aurabh Bola was born into gemstones. His family has created jewellery for generations, and it never occurred to him to do anything else. He studied jewellery design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York under Maurice Galli, head of the Harry Winston creative team. After graduation, he was spotted by Tiffany & Co. He began designing for the brand, but duty called him back to India to work in the family business. He put aside his dream of inventing his own pieces and infusing them with a contemporary spirit to create traditional jewellery. The only problem was, a calling like his demands to be heard – it rejects silence and oblivion.
- Saurabh Bola at the Designer Vivarium, GemGenève 2022
- ©David Fraga
In 2018, upon discovering an antique Navratna bracelet of royal provenance, Saurabh Bola had a revelation: the ancient stones on the bracelet were longing for a new life, and he was the one to give it to them. His first collection, launched in autumn 2019 and called Metamorphosis, is an ode to nature. It earned him the Centurion Emerging Designer of the Year award in 2020. He also presented the collection at GemGenève in the Designer Vivarium, where his jewellery clearly exerted a strong pull on visitors. His pieces all have a story to tell; they want you to stop for a moment and listen.
The young Indian jeweller’s creations are a precious tribute to ancient stones and changing nature, as he explains: “Nature is constantly changing, but I try to capture certain fleeting moments: the moment when a leaf falls from a tree, for example. One second it’s there, the next it’s gone. But I am a witness to that moment. It’s the same with a flower: it’s beautiful when it’s in bud, when it’s blooming, but also when it’s fading.”
“Nature is constantly changing, but I try to capture certain fleeting moments.”
When you look closely at his jewellery, you have the feeling that he creates with all his senses: the eyes, the touch, but also the ears. When you look at a flower ring set with an emerald, you think you can see it dancing, just as you can imagine the ceramic petals of his sweet pea brooch fluttering gently.
Saurabh Bola knows how to listen to the silent stories that the stones, and everything around him, whisper to him. He has a very idiosyncratic way of creating. First, his raw materials are all sourced from the family business’s stock of treasures. When an old jewel, gemstone or material inspires him, even if he doesn’t know yet what he will do with it, he sets it aside and waits for inspiration to strike. “Look at this pair of earrings set with ancient natural pearls that belonged to a powerful dynasty: they were set in a very traditional way. I looked at them for a long time and I had the feeling that they were calling out to me that they wanted a modern home. That’s what I did: I gave them a new life.”
Saurabh Bola knows how to listen to the silent stories that the stones, and everything around him, whisper to him.
Gemstones fascinate him. He can stand still indefinitely, gazing at a Zambian emerald, observing its inclusions and its unique imperfections. “It is a dialogue between the stone and me. I am hypnotised: it puts me in a state of euphoria in which I let myself be absorbed,” he explains. He points to a beetle set with a Golconda diamond. “The first time I saw a scarab I was in South India, near the Golconda mines. When I created this beetle, I thought: what if I used a Golconda diamond that belonged to my family? It was set in a ring but it didn’t want to stay there. Its provenance is prestigious. It wanted to be seen, loved, and worn by someone who would appreciate it.”
- This sweet pea brooch is designed in a revolutionary soft pink ceramic.
On a presentation tray, a soft pink ceramic sweet pea radiates delicacy. Its material is the result of extensive research and is virtually indestructible. “When I was young, I used to go to the market with my grandfather and we would bring back armfuls of sweet-smelling flowers. I didn’t know their names then, but the bouquet would include tuberose and sweet peas. My grandfather would arrange them near a fan so that the fragrance would fill the room. He is no longer with us, but I created this piece to immortalise a memory. I’ve reached a point where I want to feel free, without outside influence: a blank canvas. When I create jewellery, I set myself free.”