Picked as the season’s must have in HARPER MAGAZINE this October , shortlisted to accessorise the LAKME FASHION WEEK and getting SONAM KAPOOR to wear her designs , Vinita Michael , is hot property. Her official page cheerfully displays ” Life is too short to wear boring Jewellery “. Her designs have an instant pep factor and they feel young , experimental and chirpy . Vinita makes everyday jewellery with a flamboyance . Sample this , an African Mask inspired earpiece , that I probably could pull of at work . Here’s excerpts from an Interview peppered with little smileys .
Tell us a little about yourself ?
I am actually from Kerala but was raised in the capital. My dad’s side was very academically inclined whereas my Mum’s side is very culturally inspired – My Mum is a Mohini-attam dancer besides being a civil engineer, currently pursuing her Ph.d. Growing up, I think, I was very fortunate to get constant exposure to all fields – be it academic or cultural – My grand dad was the Director of Indian Agricultural Research Institute and he would often take me along on inaugural events , flower shows etc. Overall I’d say I had a very happy childhood full of encouraging words of advice and activities- Now that I have a child of my own, I’m constantly trying to pass on the message to him that ‘you are loved and can do anything’ – childhood is so important, that’s where the foundation is set.
What made you pursue a career in jewelry design? What has been the motivating factor?
I was actually a science student up until 12th .. Post that, I felt that I definitely needed to be in a more creative setup. I gave the NIFT entrance exam, and thankfully cleared it. I took up accessory design with majors in Jewelry and Precious products, but very honestly, it wasn’t until my internship at Amrapali Jewels of Jaipur, that the art of jewelry making genuinely inspired me.
Can you tell us about your experience at NIFT? How important is it to get formal training in jewelry design field?
As much as I would stress on the experience you gain in the industry, you cannot ignore the edge a good training gives you, specially if your family is not from the design background. I would say if you are the cake batter, design school is the oven and the industry the serving table. You need to get baked and you need to get served- without either, your purpose is defeated.
Before you started your label , ‘Vinita Michael Jewelcraft’ you have worked with some of the prestigious jewelry brands in India–Ganjam, Amrapali and Anmol –Can you please tell us about your experience with these brands ?
I have indeed been very fortunate to have had the opportunities to work with some of the best players in the industry, and I thank my stars for the same. My experience at each firm has been vastly different from the other, which worked great as it gave a holistic approach to jewelry – design, manufacturing logic and retail. At Amrapali, I was asked to design like there’s no tomorrow. To Ganjam, I owe my technical understanding of jewelry – placement of collets, difference in height between each gemstone placement etc . And at Anmol, I learnt how to listen to the voice of the end consumer.
When and how did you start your label ‘Vinita Michael’?
The label ‘Vinita Michael’ was conceptualized in 2011 in Mumbai. Our initial approach was that of a design consultancy where we collaborated with manufacturing units and offered capsule design ranges. The idea was to use their manufacturing skills to the optimum and team it with our unique design concepts to present a range, which was bespoke in design and exceptional in craftsmanship. I now majorly operate from Dubai and provide end-to-end solution – design to manufacturing, to my clients. Monsieur Fox, Mikura Pearls and Al Mahmood pearls are some of our noted clients, to name a few.
What defines ‘VM’? What is your style philosophy?
We aim to bring together the magnificence of age-old Jewelcraft techniques with unique design conceptualizations, in the form of jewelry and precious products.
From where do you draw your creative energy? What inspires you?
I am a very visual person. I love travelling and most of my designs are inspired by the traditions and diverse cultures of the world.
How do you classify your designs ?
Our designs are divided into two broad segments based on the choice of medium:
- Silver lining – crafted in Sterling silver with semi precious stones
- Splendor – crafted in 18K Gold with Diamonds and precious gemstones
I have developed 3 collections under silver lining
- All things wild and beautiful
- African Rhapsody
Can you describe your signature style of jewelry? Whom do you envision when you design a piece of jewelry?
I would rather not bind my work with a signature style. Of course the underlying flavor stays the same, which I believe is crisp, simple and strong. But in terms of treatment, I aim to evolve with every collection and try that each collection is different from the preceding one. I envision myself when I’m designing unless I have a specific client in mind. If I think I’ll wear it, it’s going into production. Haha
How does it feel to have celebrities adorn and endorse ur jewellery ??
It obviously feels great. There is a huge sense of encouragement that comes with it, especially when celebrities who are known for their style sense sport your pieces. I think the most flattering complement was when this one very senior person in the industry, who I personally look up to, told me that she knows I will go far. I hope she meant what she said (LOL) and God willing things will continue to get better, but in either case it was such a boost to my morale.
What is your process in creating your pieces? Where do you manufacture your jewelry?
The process starts with generating a theme board, rough ideations and initial conceptualizations. Followed by final renderings, and handmade samples which are crafted in 18K Gold/92.5 Sterling Silver. Its very important to me that my first samples are created in front of me to ensure that it is exactly as I had envisioned it. So I have the pieces manufactured in Dubai, as that’s where I am currently based.
Going through your designs/collections, one can definitely notice the strong influence of Indian art, culture, tradition by using age -old jewelry handcrafting techniques like filigree, repousse’, chasing etc – Do you feel that handcrafted jewelry is losing its battle with intrusion of CAD/CAM technology – where the turnaround time is shorter and with most precision output?
Well I actually feel the other way around – that the handcrafted jewelry is finally being perceived as more coveted and valuable than ever before. Its being seen as an art form which cannot be replicated by everyone. Not to undermine the relevance of CAD/CAM here which is a great tool as well in jewelry making, specially when addressing the mass market.
What material and techniques do you love to work with ?
I constantly try to work with different materials and techniques, but I’ll have to say Repousse’ is one of my absolute favorites
When and how did Dubai happen ? How were those initial years ? How different is the Dubai jewelry market from india ? What do you love about Dubai ? Does Dubai inspire your work ?
When did Dubai happen ? April 2012
How ? My husband ! On the condition that if it dint work for me, he’ll move with me to Mumbai . Looking back now, I highly doubt that would have ever happened LOL. Jewelry market in Dubai is more of a retail center as opposed to India, which is a manufacturing hub. I love the pace of Dubai. And also the fact that it is such a huge melting pot of cultures from around the globe, which to me is a source of immense inspiration.
Do you miss India ?
How can I not ?
Is there a piece of jewelry that you dream of owning?
Yes, the traditional South Indian ‘Maanga Maalai’ necklace.
What has been the most challenging piece you ever worked on ?
A jewelry box that is composed of a bangle, a pair of earrings, a brooch and a ring – conceptualized as a part of my final graduation project at Amrapali Jewels.
Your favorite piece of jewelry you will never leave your house without ?
My engagement ring
How can one get access to your beautiful creations ? Do you have any retail outlets or an online store ?
Brick and mortar : Al Amir Jewellers, Sharjah, UAE & Ogaan, New Delhi, India
Online : Silver lining by Vinita Michael on ananasa.com
Caring for young family and fostering the VM label , we would assume is enough to keep u busy. In addition how do u fit in time for your interests in travle and photogrpahy and mentor students @ gia effectively without being overwhelmed ? ?
When you are passionate about something(s), you make time for it. Plus it helps to have a super supportive family and a baby that sleeps through the night
Tell us a little about your husband ? Does he inspire you in your work ? Does he criticize your work ?
If it wasn’t for my husband, I wouldn’t be doing half of what I’m doing right now. He’s undoubtedly my biggest support system. He knows when to pull me up and when to be my worst critic. He was the one who suggested that I start designing jewelry for men too, which I was initially hesitant about. But today, it has become one of the most important product categories for the business.
Whats next in store for VMJ ?
Lots of things, Will keep you posted as they finalize