Sintamani- A magical Jewel which fulfils one’s Desires
SINTAMANI is a boutique brand founded by British trained jeweller Priya. The brand name, derived from a Sanskrit word, was chosen to reflect the designer’s inspiration and ethos. The concept is to modernise traditional Indian jewellery, and to create minimalist pieces of decorative art for adornment.
SINTAMANI derived from a Sanskrit word,
was chosen to reflect the designer’s inspiration and ethos
Lets meet the designer behind the brand and find out about her journey;
“I have always been passionate about jewellery from an early age. I believe it stems from my background and heritage. My grandmother and mother used to adorn me with traditional gold jewellery when I attended family weddings in India. I remember my very first trip to India and my first wedding was when I was 8 years old. My aunt dressed me up in the traditional South Indian attire; bright, colourful and gold! I loved it!
Then when I was much older I took a gap year and went travelling. I wanted to find out more about my family heritage so went back to India and Sri Lanka, and that is where it all began. During this trip, my grandmother had passed down to me the most beautiful enamelled gold ring; it was so intricate in design with a peacock. She told me stories of how the artisans used to come to their house, melt the gold and create jewellery in her presence. This got me intrigued and I wanted to find out how such beautiful jewellery was made.
On my travels I visited some workshops in Jaipur and saw some artisans enamelling. Later, in Sri Lanka I undertook a jewellery making course and made a ring under the watchful eye of a fine jeweller. Once I returned to the UK, I continued with my jewellery classes. At the time it was just a hobby, a creative outlet for me: the decision to make it a career only started when I fell out of love with my day job as a science teacher.
It is much harder to take a chance and do something new then it is to continue along the same path.
One thing I’ve always done is follow my desired path in life. It is much harder to take a chance and do something new then it is to continue along the same path. If I feel unhappy in that moment in time, I try to do something about it. I suppose it’s hard to pin point exactly where I got the confidence from; I think it must have been a cumulative effect from all my life experiences. It was a hard decision for me at the time to leave teaching, but I knew it wasn’t the way I wanted my career to go. I began my jewellery career by leaving an established teaching career at a point where I was able to go into a management role.
Sintamani- A magical Jewel which fulfils one’s Desires
In the beginning my business was under my own name. However, I wanted to create a brand name that encompassed my heritage, so I looked into different words related to jewellery in Sanskrit. SINTAMANI, is derived from the word cintamani, that is considered to be a fabulous jewel bestowing prosperity upon its owner and is connected with the Hindu gods. I thought with a name like that how could it go wrong!
My work is influenced by intricate repetitive patterns seen in imperial historic Indian architecture and textiles, particularly the motifs seen during the Mughal era. I love big bold pieces, and wanted to create wearable art. My first collection; the Blue Lotus, was inspired by the Jali patterns seen in the Fatehpur Sikri, and my Zari collection which is still ongoing is inspired by prints seen in the zari in Indian bridal saris.
I also love photography and travelling, and try to capture moments and objects that not only remind me of my adventures but inspire me to create. Once I’ve got my photographs all laid out, I look for particular shapes and patterns. I sketch out geometric drawings until I see a motif that I could use in my jewellery. From my 2D drawings, I move into 3D models using copper and binding wire to create different forms until I find one that suits my style, I then create 3D drawings using CAD.
Sintamani bravely moved to London last year. That is not something everyone can do.
Before moving your business to a new city, it’s important to know exactly what it is you want to achieve and see if it is possible to do. Sintamani bravely moved to London after being based in Birmingham for several years. That is not something everyone can do.
Moving to London was always on the cards for me, especially working in this industry. I felt that there were more opportunities. Also it may have been a personal goal too; I lived here about 15 years ago! I am much older and wiser now, and it’s been a good decision. Within the first few weeks of moving, I found myself a shared workshop very close to where I live. I am on a workshop deal; the workshop is attached to a gallery, @Work, and is in a great location. I work a certain number of days a year in the gallery and have free 24-7 access to the fully equipped workshop. There are 6 of us who share the workshop, and it’s a great creative environment to be able to work in.
I also sell my work at the gallery and working there allows me to meet some interesting regular customers on their way to the Tate. Before moving down to London, I was already a member of the JeDeCo collective and I also sell my work in the gallery in the OXO Tower. I want to increase the number of my retail outlets, and to seek further prospects and expand my business.
For me if I was not able to go on my adventures abroad, I would feel totally lost. I am lucky, before I got into jewellery; I had a well-paid job that allowed me to take time off to travel and live/work/volunteer abroad. The two places that I will hold closest to my heart are India and Kenya.
For both, I was there as part of a voluntary art project working with children in the village. I was living with a local family, and will never forget those experiences. One of the hardest things for me to get used to was bathing. Both places having water shortages at the time meant I quickly had to learn how to wash using only one bucket of cold water. These experiences may not have inspired me creatively, but they were unfamiliar and unique. Many of my trips I made alone and it made my confidence grow. It also allowed me to meet some exceptional and inspiring people from different ages and backgrounds. For me as a designer, I feel it’s important to feel inspired by various aspects in life, whether it be shapes, colour, food, events, people or actions.
Travel is just as important to me as jewellery! I find it difficult to be inspired by my everyday life. When I’m on a trip I feel energised and raring to go when I get back.
I recently returned from an inspiring trip to Vietnam. Inspiration is hard to find even when I am living in one of the most inspiring cities in the world! My plan for this trip was to find inspiration for a new body of work. Vietnam is a beautiful country, full of colour. This excited me as I was looking at developing my Holi collection; inspired by the Indian festival of colour. I wanted to incorporate some aspect of colour into my work; either using unusual gemstones, enamel, powder coating, textile or experiment with different materials to allow more vibrant colours to be introduced into this collection.
I could never give up travelling; it feeds my creativity.
Coming from a chemistry background, I have always been experimental and enjoy investigating and love to learn new things, it excites me. My next project is to look into producing a new collection in a new medium and introducing more colour. I trained and have always worked in metals; I would like to try out some different materials. The jewellery industry is changing drastically and there are many designers working with some interesting mediums. It is important to push myself and develop as a designer maker.
I would like to go back to teaching jewellery. I used to teach classes at the MAC in Birmingham. It was interesting to work on different projects and trying to resolve my students’ queries. It enabled me to develop my skills as a maker as it encouraged me to try out new methods and techniques. Another aspect of teaching jewellery I enjoyed was working on other projects; such as being involved with jewellery workshops run by the Prince’s Trust at the MAC. Since moving to London, I’ve yet to look into such opportunities.
I love being my own boss and there are lots of advantages and disadvantages. One aspect for me is finding the motivation to start work each day. It is easy to take a day off because it’s sunny, or you are tired or just because you can! I always plan my working week on the Friday before to make sure I have set myself tasks for each day.
On the other hand, the plus side of being self-employed and running your own business, is to be able to treat yourself. Sometimes to that occasional day or even a few hours off to enjoy a walk, a gallery or even the lido on a sunny day. The best part of doing this and what I love is that I’m happy to ‘go to work’. We spend so much of our time in our jobs; it’s a shame to spend all that effort doing something we dislike.
One advice for someone starting out new
I would try to get some work experience working with a self-employed designer maker first. As there’s lots of aspects to the business that you may not have realised. I think that is something I would have liked to have done prior to setting up, as there were a lot of pitfalls when I first started my business, mainly in finding reliable outsources to work with which led to elevated start up costs. Also I would apply for mentoring/business incubation programmes; you can learn so much about how to set up and run a sole trading business.
If I was not my own boss, I would need a career that is varied. I like to learn new skills to develop personally and professionally. I would need to have a fulfilling career, one that is as enthusing as my jewellery.”
If you would like to see more of Priya’s work please see the links below.
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