Saurabh Bhola – A Naturalist At Heart

Saurabh Bhola is a new star among the galaxy of Indian jewellery designers. His outstanding, new-world jewels that draw inspiration from Nature, are defined by organic and free-flowing forms enhanced with specially handpicked gems and Golconda diamonds. A gemophile by his own admission, Saurabh is a fitness enthusiast and an excellent cook. An artist with a philosopher’s bent of mind, the young designer is a people person, who enjoys spending time with gem dealers and clients. Little wonder then, all his magical creations have a soul!

Sensuous silhouettes are the hallmark of Saurabh Bhola’s one-off designs. Despite coming from a family of jewellers, Saurabh decided to hone his skills at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and later worked as a designer for Tiffany & Co., New York. The artist speaks to Solitaire International in an exclusive interview.

You belong to a family of jewellers … was it already written in the stars for you to follow the footsteps of your family business?

I always knew I was inclined to the creative and arts field, as all that I remember since my early days is that I would happily look forward to our art-and-craft classes. Without knowing much, I realised that I was the go-to person in my school for all things related to art and creativity. I was probably around 14 years old when I noticed that traditional jewellery, in general, was very repetitive and sometimes, unknowingly, mundane for clients.

That prompted me to design a necklace for my father’s jewellery store, which ended up in a bride’s trousseau. The fact that a piece I created was part of an emotional journey of a bride, opened a new dimension to me. I loved how a piece of jewellery has a connection with the wearer, it has a story to tell and emotions to pass down. At age 14, this incident was the beginning of my intimate connection with jewellery.

Saurabh Bhola

So did that trigger you to join any formal courses in jewellery designing?

The world of gems and jewels has always fascinated me. Ever since I remember, I have admired gemstones for their quality; I believe they possess a ‘silent soul’.

I pursued jewellery design at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York under the patronage of Mr. Maurice Galli, who headed the creative team at the house of Harry Winston.

While I was still pursuing my degree in jewellery, I started working for Tiffany & Company in New York as a designer and further went on to study Italian Design under the program called ‘Design Innovation, Made in Italy’ at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

I always feel a renewed sense of energy whenever I am surrounded by students from the jewellery fraternity, always full of curiosity and questions and for that reason, every once in a while, I attend L’École des Arts Joailliers in Paris.

For Saurabh, gems are sacred and enigmatic and when it comes to rubies the mystery associated with it gets even deeper. “I wanted to create a form following a serpentine course of the ring, winding and twisting … encapsulating the enigma of a glorious ruby!” says Saurabh. The form not just holds the ruby tightly, but also protects and preserves the majestic depth of the rich stone.”

When did you establish your eponymous brand? Where is your atelier/boutique based?

I had launched my collection in Fall-Winter 2019, after taking one year to design and materialise the collection. I am based in New Delhi and New York.

How has the journey been so far?

My passion is to create and see the pieces transform from a sketch to reality. From a pristine snow-capped mountain, to undulating curves of the underwater life, nature has always embraced its beauty with a melodious harmony.

As an artist, I am intrigued by this harmony, and co-existing of geometric and organic creations. And this harmony in nature has been my inspiration for a lot of my work. Just like nature evolves itself, so does my work.

“I have a vivid memory of my childhood when I would accompany my grandfather to a weekly farmers’ market secretly hoping to see a little flower vendor there. We’d happily pick up flowers for their intense fragrance,” recalls a nostalgic Saurabh. This childhood ritual made him fall in love with fragrant flowers and this is one reason why he always immortalises them into a piece of jewellery. Above is the gold brooch shaped like a Sweet Pea flower fashioned with emeralds, tsavorites, diamonds and sapphires.

Tell us more about the process from concept to creation … Do you create a story board around a gemstone, or do you sketch first and then go about sourcing the relevant gems?

My collection is an ode to nature. I try to capture a beautiful moment in the life of an every-changing and evolving natural world. My vision is to keep framing and capturing the beauty of the world that we see around us in a free-spirited way. I would continue doing one-of-a-kind pieces using gems that pull at my heartstrings. A lot of times a gemstone itself triggers the spark and inspires me to create a dwelling place for them.

How long does it take for each piece to come to life?

Most of the time a concept hits instantly, but sometimes it can take its own good-dwelling time. Once the imagery is clear, I sketch it out instantly and get to seeing it in an actual three-dimensional form. Once that is achieved, I get on to thinking what colours and texture would work the best and then move to manufacturing it. This whole process can take up to six months or a year.

Drawn to the undulating forms and the natural arabesques of vast underwater bodies, Saurabh found inspiration in Ricordea Mushroom Corals that have a unique bubble-like appearance.
“We see a beauty in this commotion — a dance of nature incorporating colours and textures,” observes Saurabh. These organic earrings employ diamonds and turquoise beads to recreate one of nature’s berry-shaped wonders.

You have an affinity towards gemstones and Golconda diamonds. Tell us more.

I would often hold Golconda diamonds and other important gemstones and gaze at them for hours … these hypnotic stones speak to me and have always had me fall more in love with them over and over again. I procure them from a fabulous age-old network of gemstone collectors.

Did you expect your rise to stardom in the world of jewellery would be so quick?

I have been creating and designing since a very young age. It is all about the joy of crafting a piece of jewellery. I am the happiest when I am creating with my hands. For the same, I pursued my studies in making sculptures and jewellery designing. To feel various textures and see beautiful colours and phenomenon in various gemstones is what excites me a lot.

As humbled as I feel by your question, I would say my passion to create is the sole driving force which takes me forward to discover all the new adventures of jewellery.

These pair of curvy earrings capture the spirit of the Calla Lily — the metamorphosis from a bud to a flower, demonstrating the process of life in motion. The earrings come to life with natural saltwater pearls, blue sapphires, and white diamonds.

What is a day in the life of Saurabh Bhola?

Most of my days begin with a good workout session. I like to dedicate some of my everyday time to health and fitness. Then I devote my time at the workshop or meet gemstone dealers. I love interacting with my clients … the energy they exude when they talk about jewellery and gemstones.

My evenings are spent catching up with family; sometimes I go for a bicycle ride, or I use my culinary skills to cook up a meal for my friends.

What are your hobbies?

I like to travel and explore new places, new museums, new exhibitions, art, and architecture. I am also very fond of gardening and cooking.

If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be?

I like to touch and feel a stone. I like to carve, sculpt, design, and render by putting my hands at work, so it’s very important to me that I do something which incorporates that aspect. So, If I was not a jewellery designer, I would have been a chef!

Do you follow any Indian or foreign designers?

I have always loved the work by Ambaji V. Shinde. Known as the ‘Jewel behind the Jewel’, Shinde’s contribution was not just limited to design or jewellery but immensely illuminated by the magical aura it would create for its wearer. I am also very fond of all the work by Suzanne Belperron and René Jules Lalique.

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