According to her, “People are willing to pay any amount for clothes but have strict budgets for jewellery, even if it is precious metal.”
She found her first collection ‘Grunge Begum’ very challenging and yet very close to her heart. “Doing ramp-worthy jewellery and then the clothes was a Herculean task. An accessories show in a main fashion week was a first. It taught me discipline, planning and working in a systematic manner. The reviews after the show were great and it instilled in my team and myself tremendous self-confidence.”
The designer’s favourite gems include Alexandites, Tanzanites and Paraiba tourmalines, but she is skeptical whether wearing particular gems can have an impact on the fortunes of any human being. “It’s a belief like numerology or astrology. If it works for you, that’s great.”

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