The pieces that The Line makes are spare and minimalist. Each element is thought through. Speaking to Natasha Khurana, the designer behind the New Delhi-based jewellery label, it is clear she embodies that herself with a direct way of speaking and a personal style that veers towards clean lines and chic minimalism. We met recently during the launch of her new collection – Songbirds, a collaboration with UK-based mining major, Gemfields. At a recent media preview in Mumbai’s Soho House, the collection comprising mainly of earrings, necklaces and chokerswas displayed along one wall while Natasha milled about answering questions from those in attendance.
During a subsequent interview, she shared how the collection draws on Indian traditions. “Most of the silhouettes in this collection have personal relevance – like the taveez, kaan chain, chaandbali, or ladhi.” The collection’s name Songbirds then takes from the fact that birds have timeless, distinctive songs that are much like the country’s timeless jewellery design.
Speaking about the collaboration, Natasha says, “My instinct was to take India to the world. For centuries we’ve been the world’s cutting, polishing, and manufacturing centre and we have a vast canon of our own distinct jewellery style. I wanted to take that legacy, and attempt it my way, with our customary lightness.”
Besides the country, there is also an element of personal history, with the designer reminiscing , “I remember my mother in her pearl choker paired with saris in the 90s, and that memory actually inspired one of the pieces in this collaboration, the Geeta, which I also named for her.” The only brief from Gemfields to Natasha, she says, was to hero the rubies and emeralds. “Gems always lead the way for me. And especially with coloured gems, it’s instinctive, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When I saw the Gemfields pear-shaped rubies, for example, I knew that they had to be hung away from the skin, to let the light pass through, that they were going to be chaandbalis.”
Apart from the chaandbali, the pieces include a delicate kaanphool, tracing the shape of the ear while being interspersed with Zambian emeralds and rose-cut diamonds is ornamental without being ostentatious. The Akoya pearl and emerald chokers are both similarly beautiful. It is the earrings though, that is most inherently Indian with the circle recurring as a design element — either in the form of a hoop that’s adorned with coloured stone detailing or the chand bali-inspired half moon design.
Since starting The Line in 2015, Natasha has worked with local artisans for everything from cutting to polishing and setting stones. For Songbirds, she notes, “Pirohi, or the art of stringing gems, is an Indian speciality that sadly isn’t as popular as it used to be. This is the first time I have attempted it in my work. And the simplest looking things, are often the most deceptive. There’s a lot of balancing that goes into stringing.”
For Natasha, her designs are led by the stones she finds, as she says, “Gems always lead the way for me, and especially with coloured gems.” She is looking forward to seeing where the stones lead her designs in the future.
The jewellery collection can be purchased on gemfields.com