There are times when we’ve been asked to make matched handswear for the main set that includes usually a necklace, a pair of earrings and a ring. In this case, to match the KajalLata Necklace of 2012 vintage, we re-designed the earrings and instead of a separate ring and bracelet combined the two to create a unique single ratan-choor that takes the forms and motifs of that iconic jewel and blends them to spectacular effect.
The kajal-latas, in miniature, as alternating long and short matchsticks or piano hammers, are arrayed along two sides of the kamal tipki-ball chain, and the procession of gold briolettes dazzles the eye.
From the centre, attached to two of the briolettes with simple rings, is the linked line of the actual KajalLata pieces gently graduated till the ring. But the first and the third are voids! — imagine that. They’re just an outline of fine wire, no more no less. The second is a patinated piece with primal motifs on it just as in the necklace while the final kajal-lata on the ring is the jaal-karai version that’s backed by a mirror-finished panel and has on the mesh the trademark multicoloured enamel flowers.
All this is done to ensure the jewel matches perfectly the necklace in both its guises : antique and modern. That ornament was a ‘convertible’, remember, that had the mina jaal-karai on one side and the ethnic Manipuri patterns on the reverse. In the ratan-choor a combination of the two kinds of workmanship was required on the same side as it needed to be flat to ‘sit’ comfortably on the hand.
Now, for the ‘twist’ in the tale : Look carefully at the band of the ring. Doesn’t it seem to rest flat on the same plane as that of the wristlet and that cascade of kajal-latas? If it does, it does, but why it buckles so is critical to the understanding of the jewel and how it hides in its details an extraordinary secret.
The band, shaped like a keyring, is passed through a small loop at the back of the enamelled kajal-lata. It’s detachable. You turn it in a circle to take it off. What you have then is the wristlet with that plunging line of solids and voids that becomes immediately a clever, curious and comely choker. Now you have a two-in-one jewel that’s almost improbable to think of but succeeds splendidly as both an eye-catching neckpiece and a recherché ratan-choor.
It’s always more interesting to lead a double life, even if we’ve ensured it’s a declared secret, as long as it impacts the broader society and our own family and friends never negatively.
For those of us who do or did or could or should or might or intend to, this jewel will become us and speak to us with directness and determination. For all else who thus far have followed the rather glum straight-and-narrow, the KajalLata Ratan-Choor will be a powerful jewel that empowers you equally and encourages you to be who you are instead of who you are told you ought to be.