Believing that faith, hard work and perseverance are the key to having her dreams come to life, Vinita Michael considers herself extremely fortunate that she gets to do what she loves for a living. With an eponymous jewellery label that focuses on the many rich metal crafts of the Indian Subcontinent, she not only develops her own collections but also collaborates with international brands on special projects. Sharon Carvalho speaks to the talented designer
How did your journey with design begin?
For as long as I can remember, I had always been creatively inclined. My fascination with jewellery began at a very young age, especially when I was getting trained in Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form from India. The nine jewelry pieces worn by a Bharatnatyam dancer during her act make for a vital element of her costume. However, it was only much later that I started considering design as a career option and applied for the Bachelors in Design (B. Des) in 2004 at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in India, with a specialization in Jewellery and Precious products.
What is it about jewellery that intrigues you?
What intrigues me the most about jewellery is the scale and the level of intricacy that can be achieved within that restricted framework. Jewellery has the ability to be a testimony to the precision of the skilled hand, eye for detail and the fruit of a creative mind. It can also be extremely personal. It can reflect and represent your unique cultural and traditional roots.
Your designs are very unique. How do you come up with your creations?
I see my designs as a concoction of intuition and logic. There is a method in all the madness. The first step in the collection development process is trends forecast. I work very closely with the Swarovski team on this vital step where we study the trends and materials, which will be relevant in the forthcoming season. Based on this study and my experiences from the past, which could include inspiring travels or an art practice, the chief inspiration is decided upon. This is followed by the word board and moodboard development. After this comes the design ideation stage, where initial sketches/ models are created. After further refinements of designs, which take into account the stone setting techniques, weight and dimension of the jewellery piece, the first sample is created. For me, one of the most important aspects of jewellery is comfort. I believe that when a woman is comfortable, she is effortlessly charming. Therefore, after the sample is created, we have it tried on to ensure the weight is perfect, it sits right on the body etc. Once these factors are approved, the sample is finalized and the masterpiece of the design is created.
What are your thoughts on the Middle East market?
The Middle Eastern market is very exciting at the moment. In terms of design appreciation, it is growing at a very fast pace and I’m excited to be a part of this movement. It is open to diverse aesthetics and has a huge appetite for new brands, which is great for emerging brands such as us.
What challenges did you face while trying to break in to this region?
To begin with, the first challenge was finding the right craftsmen, which is crucial in my line. I’m very particular about the quality and finishing of my products. A good design is as good as a beautiful dream that is yet
to be realized. A design may look great on paper, but if it is not backed nby equally skilled craftsmanship, it
remains a dream. The second major challenge was setting up our recently launched e-commerce platform.
Finding the right payment gateway was a challenge and delayed our e-commerce launch by over eight
What gemstone resonates with you? Why?
At the risk of sounding clichéd, diamonds can truly make for a girl’s best friend. I love their sparkle and elegant brilliance. My appreciation for diamonds grew tenfold once I took up Gemology as my subject for higher studies. It is interesting to note how each diamond is unique in its colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. Not to forget the extreme physical conditions a piece of charcoal goes through to turn into a diamond. It is truly a marvel of nature.
You’ve worked on a number of special projects. What is the best part about that process?
I’ve been very fortunate to have worked on some very exciting projects such as developing a bespoke jewellery collection in 18K Gold for the World Gold Council in 2009 and creating a one of a kind hair jewel for Tresemme’ Arabia’s New York Fashion Week runway in early 2016. More often than not, the primary focus in such projects lies in innovation and creative ideation, as opposed to commercial viability of the end product. Needless to say,
it is no less than heaven on earth for an artist as you can let your self loose and exercise creative freedom to the maximum. While creating the final pieces in such projects requires a lot more time, effort, explorations and refinements, it offers a huge opportunity for one to learn and grow.
What are your hopes and plans for the brand?
To be a globally recognized jewellery label associated with premium material quality, craftsmanship and unique
Most cherished piece of jewellery:
A statement piece I had developed for my final graduation project. It was a jewellery box that was composed of four individual pieces, carved with intricate motifs in repousse’ and chasing. Though it seemed quite an ambitious task to start with and took close to six months from ideation to development, it proved to be a
huge success upon completion and landed me my first job.
Celebrity you would love to create a piece for:
Queen Rania. She is the epitome of grace and elegance to me, and carries both traditional and contemporary trends with such élan.
Fashion pet peeve:
Following a fashion trend blindly. While it’s fun to keep a track of what’s new in the market, if it doesn’t suit your body type or is not comfortable for you to sport, it can end up being just an eye sore! Be aware of your options, but choose what complements you as an individual.
Favourite ‘me time’ activity
Reading with a cup of hot tea by my side.