Indian jewellery designer Roopa Vohra creatively revives the ancient Moghal technique into wearable art. By Alia Fawad
What makes Roopa Vohra different from other jewellery designers is her passion for art. “ My jewellery is basically an art form which dates back 400 years,” she says. A glass making artist and jewellery designer by profession, Roopa is artistically inclined towards the unusual.
“My backgrounds in two very different careers have come together in producing this form of art. I never thought the two would ever be linked together. For instance, I was working in the jewellery manufacturing business in India which involved hands-on experience with manufacturing techniques. When I moved to Cyprus, I worked in the glass manufacturing industry, learning different forms of techniques and treatments using glass as a raw material. The two different careers I pursued brought about what I am able to do now in my line of jewellery design,” explains Roopa.
During one of her trips to India, Roopa bought a book produced by the National Museum of India which turned out to be the inspiration for her jewellery designs. “In the book I saw this picture of a fan which had glass and gold work on it. It was a strange experience for me because I never thought I would see the merging of the two different techniques that I had been working on.
What attracted me to it was the details on the piece - it was simply beautiful,” she says. After extensive research into the history and manufacturing techniques of this extinct art, Roopa decided to launch her first collection in 1996. “To my amazement the influence of this art was evident in a lot of different countries as well. I was travelling a lot during those years and on one of my trips to Egypt I saw the influence of glass and gold on ornaments and artefacts. What was more interesting was that this kind of technique had completely deteriorated and it was up to me to develop it.
Whatever was available was very sub-standard.” The question that concerned Roopa at this stage was the physical revival and manufacturing of this technique. “Nobody knew of this technique.
The generation that I was producing it for had not seen this art in the form of jewellery. It took me a year and a half developing and researching it further,” she adds.
Roopa first launched her jewellery collection in Bombay which was a huge success. “My first collection was a true portrayal of the Moghul period with elephants, peacocks and the processions that were so typical of that era.
When I decided to participate in Basel, in Switzerland, I modified and added colour to the design with precious and semi-precious stones. I also experimented with the treatment of glass adding reflection and colour for an effect,” she says.
From designing, manufacturing and adding final touches Roopa is involved in every aspect of jewellery making. “After I have done the initial sketch I give the design to the artists working with me. we have a ready-to-wear line which is solely now produced by the artists employed. For every collection I am involved right till the last stage of hammering the gold into the case of each jewellery piece,” explains Roopa.
The unique aspect of Roopa's jewellery is not only the design but also the fact that only 23 carat gold is used for producing the jewellery. “What we discovered during our research was that only 23 carat gold can be used for the pieces we are creating. The gold has to be cut into thin sheets and moulded at a certain temperature. It is a precision technique which ensures the durability of the jewellery piece,” says Roopa.
According to Roopa, the Eastern culture is changing its trend in jewellery design. Gold jewellery is no longer considered just a commodity but is today appreciated for its design value. “A woman's security is not in the gold that she carries but in the education that she has achieved,” adds Roopa.
The two most popular collections from Roopa called Thewa and Naqashi have been a huge sell-out in the Gulf. She also participated in the Bride 2002 exhibition held in Dubai last month.
Her next venture in jewellery design is a platinum line which she will launch in October. “The next collection will also have a lot of Swarovski crystals and black diamonds encrusted in gold,” she informs.
Roopa believes in making jewellery that is beautiful and wearable yet stunning. “What you wear as jewellery must add to your personality, not take away from it,” she adds. AW
For more information on Roopa Vohra's jewellery designs visit her website: www.thewa.com. Or contact her on: firstname.lastname@example.org.