Akansha Sethi’s brightly coloured jewels are certainly eye catching, especially her latest collection of carved gemstone and enamel designs that play on bright cobalt blue and cactus green, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens in Morocco.
Other innovative Akansha Sethi designs include button covers that can hook onto any button and masquerade as cufflinks – perfect for men who don’t want to wear double cuffs, or women who want to brighten up a shirt’s top button or two, or even knitwear.
In the latest in our Five Minutes series, we ask the British designer, whose work will soon be stocked in Paul Smith stores in both London and the US, how her love of travel and art inspire her and lead to new jewellery collections.
What inspires your designs?
“I seek inspiration from the places I have travelled to and by studying art movements, these have shaped my understanding of design. I spend a lot of time developing a narrative for each collection, combined with the inspiration of forms and colours whilst on my travels. The Nritya collection was inspired by the City Palace in Udaipur, where each room has a story to tell, not only through the beautiful motifs and vibrant colours but the unique and romantic stories behind each room. Each piece in the collection captures the essence of the space through the combination of hand-carved stones and enamel. Folio is a collection designed using hand-carved multi-coloured tourmalines with enamel work that represents the way leaves change colour from spring to autumn. The mini Deco collection was inspired by my love of fine art, and through studying different art movements such as the Art Deco period. In essence, my jewellery is an outlet expressing my memories and interests and sharing them with the world in each collection.”
How are your jewels made?
“The jewellery collections are a tangible set of objects, which relate to a specific moment or experience in my life. I work on the designs in stages, initially studying my source of inspiration then drawing it from the impression it has left in my memory. I gradually add colours and forms to bring this memory to its physical form. Once the colour palette has been decided, based on the source of inspiration, I carefully source the correct stones and design the carvings specific to each piece or collection. This leads to the final design, which is carefully analysed to make sure it would be comfortable to wear, and also perfectly captures the most important aspects of the original source of inspiration.”
What exciting projects are you planning for this year?
“I aim to launch another three collections by the end of the year, which will showcase different techniques and themes. Alongside the demi-fine jewellery collections, I will also be launching a set of five exclusive fine jewellery pieces featuring large, statement hand-carved stones – more than 150ct – through which I can share my love for coloured gemstones and bold jewellery designs, with a beautiful narrative. By increasing the number of collections and the different styles of jewellery I will look into selecting a few more stockists to drive more brand awareness and also push sales online on the Akansha Sethi website. From February, the Mini Deco collection will be available in select Paul Smith stores such as Mayfair, Albemarle Street, Heathrow Terminal 5 and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. I will continue to take part in The Jewellery Cut Live shows and am selecting a few shows to participate in Paris, the US and the Middle East as these are all places in which people have shown interest in my designs through social media and online enquiries.”
You mentioned The Jewellery Cut Live. What did you launch at the February show?
“Last year, I launched the button covers at The Jewellery Cut Live during London Fashion Week [in September 2019] and after such a popular response for the buttons, I have introduced a few new patterns within that collection. I also showcased my new jewellery collection for this season inspired by the bold colours and patterns of the Majorelle gardens in Morocco. This collection features a series of earrings and rings along with a statement choker. Each piece has been handmade using vibrant hand-carved precious stones with enamel detailing and each captures different aspects of the garden.”