Jewellery Feature > Hanut Singh
The burgeoning Rs 1-lakh crore domestic jewellery industry in India is testament to the importance Indians place on their jewellery. Where once it was the preserve of family jewellers and trust was gained over many generations, the emergence of jewellery designers, independent and those designing for jewellery houses, has today egged people to experiment and accessorise as never before. Featuring independent designer Hanut Singh, whose jewellery reflects grace, quiet grandeur and a traditional Indian spirit. Hanut seems to design to flatter rather than overwhelm the wearer and his creations are versatile enough to be worn over almost anything, at any moment, for any occasion. The grandson of late Maharaj Kumar Karamjit Singh of Kapurthala, Hanut has no formal training, his early influences being the Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels jewellery commissioned and owned by his family. Presenting a selection of his work and thoughts.
In conversation with Hanut Singh
Indian By Design: What are your earliest memories of jewellery?
Hanut: I’ve grown up with and around exquisite jewellery. Really great pieces, made by the major artists and jewellery houses of the 20’s and 30’s. Jewellery was worn, and not only locked up in my house. And so from childhood, I would see and play with all these magnificent stones and works of art.
Indian By Design: You worked with Warner Bros, Elle, L’Officiel before you launched your own line of jewellery – what prompted that?
Hanut: I’ve always been able to write but it wasn’t a passion. Music was a passion and working with Warner was fun, but the music scene here then consisted of half-ass rock bands, and that was dreary! I knew that I had to do something that fuelled my passions and jewellery was it. No questions. Once that crystallised, I manifested that passion.
Indian By Design: Your first interaction with the craftsmen – how did they react to your pieces, your ideas?
Hanut: With some trepidation I think. They must have thought I was a little cuckoo, but they educated me and I educated them and we all have reached a happy medium!
Indian By Design: Your jewellery reflects the quiet nature of miniature paintings rather than the largeness and drama often showcased in royal jewels. Why is delicacy so important to your work?
Hanut: I am not into “ceremonial” jewellery…truth be told..which most of Indian women are into. Large doesn’t equal beauty, and stones are always compromised, quality too. Finesse in design and delicacy is my thing, and so, I follow that. I have started playing around with larger stones, but those too eventually turn out looking delicate! I guess that’s my forte, and is prevalent in 99% of my work. Can’t fight the feeling!
Indian By Design: How does the nature of a stone influence your selection for a design? Where do you most draw inspiration from?
Hanut: That’s the starting point. it is the basis of my piece. I find the stone and then work around it creating the design. The stone is always paramount and the design should then follow. I am drawn to many moods and those allow me to create.
Indian By Design: Queen Alexandra inspired the house of Cartier with what they said were the world’s most beautiful shoulders for displaying jewels. Does any patron stand out among others?
Hanut: Many patrons inspire me, among them Donna D’cruz, Wendi Murdoch, Malini Ramani and Shweta Nanda.
Indian By Design: Your take on the business of designer jewellery in India. Who among your peers do you find of interest?
Hanut: Frankly, I find a lot of the designers here too ‘inspired’ if you get my drift. I mean how many trends are they going to run with. Also, in the process, they are not identifiable…or uniquely their own. Who excels is Viren Bhagat, but he most certainly isn’t a peer, but a Titan! A lot of Munu Kasliwal’s stuff is cool and innovative, but these guys have been around a while.
Indian By Design: What is your next collection about?
Hanut: It’s a work in progress, and until it crystallizes, I am not going to reveal much more. It’s very botanical, but linear.
< Hanut handcrafts his 18 carat gold pieces with Peruvian Opals, Amazon Beetle Wings, Japanese Abalones, Afghani Tourmalines, Sri-Lankan multi-sapphires, Jette, Persian Onyx, Rubelites, Tanzanites, Chalcedony, Black Diamonds, White Diamonds, Starlite, Russian Topaz, Kundan, Birolettes and yards of pink pearls. His clientele is as varied as his gems – Penelope Cruz, Mary Kate Olsen, Padma Lakshmi, Rebecca Romijin, Amy Adams, Naomi Campbell, Beyonce and Malini Ramani. He is based in Delhi. See more of his work here. >
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