Jasmine Ataullah, the winner of The Jewellery Cut Bursary 2021, is an adventurous soul. The self-taught designer grew up all over the UK and New Zealand, which she says has given her “itchy feet”. “I find it quite hard to imagine myself in one place for a long period of time,” she muses.
For now, the 28-year-old jeweller has found a home in the British seaside town of Brighton. Here, amongst the city’s famously colourful streets and a stone’s throw from the pebble beach that attracts thousands of day trippers, Jasmine creates modern gold jewels that give a nod to her South Asian heritage through hand-engraved flourishes.
“I take a lot of inspiration from Pakistani jewellery,” says Jasmine, who is always impeccably adorned with stacks of her own gold jewels, including multiple earrings and a nose ring that she handcrafted herself. “I basically make things so that I can wear them,” she laughs.
Jewellery designer Jasmine Ataullah
Jasmine is leaning into her Pakistani heritage – and it was the discovery of a passion for jewellery making that encouraged her to do so. When Jasmine was in her early 20s, she was working in graphic design but felt a pull towards a more hands-on form of creativity. This led her to seek out evening classes at her local college, and she decided to give silversmithing a try.
Surrounded for the first time by tools she couldn’t name and thrust into a busy workshop environment, Jasmine felt a sense of belonging rather than alienation.
“I know it sounds really cliché, but the moment I sawed my first piece of metal, I fell in love with it,” she says. “After my first lesson, I started following a few silversmiths on Instagram and it just kind of went from there.”
From top: Jasmine Ataullah 9ct gold and sapphire Ohi necklace, £1,165, available at Jasmine Ataullah; Jasmine Ataullah 9ct gold and tourmaline Saahi necklace, £1,145, available at Jasmine Ataullah
The fire was lit. All she was missing were the techniques needed to create the pieces she envisioned. Jasmine started fresh, picking up Indian techniques that she learned about via books and YouTube videos in a bid to find something closer to her own heritage.
“It’s difficult to get information on purely Pakistani methods as Pakistan only became a country in 1947,” she says. “The first piece I designed that I remember being very connected to culturally was a Haveli window frame-like pendant. That was the first piece where I felt: wow, this is where it’s going.”
With a new aesthetic and a stronger sense of self, Jasmine set off on an eight-month long adventure through New Zealand with her partner. Throughout her trip, she created and sold her wares along the way. “We had a van and [my partner] built me a bench so that I could be silversmithing and making the money we needed in order to afford to stay out there,” she says. “When I came back from that trip, I set up my bench in my mum’s garage.”
Jasmine Ataullah during the judging for The Jewellery Cut Bursary 2021
As the Jasmine Ataullah brand gathered pace, she moved out of the garage and into Manchester, setting up a studio space in Salford’s creative arts hub Islington Mill. Later came the move to Brighton, where she says she “really feel like I came into my own.”
With a seafront workshop, which she shares with fellow jewellery designer Halina Mutinta, and an established Instagram following, the Jasmine Ataullah brand has grown exponentially, with sales coming in from as far as the US. “My clients are very loyal and come from all walks of life,” she says, noting that the jewels are bought by all genders. “Since creating more Indian-inspired pieces, I can see a rise in my South Asian customer base, which is great. I think it resonates with people who are British by situation but South Asian by heritage. They feel connected to it because the pieces I make are not super traditional. I create pieces that are an everyday reminder of heritage for the modern wearer. I am not trying to recreate Indian jewellery, but I am a designer who is culturally inspired.”
Being completely self taught has been an inspiring journey for Jasmine, but it has also given her a feeling of being shut off from the wider jewellery community. It was only by chance that she heard about The Jewellery Cut Bursary, an annual award that gives emerging jewellery designers that chance to win a coveted spot at London boutique jewellery show The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones, as well as a package of benefits including a Fuli Gemstones peridot and industry mentorship. “A friend told me about it,” she explains. “I hadn’t heard of it until then, but the moment I did, I knew I had to try my luck and apply.”
L-R: Jasmine Ataullah 9ct gold Inas hoop, £995, available at Jasmine Ataullah; Jasmine Ataullah 9ct gold Aida connecting chain, £390, available at Jasmine Ataullah; Jasmine Ataullah 9ct gold Sita clicker hoop, £280, available at Jasmine Ataullah
More than 40 jewellers applied for the 2021 bursary, with just four being shortlisted to face a panel of judges made up of industry experts. Alongside Holly O’Hanlon, Katherine Alexandra Brunacci and Katharina Kraus, Jasmine was one of the final four to be invited to present their work in London.
“When I had to be interviewed and show my pieces, it was really nerve wracking,” she remembers. “Because I didn’t really study jewellery design, it’s something that’s very personal to me, so I didn’t know how to prepare for a presentation. I was just hoping I’d be able to answer in a coherent way – at least string a sentence or two together. [One of the judges] Pia Tonna [chief marketing officer at Fuli Gemstones] saw how nervous I was. She told me to put my notebook down and just go for it. That was the energy I needed. I just spoke from the heart. I had never done anything like it before.”
It worked. The judges were entranced by Jasmine’s original approach to jewellery design and the quality of her work. The fact that she was almost entirely self taught was also seen as a bonus, as it showed she has huge potential.
Jasmine Ataullah shows her work during The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones 2021
Winning the competition would prove to be a fresh design challenge for Jasmine, as she set about dreaming up a design that would best frame the Fuli Gemstones peridot that was part of her prize. What she settled on was a gold ring with the peridot set on top. The design, which is a perfect canvas for Jasmine’s signature push-engraving, takes inspiration from the architecture of Islamic lands.
“This piece has been the most difficult project I’ve had to date, because I really wanted to push myself to make something that people haven’t seen,” she says. “I wanted to create a ‘wow’ ring that is also a nod to my heritage, as all my pieces have been.”
The ring made its debut within the book-lined rooms of The Royal Institution in London’s Mayfair as Jasmine exhibited her work at The Jewellery Cut Live in association with Fuli Gemstones in October – the ultimate prize of The Jewellery Cut Bursary. It was a moment that signified a career high for the designer, and a glowing affirmation that when you embrace who you truly are, wonderful things tend to follow.
The 18ct gold ring Jasmine Ataullah made using the Fuli Gemstones peridot she won as part of The Jewellery Cut Bursary