Manpriya Bath has been working in the jewellery world since 1993, starting out with a jewellery boutique in Delhi that sold luxurious jewels inspired by the glamour and glory of vintage Indian jewellery.
Her store specialised in bespoke commissions and unique pieces designed by Bath. Famous fans of her jewellery designs included the late Princess Diana and Hilary Clinton.
Now based in the UK, with a new jewellery brand Manpriya B, Bath gives us an insight into her beginnings in jewellery and explains why the gemstone must always come first.
Tell us about your brand.
“I have created elegant and contemporary fine jewellery for the past 25 years. The jewellery is beautifully confident, eye-catching and draws inspiration from vintage and classic pieces, reworked with a signature flair for colour and design. I’m known for one-off pieces, bespoke work and small collections, developing a reputation for working mainly in sliced diamonds and coloured stones. The quality of gems and finish are paramount, and all stones are carefully selected for their own unique qualities, which are celebrated in each design. If a design is repeated, it will be different depending on the size and shape of the stone.”
What inspires your designs?
“The journey always begins with the stones; be it slice diamonds, coloured stones or diamonds. The stones are chosen for their fineness, purity and rarity and set in precious metals with other rare stones to accentuate their natural colour and beauty. I am mostly inspired by architecture, antiquities, textiles and the decorative arts, suggesting shapes, colours and a combination of both. I love to surround myself with beauty and beautiful objects rather than follow fashion or competing brands. If a design is repeated, it will be always be different, just as the size, shape and colour of each and every stone is individual.”
What made you want to become a jewellery designer?
“My journey began in New Delhi, India, growing a fondness for stones and jewellery at my mother’s knee. My mother converted one of the garages at home into a jewellery workshop and had a workbench installed. She made me watch over the craftsman and travel with her to purchase coloured stones and diamonds in India and Europe. She instilled in me the importance of choosing the best stones for each piece, and would never be satisfied with second best. I was fascinated and wanted to learn more about the field, so I studied gemmology at the Indian Gemmological Institute in New Delhi, and then later, when I moved to London, I completed a qualification in Jewellery Design and Diamond Grading from The Gemmological Institute of America. I originally started the business in India and counted Princess Diana and Hilary Clinton as two of the visitors to my shop there. In 2017, I decided to focus on my London clientele and grow my business in the UK, which is where home is for me now.”
Tell about how your jewels are made.
“First and foremost, I source the stones. That’s where I always begin with the collection. The stones literally speak to me and then I work my designs around them. After selecting the stones, I build each collection around a theme which might be inspired by a period in history, such as the motifs of the Rajasthan Royalty for my Fleurs de L’Inde line. Or a style of antiques, like the Georgian Girandole candelabras that inspired my Girandole earrings, or the beauty of the natural world around me – a great example is the fluidity and depth of colour in the polished rare Glam Rocks stones. I begin work on a mood-board, followed by rough sketches, which are then drawn up as detailed technical drawings for my jewellery makers. These drawings are converted to CAD, and I am closely involved at each step to ensure the final hand-made design realises my original inspiration.”
How do diamonds feature in your work?
“I like to use diamonds as highlighters, except for my Diva Slice collection, in which I have used slice diamonds as the main stones. I have always loved working with slice diamonds for their organic shapes and patterns, and only ever use those that fulfil my exacting standards for size, colour and clarity. As a result, I have developed relationships with some of the best slice diamond suppliers in the industry.”
Will slice diamonds continue to be at the core of future collections?
“I continue to develop my work with slice diamonds to create one of the most extensive, high-quality collections in the world. Drawing on inspiration from my clients, I am developing pieces made from single exceptional slice diamonds that can take the wearer from day to night, as well as statement high glamour pieces for evening wear. Single slice diamonds are paired with black onyx to create a stylish contrast or surrounded by smaller slices as highlighters to create impact. Larger slices are grouped together to create my signature Girandole collection or paired with mother of pearl to produce beautiful pieces full of subtlety and light.”
You only use the best gemstones – but what about craftsmanship?
“Quality of craftsmanship is assured through long-standing relationships with all my vendors, suppliers and craftspeople. I often use traditional methods in the production of a modern collection. For example, each piece in my Fleur de L’Inde collection is produced using the ancient Kundan method of layering gems in gold foils.”
What are your thoughts on ethical jewellery practices?
“Following new directions from The Responsible Jewellery Council, I am keen to put sustainability at the heart of my business. I support good labour practices and fair wages for my craftspeople in India and take care to use small-to-medium-sized workshops. With a commitment to keeping my business rooted in sustainability and responsible sourcing, I am also developing a redesign service so clients can bring existing pieces to be remodelled and remade. A client may have inherited a piece that does not speak to their personal style – or perhaps a client has an investment piece in their collection that is no longer worn. I love to work closely with my clients and can help them reevaluate these pieces and remodel to ensure that no stone is left unloved or unappreciated.”
Tell us about your latest collection.
“Launching at this year’s The Jewellery Cut Live in February were the latest additions to my Glam Rocks collection. Glam Rocks are coloured stones of a rare size and quality, tumbled and polished to produce gleaming, tactile organic shapes that are utterly unique to each piece. A new selection of statement earrings will join the original tanzanite, amethyst, rose quartz and citrine collection. A gorgeous array of tumbled stones are set against contrasting gems and diamonds: purple amethyst with iolites; blue topaz with white sapphires; green amethysts with peridots; and lavender quartz with purple amethysts and pink sapphires. The result is a beautiful selection of truly extraordinary stones that will appeal to lovers of colour and impact, as well as the fine jewellery connoisseur.
Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline for 2020?
“Alongside the redesign service, I will be presenting a series of Manpriya B Salon Events. Experts from the world of jewellery, charity, art and media will be invited to speak at the Salon Events, and each one will be an opportunity to hear extraordinary stories, learn more about the world of decorative arts, meet people and maybe even discuss your ideas and love of gems and jewellery design.”