Rajesh Soni’s stone on stone designs are eye-catching.

When designer duo Ashok and Jugal Kishore conceived of a stone on stone jewellery line based on the ‘pietra dura’ or precious stone inlay work done on the Taj Mahal’s marble walls, they turned to goldsmith Rajesh Soni to give life to their vision. Precious stone inlay work, done on semi-precious stones, requires a high degree of expertise and Rajesh decided to bring his skills of ‘pakai’ and ‘chillai’ of traditional kundan work to this form.

How did he do it? He replies, “With hand tools of various thicknesses.” Pointing to a sapphire bead necklace inlaid with rubies and diamonds, he says, “Whatever the base (stone or bead), we begin by carving out the design on the surface to the depth required. This is called ‘khan.’ After this, tiny holes are drilled in that area to hold the gold which in turn holds the stones. The holes are filled with thinnest gold, untouched by hand. The inner boundary of the design is also similarly filled with gold after which we carefully place the stones. This is a delicate, time-consuming process. No glue is ever used to fix the stones.”

Rajesh’s creations, specially made for ‘Akshaya Tritiyai,’ are lyrical in both concept and impeccable execution. Iranian nephrite jade globules, each featuring tiny diamonds and ruby motifs; a necklace of blue sapphire beads with diamond florets; an emerald pendant worked with a spray of Mughal flowers; a black onyx bead necklace, with diamond and ruby rosettes… every piece is stunning and unique.

“We also do tiny individual inlay work pieces and beads with both precious and semi precious stones” says Ashok. “You can become a designer by sitting with Rajesh and stringing your chosen inlay work piece or pieces according to the design of your choice.”

The Mughal Art on Inlaid Stone exhibition opens on Akshyaa Tritiyai day (May 12) at Jugal Kishore Jewellers, 144/73, basement (Kalpataru complex), C.P. Ramaswami Road. It’s on till May 15.