Double tap! Morning rituals … **swooning** over my latest crush—Amrapali Rubilite Chandelier earrings. My love for traditional jewellery is no secret. If there was one brand of jewellery I would
wear for life it would be AMRAPALI. Why? Simply because there is an Amrapali for every occasion! This day was like no other…. To gain an insight into the world of Amrapali is a jewel addicts dream! I recently got the opportunity to interview Tarang Arora, creative director and CEO of jewellery power house- AMRAPALI.
What is your jewellery philosophy?
What we do is straight forward- ethic chic which incorporates Indian DNA. We are not trying to be Cartier or any jewellery brand but we are happy in the space that we have created. Amrapali aims to create trends by incorporating traditional Indian craftsmanship to wear with a western outfit or to a black gown event. We take the traditional craftsmanship package in a fashion forward funky manner for our clients.
Did you ever imagine that A list celebrities from Bollywood to Hollywood would be wearing your jewellery brand?
In 2002, we came to London for the first time. Our jewellery was an instant success during a show in Selfridges. The timing of our entry was perfect, as it was a great time for India abroad to enter the international market. Whether it was Indian food, fashion or jewellery, everything kurtas to the maang tikka got the fashion world buzzing.
Attending various shows and events led to celebrities wanting to wear Indian jewellery. Stylists would approach us and we got an unbelievable response on the red carpet, one after another so it started from Hollywood. Bollywood celebrities have been our clients for a very long time. However, in the last 6 years the Bollywod industry has transformed. There are more stylists’ and celebs that are more conscious about their looks as the media is a lot stronger and there always a media hype about blogging, fashion and styling. It creates a buzz for celebrities to wear something new and in trend.
Name your favourite celebrity to wear Amrapali jewels?
I have many especially in Hollywood- for example Angelina Jolie, and Halle Berry. Recently when I saw Rihanna wearing our dark Maharaja collection- the ruby and diamond ear cuffs on the September/14 issue of ‘W’ magazine. The idea of the cover girl Rihanna being represented not only as a style icon but to be wearing our jewels is out of this world. But there is always room for improvement and we are always trying to evolve our brand.
What is the one piece of jewellery that every woman should own?
Every women should own what they don’t have! i.e. Anklets, maang tikka, arm bands, ear cuff. Funky fun things which generally you wouldn’t have in your wardrobes, these are things that have always been out in Indian culture but are now present in a fun fashion forward way.
How does an Amrapali jewellery collection come to life? What inspires the concept of the pieces and choosing of the materials?
I think it’s not just about designing or making the pieces. Stones are very important, cutting and customizing as per design. Going to an effort to make sure the stones are cut to how I want them and not just what is available on the market. It makes the piece a little more expensive, takes more time but I feel more satisfied that I have delivered something that I am 100% about. The Manish Arora collection involved a lot of enameling. The conventional Indian enamel involves the standard: red, blue, green and dark enamels but we were the first to introduce fluorescent enamels with the Manish Arora collection. We Imported colours from all over the world to achieve the right look without subtracting the essence of traditional Indian jewels.
Describe your latest collaboration with Manish Arora A/W14.
The Manish Arora A/W collection was an experiment and that did better than expected. Neither Manish nor Amrapali had ever collaborated with a jewellery/clothing brand before. Manish has a distinctive bold colourful look, we have a bold traditional heavy look and our aim was to incorporate those two themes together. Manish was inspired by our archives; with everything being created in the Amrapali workshops. We would not have been able to achieve such unique pieces if Manish didn’t come with his fresh ideas and make us think out of the box. This can completely change the output and hence with Manish’s visualization we successfully created something the market had never seen before.
How long does it take from design to production for an Amrapali jewel?
The first collection With the Manish Arora collection took around 4 months to produce the jewellery ornaments. This includes endless hours of research and making the pieces to perfection and the vision we had created. We also came across technical problems, glitches’; experimenting with enamels was a challenge as they wouldn’t set so we had to create special ovens so the enamel would not fall off! We were happy with the first collection but the second collection came with its own challenges. Every collection has a hurdle and you overcome it and learn from it.
What is the highlight of your career with Amrapali thus far?
The Amrapali family brand started 1978, a young brand which has achieved above and beyond its original expectations in national and international stores respectively.
From A list celebs to great press that is commendable for us. Furthermore the feeling of admiration is an achievement, from being unheard to being known and admired especially in the Indian market. Jewel lovers everywhere know what the Amrapali brand consists of. It is also a great honour to be part of Selfridges, Harrods and now our museum in Jaipur which will showcase our private collection of our family jewels hence we have a strong objective for it to be the gem stone cutting centre of the world.
We are producing so many different styles of jewellery in Jaipur and throughout India but we don’t have a single museum which is dedicated to jewellery or a place where future designers can understand what our past was like. This is one of the ways we can give back to society with creating a jewel hub where aspiring jewellery designers/students can visit and take inspiration. The museum project is very special to us as a brand as it is our way of shaping the future by displaying the creativity and craftsmanship of the past.
Do you have any rules on how to wear jewellery?
Indian jewellery is distinctive even from production. You can tell a how a piece is illustrated, for example like a gold piece with diamonds, jadau, art deco look. All jewellery is handmade and varies across the of Indian jewellery making and traditional craftsmanship. Many people think all Indian jewellery is the same so you can mix and match different types of work but I would always say wear one form of style with the same detail of work….keep it simple.
Amrapali is no stranger to the big screen. From box office hits such as Troy and Ram-Leela to the royal romance in Disney’s Khoobsurat… What was your inspiration behind the jewellery for the character ‘Milli’ played by Sonam Kapoor?
We were given a brief that the character Sonam played was ‘the girl next door’ inspired. For Amrapali this brief reflected well on the types of jewels we create for our clients already. Our designs aims to appeal single woman. For example for this movie we wanted to stick to the funky teenage theme yet still have our affordability mantra which reflects everyday teenage life. We have clients at the age of 15-16 who want to spend their pocket money (approx 3500 Indian rupees) on some earrings for a special occasion such as a friend’s birthday party.
Other than doing the funky jewellery for Sonam we also did the jewels for other characters. Royal jewels were another key theme for this movie. Throughout the movie you can see this see theme from the Maharaja (who was sitting with Fawad on the flight) who was wearing a regal headpiece. I also love the elegant fine emerald brooch Aditi Rao Hydari wore! This shows attention to every little detail even with the sherwani buttons!
All items seen in the film can be found in our stores as the film does reflect the jewels we would design for our clients. The only difference is that in the film we have to perfect the characters look and continue to improve the jewels throughout the movie in accordance to the experiences that particular character undergoes.
Name your top style icons
In terms of jewellery, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood are the gold standard. My ultimate celebrity icon is Rihanna. Her versatility spans across a wide variety of styles from very edgy and cool to elegant and feminine.
How do you de-stress and make time for yourself?
For me, exercise is the best way to unwind and relax, with swimming being a vital part of my summers. Also I am always designing and looking for a piece of paper or using my Ipad to note down designs when something new comes to mind as inspiration can come from anywhere! In terms on holiday destinations, Goa is my favorite destination for a small holiday. The perfect getaway!
It was an absolute pleasure speaking to Tarang, a man full of passion and ever so humble and modest… Cannot express how much time, research and dedication the team place to execute elaborate and ingenious designs. .. I cannot wait to visit Jaipur and have my personal tour around Amrapali HQ with Mr Arora… Watch this space!!
http://www.amrapalijewels.com Amrapali 55, Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1NY, UK