Each of her designs has a saga to share, a piece of royal legacy with elements of antiquity leaves the wearer spellbound with its charm. Jewellery connoisseur Tanya Rastogi shares her designing secrets, views, etc., with Kavita Parab.
Jewellery is not just an ornaments but an emotion, a heritage. And, if this heritage has a touch of royalty, it would make the exquisite jewel more special. If you are a woman who enjoys indulging in the glory of royal adornments then Tanya Rastogi, jewellery connoisseur and curator, is the answer to all your queries.
Tanya Rastogi is known for her everlasting eternal creations and enticing estate jewellery masterpieces. Coming from the family of the Nawabs ‘Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers, the jewellers to the Nawabs of Awadh since centuries, Tanya was fortunate to have access to rare jewels that were once only adorned by the Nawabs of Lucknow. This was when her journey as a jewellery connoisseur took a distinctive turn, where she started experimenting with those royal jewels and restoring wondrous masterpieces from the forgotten era of the Nawabs.
Rendezvous with Jewellery
After completing her education in Gemology and Design from a design institute in Delhi, pursuing a career in jewellery was a natural choice for Tanya. She further says “I have always been inclined towards art and designs, which fascinate me. Coincidently, I also married into the 10th generation of Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers.”
Tanya truly believes that jewellery is a passionate and eternal art and art is timeless and thus is for generations to cherish, to own and to don. She is inspired and fascinated by the Nawabi culture and jewellery, which has been the primal source of inspiration for her. “I receive my inspiration from the rich heritage of the Nawab’s, thus creating ‘Jewels of Awadh’. The fine jewellery which was once flaunted by the Royal Courtesans is what inspires me to recreate them for the present and future generations. ‘Jewels of Awadh’ is an attempt to recreate the Awadhi legacy. Some of the pieces are authentic vintage pieces which age over 150 years or so. Jewellery is forever and I work with the best of jewels to make this possibility a reality,” says the legacy designer, Tanya.
While talking about her favourite gemstone, Tanya comments “A gemstone I love working on is Spinel. Nothing beats the shine of the yellow metal, of course. It involves a niche line of jewellery designing, which I personally love working on. Since spinel is not used as much, it brings me great joy in creating masterpieces using this fine gem”.
She further adds “When you think of the depth a gemstone would produce in comparison to that of a diamond, one will understand that even though diamonds have great value and beauty, the use of gemstones is way more remarkable. I prefer the usage of colour gemstones like Burmese rubies, Columbian emeralds, and blue sapphires, whose glory cannot be matched by the usage of colour diamonds.”
It may not be known to many that each piece of jewellery is personally curated by Tanya. “If you see the Hyderabadi Ghaat which has antique stones like spinel Ladli amongst others, or the Champakali haar which consists of various different maang tikas placed around the neck, I especially love working with genuine vintage baubles, whether it is in maintaining, refurbishing or patiently exploring for these amazing gems,” adds Tanya.
Jewels of Awadh
Tanya’s relentless love for jewellery is the prime force behind the creation of ‘Jewels of Awadh’. Her eternal romance with antiquity and passion to restore rare designs from the bygone era is the reason that she creates enticing, eternal and imperial designs for generations to cherish. ‘Jewels of Awadh’ is an assortment of Awadhi Jewels that have been sourced and collected over the years and have been given a fresh look reviving the glory of the Awadhi era through wearable art in gold, diamonds, kundan, polki and extremely precious pearls and gemstones, like Spinel, Jade, Basra pearls, Columbian Emeralds, and Burmese Rubies. Every piece has its own zealous match giving the heritage look and royal taste. The jewellery is even designed with its comparison to the age of the Nawabs, and hence, the jewellery created and designed is of the same standards. “I personally have a fondness for statement earrings and thus, my collection offers an array of Jhumkis and chandbalis. Some of these from jewels of Awadh age more than 150 years, too,” adds Tanya.
Wearing Tanya’s Creations
The jewellery created at Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers is exquisite. Antique jewellery with a contemporary twist is what we specialize in. Hence, the women donning such pieces would be those who love the vivacity of such pieces like the Champakali which has opulent maang tikas which have been sourced over different eras from different locations. The Saat Lada Haar for example is a piece which has a traditional approach which can be donned on a special occasion with a trousseau that matches the same elegance. The jewellery ensembles range between the traditional and contemporary pieces which make it perfect for nay woman depending on the event they desire to don it upon.
Tanya’s personal style for dressings as well as jewellery is more earthy, experimental and classy, yet colourful and unique. She explains “The chic tone of each piece is visually transcendent and I personally love the contemporary amalgamation with the traditional jewellery pieces. Indian urban women tend to don pieces according to the occasion. I would recommend them to experiment with either light weighted or heavy pieces depending upon the occasions.”
Tanya, too, is mesmerised by bollywood diva, Rekha and would like her jewels to be worn by her. “A muse I’d like to have would be the timeless beauty, Rekha. This is because of her exceptional performance donning heritage elegant jewellery in Umrao Jaan back in 1981. She would be the perfect style icon as she could don and pull off the Awadhi pieces we create at Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers. A very glamorous and chic tone is applied in the film wherein you understand that you don’t need to show skin to look beautiful,” says Tanya.
“When celebrities are seen donning our pieces, it gives us a doubly validated level of happiness. Any kind of adoration for our designs and jewellery makes us happier when compared to even a major sale. It is that appreciation for your creativity that makes us at Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellery, especially content with our hard work invested in the same,” says Tanya. The brand had a tie up with Calendar Girls where the actors did a fashion show donning the ‘Jewels of Awadh’.
Each artist has a few defining moments that are etched in the mind forever. Tanya, too, remembers an incident vividly, which helped her in designing. She reminisces about the emotional experience. She says “It was roughly 10 years ago when we had freshly inaugurated our diamond jewellery floor. We were getting accolade for the same as I recollect. One day, I clearly remember, a village person came in with a "potli" (a bundle). He placed it on the counter in front of my husband and said, "I don’t understand diamonds or the designs, but it’s been my ambition to give my daughter a diamond bangle at her wedding. No one in my village has ever done so. She is now getting married. I have Rs. 50,000. Give me whatever you think is good and can be bought in this amount of money."
“I believe that no matter however big our sales have been, I have never encountered a more satisfying one than this. That satisfied look on his face was the most precious moment and was fulfilling for us. It was an eye opening experience as well as an emotional one, which brought in a lot of clarity towards my jewellery designing and creating journey,” added Tanya.
There are several things that the industry has taught me over the years, one of which is creativity is key toward making a name. Once you are happy with what you have created, you have to be certain that it is in your interests. You have to create a niche for yourself with that originality.
For those who aspire to be a jewellery designer like her, Tanya has a word of advice for them. She says “Jewellery making is an artistic career. However, there are several basics that one needs to know. Designing is a very essential element of the career but knowing your metals and stone play a crucial part in the translation of a piece from canvas to reality. I would advise all the aspiring designers to focus on learning the basic. Working with a mentor you look upon could help you in learning the tricks of the trait.”
“I am from Lucknow and I take special pride in the art and culture the city has to offer. ‘Jewels of Awadh’ is an attempt to take Lucknow to the world, yet at the same time bringing Lucknow at par with metros was a major aim,” points out Tanya.
She has been greatly instrumental in bringing big names from the jewellery industry such as Gemfields, Forevermark and Rio Tinto, to Lucknow. A decade has passed and she has personally managed and brought up three of Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers’ flagship stores in Lucknow - in Mahanagar, Aminabad and Alambagh - respectively. Recently, she has also launched her personal lounge ‘Jewels of Awadh’, which consists of the Royal Awadhi recreations.
In the year 2015, she was honoured as one of the women achievers at the HT Woman Awards. In 2014, a jewellery piece that she had designed was also nominated in the ‘Best Gold Jewellery’ category at the Retail Jeweller India Awards. Recently, her better half, Arpit Rastogi received the “Jewellery Icon of the Year 2015” award at India Bullion and Jewellers Association Awards 2015.
Tanya fondly remembers a compliment by CM of Uttar Pradesh. She says “I have received plenty of appraisals for my work as a designer who loves recreating the diverse heritage of Awadh, but the best that I can think of, is when the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav complimented the Saat Lada Haar I created for its intricacies in designing. Nothing beats that very compliment by the CM, while inaugurating the lounge - Jewels of Awadh. ”
A day in her life…
As a designer, Tanya’s day-to-day routine varies depending on her work as she says “Jewellery creation is not a 9 to 5 job and is very versatile in nature. Sometimes you spend time with your client designing a single masterpiece according to their desire, while sometimes you are in production. Sometimes, you just go out in search of inspiration and subsequently, a typical day at work depends on several aspects.”
Other than work, she keeps herself busy with her hobby of reading. “While designing my jewellery is my hobby which turned into my work, I have an unending appetite of reading books and novels. As they say that a single book is worth a 1000 experiences, I enjoy the taste of reading books. Once you have a book, you are never alone and through books one meets many people they may have not met. A book gives you the opportunity to create within your own mind,” says Tanya.
Tanya Rastogi aims to introduce to the world the rich culture of Lucknow, thus giving it its due recognition. Recently, she launched her first ‘Jewels of Awadh’ lounge within Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers in the Mahanagar store. Her collection consists of statement pieces as well as her prized ‘Jewels of Awadh’. In the coming years, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers is set go across India, with stores in Noida and Mumbai, which will help them pass on the heritage of the Awadhi Era to the rest of the world. Soon, the brand is beginning an initiative with ‘Hermes’ called Celebrating Artisan. This will help artisans all over the world, as there are not many skilled artisans as required by the industry.
“The jewellery paradigm is on a slow and steady rise and a lot of it will depend on the PAN Card issue. However, jewellery has always been celebrated in the country and will continue to be. Hence, it will only get more organised and sharing as well as mixing cultures. The choice will then be available and the desire for it will also be,” concludes Tanya.