Sara Taseer: A Multicultural Artist

Sara Taseer, the Singapore-based banker-turned designer, creates jewels that are a reflection of her experiences and the world as seen through a distinct lens.

When Pakistani banker Sara Taseer switched careers and began to embrace her cultural roots in her jewellery, bright things followed. She had a fledging jewellery career while living in New York and in the first few years, she focused on creating custom designs. Sara would regularly take her pieces to Pakistan, Dubai and Hong Kong and would sell out at the shows.

Sara Taseer

She then relocated with her family to Hong Kong. And that meant having to start all over again. Sara wasn’t one to shy away from challenges. “I knew I needed to be an expert in gemmology, diamonds, and manufacturing. It was sink-or-swim time for me – and I already had clients around the world. That led me to learn gemmology at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Hong Kong and the diamond graduate course. I also went to Bangkok and enrolled for courses on coloured stones,” says Sara, who launched her eponymous line in 2005 in Hong Kong.

With Hong Kong hosting many jewellery trade fairs, a steady stream of diamond and gem suppliers travel to the city. She now works with gem-cutters in Bangkok and India, sources diamonds from dealers in Israel and Hong Kong and works closely with manufacturers in Hong Kong, Thailand and Italy to create her collections.

The Lucky Rooster pendant in 18-karat rose gold comes to life with a baroque pearl and enhanced with diamonds and multicoloured sapphires.

The Singapore-based designer’s jewels are a reflection of her experiences and the world as seen through a distinct lens. “I value that I am an inherently an Asian designer – and the art, culture, history and motifs of this region excite me.” Sara tells gemmy stories that embody regional symbolism infused with European flair. “I focus on the wearability of my pieces.”

Many of her jewels – Raffles Bird Series and The British Raj – are highly detailed, employing layered gemstones, enamel, and intricate filigree to create dimension within each piece, while other lines like the Gen XYZ feature minimalist everyday pieces.

Sara’s collection British Raj is very close to her heart. With an English grandmother and an Indian later Pakistani grandfather, the romantic symbols of colonial India as well as the struggle for Independence, which my family participated in, stirred up fond memories. “I grew up listening to these tales. My collection embodies the sights and sounds of a time gone by. A struggle between the turban and the crown. Stories of valour bravery and pomp. I have celebrated this momentous time in the history of the subcontinent,” she explains.

What informs your jewels?

My creations are inspired by my love for Asia – its rich heritage and stories. However, they must be tales that resonate well with others. I love history, folklore, mysticism, and traditions. I try and present age-old symbols in a contemporary way that is easy-to-wear and connects with today’s generation. This is my inspiration as well as my challenge.

The Palanquin Trumpet Earrings crafted in 18-karat yellow gold are studded with diamonds and blue sapphires.

How have you reimagined the natural world across your collections?

The animals, birds, and flora that I depict in my collection are very representative of the tropics and wildlife found in Asia. Whatever I create needs to have a magnetic quality. Sometimes, the cuteness draws you to it and at other times, the realism or the colours excite the senses. I try to create birds and animals that have rarely been done before but represent these Asian regions.

The Shamsheer Sword Pendant wrought in 18-karat yellow gold is embellished with diamond, pearl, ruby, emerald, and malachite.

Do you work with multiple workshops across the globe?

Given that I don’t have my own atelier, I feel at complete freedom to work with factories around the world drawing from their unique expertise. Whether it’s using different cuts of diamonds, or flexible rings chains, dancing diamonds or different gold treatments, I experiment with many different techniques when creating my pieces.

How many collections do you launch in a year?

I create collections three to four times a year because my clients have come to expect this of me. I have hundreds of ideas and love to tell an entire story with my collection. I also stop producing older collections after a couple of years. This is to give it a finite life so that pieces remain unique and become collectable pieces. My latest collection is one of the tropical birds of the South Asia and Southeast Asia.

What new pieces are you designing?

I’m working on an Old Shanghai collection steeped in the tradition of Art Deco, it embodies Chinese historic symbolism. I’m also broadening my concept of the Raffles Bird Collection with birds found across Southeast Asia.

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