Roshni Singhal, Founder of Agaro Jewels, talks about celebrating the art of enamelling through chic and contemporary pieces; opting for traditional techniques and handcrafted elegance versus the accuracy and swiftness of modern manufacturing, and consciously retailing at a pace that befits the slow labours of love.
The term enamelling in Indian jewellery conjures up images of elaborate kundan and jadau pieces that have a hint of enamelling on the front while largely adorning the underside of the jewels. Agaro Jewel’s enamelled creations break the mould. They are chic, wearable, contemporary and still follow the traditional method of champlevé enamelling. The pieces revel in the technique’s chromatic beauty while putting forth a design language that is trendy yet timeless.
Bright pops of enamelling embellish charm bracelets, pendant necklaces, kettlebell earrings, stackable rings and more in 22-karat gold.
The strong presence of enamelling in the jewels stem from the brand’s founder Roshni Singhal’s love for the art form. The process is long and tedious and requires great mastery and skill but the result makes every moment of the laborious art worth it. For her, it conveys subtlety and richness at the same time. More so, each piece is handcrafted by deft artisans that have honed their skills over generations.
What drew you to the world of jewellery?
My father is a diamond manufacturer so although I have seen diamonds from a young age and thus well versed with them, handmade 22-karat gold jewellery with enamel is as different as it can get from traditional diamond jewellery. For me, it was the art of enamelling that first piqued my interest and paved the way for me to take up jewellery full time.
When did you start Agaro Jewels and how did you decide on the name?
I designed my first pieces in 2017 but it was not until a couple of years later that I really took it up full time. Agaro is derived from the Hindi word “angar” which means fire since the jewellery is fired in a kiln or hot oven. Agaro is also an acronym for my name, my husband Anshul’s and my son Agastya’s names. That’s how the name Agaro came about.
What is it about enamelling that caught your fancy?
Enamelling is something that I am drawn to. It is subtle and rich at the same time. I guess what excites me is the process of how glass melts and fuses with gold to give it the most luxurious feeling. I love colour and have always been a huge accessory lover, but over the years I couldn’t get myself to wear a whole lot of fashion jewellery as I am allergic to nickel.
Why did you decide to work particularly with enamel in your collections?
Most people think of Agaro as an enamel jewellery brand, but we also employ a lot of other ancient jewellery techniques. We use only 22-karat gold or higher and all our jewellery is completely handmade using age-old methods of metal forging, etc. Even our polishing is done by hand with natural gemstones just as they did back in the day. It’s not that I am exploring ancient techniques and trying to revive them. That’s a default. I am just drawn to the imperfections of handmade jewellery and find beauty in them!
What inspires your designs?
Mughal patterns and architecture, vintage fabric patterns such as Chintz, geometry and many other things.
What collection are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a collection of handmade chains featuring our signature hand-polished buttery finish in 22-karat gold.
Which is your most popular collection? How did it come about?
My most popular collection is our flagship Roya collection which consists of the big enamel pendants with or without initials and the rings. It started very organically. I had just completed my enamelling course in the UK, and I wanted to get a couple pieces made for myself with no intent of really starting a brand. I reached out to a friend who was making traditional jadau jewellery and gave her one of my ring designs, being very specific about the enamel work that I wanted on it.
Back then, most meenakari karigars worked on their own designs and were not very open to customisation. Anyhow with some insistence from my side she pushed him to take up the assignment, and I got 60% of the result based on what I wanted. I wore that cocktail ring almost everywhere, and it garnered a lot of interest from friends and family who wanted me to make something similar. I then travelled to Jaipur and got my next few pieces made directly from karigars for friends and family. It has been a hit since then.
Do you work on some of the pieces yourself? Are all the pieces made in Mumbai in your studio?
I don’t personally enamel the pieces, but I do get on the work bench at the finishing stages of almost every piece. Almost 90% of our jewellery is made at our studio.
You are very selective when it comes to retail? Why have you chosen this route?
I don’t have massive production capabilities. As I mentioned, the jewellery is entirely handmade at every stage, which is labour intensive and time consuming. So, we are selective of where we sell. Currently, we retail out of Le Mill in Mumbai and Vayu in Delhi. I would love to explore an option in Hyderabad if I come across a good match.
Tell us a little about your clients.
Agaro clients are jewellery lovers who are looking for an alternative to diamond jewellery; something unique and exquisite. Of course, they love enamel but what they grow to love the most after wearing an Agaro piece is the feel of hand-polished 22-karat gold against the skin.
Are there any jewellery designers that you look up to?
Some of my favourite designer brands are Taffin, Judy Geib, Hemmerle, and Anthony Lent.
If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be?
Definitely something to do with handcrafting. I love handmade creations, be it woven fabrics, embroidery or ceramics.