The Lotus Temple of Delhi, India is a marvel of architectural design. Its construction required that it be built with nine sides. These `sides' consist of three clusters of "free-standing marble clad petals." India is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia.
I made note in another post that India has an enduring jewelry history where body ornaments are more than mere decoration; they are ceremonial offerings, dowries, and symbols of royal abundance.
The country is perhaps best known for the exquisite quality of its filigree and meenakari jewelry. In my opinion, no one takes artistry, color, and intricacy to the level of Indian jewelers.
Presently based in Toronto, Canada, Ahluwalia's jewelry easily falls into this awe-inspiring category. Although--based on what I have seen online--in terms of color she does not entirely follow the traditional meenakari style, her design quality, however, is just as complex and striking. It is ambitious jewelry; elaborate, bold, and extravagant while maintaining a certain amount of delicacy and femininity.
Intrigued by an ancient, Indian poem that depicted two lovers passionately engaged in coitus wearing nothing but their jeweled possessions, Ahluwalia built a design approach that highlighted jewelry's sensual connection to the body.
"In India, jewelry is a part of the body; it’s a part of your skin. I began to explore around the body with extreme exaggeration," she says.
Ahluwalia constructs contemporary and futuristic items that transcend the traditional extravagance of Indian jewelry, working with 18-karat white and yellow gold, Tahitian pearls, and white diamonds (the designer's signature).
The part-time technical drawing instructor's incredible Ethereal Rhapsody neckpiece, a snaking arc of white gold, Tahitian pearls, and black and white diamonds, grandly displays this transcendent quality. Her lavish 18-karat white gold, white diamonds and red enamel Bel Canto Choker is the designer's homage to opera.
"Bel Canto means `beautiful singing.' The design is inspired by the sheer experience of opera. Opera can be playful, prayerful, haunting, and incredibly versatile. I wanted to create a feeling of being suspended in space, surrounded by music."
The exquisite piece is featured on an Antwerp, Belgium postage stamp in celebration of "a five-stamp collection entitled Antverpia 2010.
The city of Antwerp is responsible for about 80% of the worldwide trade of rough diamonds. Diarough, a Belgium-based diamond dealer, collaborated with the designer on the stunning Bel Canto piece.
For me, Ahluwalia is yet another example of what true inspiration can cultivate. It cannot be cultivated simply by saying I am inspired but by capturing whatever has struck imagination's chord by sketching, taking notes, or taking a photo.
This stroke of imagination is then brought into the creation process where an instinctual awakening lends itself to the formation of breathtaking jewelry.
"I am a hands-on person. I was always exploring; playing with wood, paper, and wire. My aesthetic is a conversation between line, structure, and color. I love to explore geometry and exaggerated forms but I like subtlety as well. Overall, I have no boundaries."
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat White Gold Bel Canto Choker with White Diamonds and Red Enamel
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karate White Gold Ethereal Rhapsody Neckpiece with Tahitian Pearls, Pavé Set Black Diamonds and Prong Set White Diamonds