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IN CONVERSATION WITH PAVAN ANAND

— JASMEEN DUGAL

Goldie Hawn, Nicole Kidman and Kim Kardashian flaunt his jewellery. Versace collaborated with him at Jakarta Fashion Week. And the royal family of Morocco commissioned him to design jewellery for them. I am talking about Pavan Anand who was initially torn between pursuing a career in architecture or fine jewellery, took a leap of faith, and hoped passion and determination would be enough to build a brand of luxury jewellery with his own set of rules and voice. In conversation with the charismatic jeweller who aspires to continually shift the way fine jewellery is perceived, experienced and created.

 

Equipped with a degree in architecture, how did you diversify into jewellery? What inspired this? Do share your journey.                                                   

My love affair with diamonds and gemstones started out from the age of five or six!! I recollect expressing an uncanny curiosity when I would look at my grandmother's jewels; she was a connoisseur of fine jewellery. I would ask my mum questions about the value and origin of diamonds at that age! In fact a humorous encounter saw me referring to a one carat diamond as 'yuk, that is way too tiny' at the age of seven, to my grandfather in fact. Of course he was horrified! I also remember my love for gems didn't arise purely from a material perspective. As bizarre as this sounds, even today, I can actually fall in love — within the capacity possible towards the inanimate of course — with a diamond! The colour, cut, fire and history is mystifying! This love affair continued through my teens and adolescence. In fact, I would buy reading material on the jewels of Nizam, Patiala, Cartier, Tiffany and Bvlgari and then study the craft, joinery and technique. The obsession was so intense that I would often crush aluminium foil to create forms and shapes to understand how jewellery was designed! I did however have a parallel love affair with architecture and real estate! At 14, I knew the floor plans and sq ft valuations of luxury condos in South Bombay! When we visited people's homes, I would be studying the layout! So, I was in general, a very curious child on both these subjects! I loved my architecture programme! The day I finished my last year examination and thesis, I got home and spent an entire week pondering over my direction! We attended a family wedding at the end of that week and there I noticed a controversial piece of jewellery on a guest! It was a gold and diamond statement necklace created with 40- 45 gold snakes with diamond accents and emerald eyes!! It was the sign I was hoping for! My decision was made in that moment! I knew the passion I felt was not a whim but a gift from the Universe! And I announced my non negotiable decision to my family and went straight to the drawing board! I loaned money from my father — which I landed up paying back within six months — and began my sampling! My vision for the product, brand and client was focussed! My brand would be for the affluent, fashionable powerful globe-trotting woman. That was the inception of Dagmar — my first label.

How do you retain the sanctity of design and hand-cut jewellery without succumbing to commercialisation?                  

I strongly believe that a designer without a strong point of view is like a jet flying without navigation! The focus, for me, is on the end- result being immaculate! I am open to practical solutions that better a product. So we create handcrafted pieces in India as well as pieces created in Italy that utilise the most modern, cutting edge technology! It depends on the collection, design and the kind of emotion the piece needs to evoke. This is a very important question because building a brand is about balancing the creative and the business angles! I have never, and will never, compromise on the quality, finish, aesthetic and sensibility of my product! Also, as far as commercialisation goes, I am more of a trend creator than a trend follower. I choose my clients as much as they choose me.

 

'Dagmar' is a treasure trove of million- dollar jewellery and the most extravagant gemstones! What, in your opinion, is true luxury jewellery?        

 

Indeed, I love working with gems of great value and rarity, both for Dagmar and PAFJ! Having said that, no, just high ticket values do not equate to 'true luxury.' That's just money. Luxury is more about having and creating the opportunity to express yourself, totally unhindered! That, to me, is 'true luxury' and in terms of jewellery, we create a story, we sell art, we create pieces that empower the person wearing them! Yes, they are valuable! But the luxury element comes in as much through the unique story I am telling through each piece! The way the piece makes the client feel when she walks into a room! That's the luxury we sell!

 

When designing jewellery… take us through your process, right from the initial sketches and the meetings with artisans and master craftsmen to the production. Is it an organic, close-knit process?        

 

The starting point for me is meeting the client personally! Seeing their photographs and understanding their lifestyle is  important. Every individual has a specific energy, what we call 'vibe' in popular culture. When I see the client and understand the brief, I first set down two- three concepts I feel strongly about. The next stage is allocating a color story and gem stones, and of course, the budget — very important. Everyone has a budget, even the wealthiest; it maybe large but they are clear on their price band. My team and I then create detailed, sophisticated software drawings! I don't like wasting time on sketches! I like to go onto technical drawings from the onset! This is important to achieve an immaculate result! From experience, the client generally picks 'option 1' and this is a mystery to me! We then go into a detailed refining process! Gem stones are sourced based on rarity and this could take a week to eight months! Sometimes I have to procure rare gems at auctions to create the piece of jewellery… the gem stones are often that rare!! Physical 3D models are created, production happens and within forty- five days typically we have produced our art work! This process of course is for bespoke pieces!

 

As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?                                                      

 

My biggest inspiration is music. For me, it creates a certain kind of healthy turbulence that coughs up great ideas! I seldom look for inspiration outside me. If that makes sense?! Yes I often create historic or geography based lines but that is simply aesthetic direction! All the inspiration comes from within me and my own journey .

 

I've observed that your collections are time and labour-intensive but the design is contemporary and globally relevant. Please tell us about your design aesthetic.                                                     

 

There is a lot of art in the world that has been created and refined over eras, by great passion. I like to draw from the technique of these creations. For example, no where else in the world is 'Jadau' created but India; there is certain filigree that, for example, only French craftsman do; there is a certain micro pave setting that only Italians can do to perfection! I like gathering all of this and more to utilise! Sometimes multiple skills in each piece of jewellery. Not because I enjoy a mash up but because each gem stone has a nuance that demands respect! When we create a piece, each gem stone that is set is done so with respect and understanding of how to bring out its best! From the onset I was clear that I want to target a global audience. I do not just want to create for the Indian bridal market! I want to sell to a certain woman and her nationality should not be a constraint! My aesthetic is artistic, provocative, sometimes sensational, modern and extremely red carpet! This is a piece that is going to become a conversation point!

 

You once said, "If it is an ethnic piece, it should be purely Indian, and if it is contemporary, let it be just that,” Does this hold true today? What are the requirements from your clients today?          

 

I am a purist! I like black and white; greys aren't for me. Which may sound like a contraction but let me explain! I will fuse white and black to create red, yellow, blue or pink somehow but never grey; maybe even a stronger white or a bigger black! But never grey. So yes this remains my philosophy. Clients today want few pieces in their storage but robust pieces! Pieces that retain and appreciate value. Pieces they create an emotional bond with and feel empowered by. Coloured diamonds, very large diamonds, Pariba Tourmalines, Morganite, padparadscha sapphires, Colombian emeralds, black pearls — these are our most preferred and requested gem stones to be used.

 

What is your favorite piece of jewellery you've ever created — and what made it so special?                       

 

While I have a fondness for everything we create, there was a particular ring I created a year ago that for me may be my most preferred! It rings a strong bell of spirit in me. It is what we named 'The wings' The ring is shaped like a soaring bird. A 9.2 carat VS -F Diamond of natural origin, perched on a wave of fancy yellow and brown Jasmine cut diamonds! It, to me, represents the fire and passion each of us has within us to soar to Infiniti!

 

With a strong global presence among The A-list set... what do you envision for the future?                                                   

 

While the jewellery brands continue to do well, I will in fact be launching a new luxury brand in 2020! This will be in the luxury real estate design and development space. We should have more concrete information on this to share in 2020. I am particularly interested in the creation of a über luxe, niche resort chain.

 

'Dagmar' is niche i.e. exclusive, aspirational and with a strong brand identity. What are you doing to move your legacy forward?                         

 

It's important for me to ensure we never lose focus or sight of what has already been created. I am also considering creating a pret line of jewellery! I realise a lot of people enjoy our work but would love to own a piece, maybe slightly scaled down in size, to wear casually!! The trick here is on ensuring we don't lose the brand essence. We are working on it.
 

Pavan Anand
 
PAVAN ANAND
Statement Ring by Pavan Anand
 
PAVAN ANAND
Intricately designed earrings by Pavan Anand
 
PAVAN ANAND
Statement earrings by Pavan Anand
 
PAVAN ANAND
A stunning creation by Pavan Anand
 
PAVAN ANAND
Goldie Hawn wears a priceless emerald ring by Pavan Anand
 
07-NOVEMBER-2019
 
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