Anchor and actor Gayathri has turned jewellery designer with Varsha Jewellery. She says locating and recreating traditional jewellery was a therapeutic experience
When she is not designing jewellery Gayathri is acting or anchoring television shows. These are her passions and she has managed to straddle them efficiently.
Gayathri has acted in about a 100 Malayalam films, a clutch of television serials and hosted two popular television shows. Designing jewellery happened by chance. “Alex Peter, a family friend, had this jewellery store (Varsha Jewellery) at Karingachira (near Tripunithura). He switched to making alternate jewellery, more popular here as one-gram gold jewellery. I began helping him with designs, especially jewellery for dance. When this caught on I was asked to join in the business, which I did. Since 2008, I have been actively involved in this enterprise,” says Gayathri, who debuted in CID Unnikrishnan B.A. B.Ed and was noticed for her roles in films such as Meesa Madhavan, Thalapaavu, Pathram, Nandanam, and Romans. She also anchored shows such as Akkathalam, Sthreeparvam, and Veetamma.
There was a time when jewellery meant gold. That’s not the case today. Jewellery designers and artisans have begun to use other metals, crafting them into high-quality, durable and stylish jewellery. “Mostly youngsters have become very appreciative of these alternatives. We make gold-filled jewellery which is not to be confused with gold plating. It is an actual layer of gold pressure bonded to another metal. This is much more valuable and tarnish resistant. It does not flake off, change colours, and is non-allergenic. It is economical and resembles gold.”
Gayathri and Alex believe that it has been their ‘no-compromise on quality’ policy that has been the watchword for success.
“All our jewellery pieces are handcrafted by traditional artisans. They used to work on gold and we trained them to work in the same way on the copper base. That makes a lot of difference in the intricate crafting and perfection. We use the same semi-precious stones that other regular jewellers do. And for our diamond-packed designs we use zirconia, an inexpensive diamond substitute. Zirconia can be transformed into the same cuts and shapes used for diamonds and coloured gemstones.”
They have five definite sections, Megha Malhar (antique), Specta (trendy), Devaraga (temple and dance jewellery), Devangana (traditional) and Aura (diamond). “We have over 10,000 exclusive designs. Most of the pieces are made to order and are mostly one-of-a-kind. Dancers like Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Vineeth, Navya Nair and Divya Unni call us for their requirements. Also on our client list are actors like Parvathy Jayaram. All of them demand exclusivity of design.”
Locating and recreating traditional and antique jewellery was a therapeutic and creative experience, says Gayathri. “I travelled; I do it even now, from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in search of our old ornaments. And what we have recreated, I feel, is like bringing a rich legacy to life. We now have 5,000-odd such forgotten designs like the mukkolakku or the ottathaali.”
Challenges there are but Alex and Gayathri are geared up to meet them. “Availability of stones and skilled labour are the major challenges. A lot of mediators work in the sale of stones, while there are only a handful of real artists now working in this field. But for these six years we have been doing well. Strangely, while most of our clients are from others States and different parts of Kerala, very few customers from our neighbourhood have really understood us,” feels Gayathri.