There's no way we can determine the black and the white of handmade fine gold jewellery. The coordinates that determine the possibilities just don't exist, unlike in the case of those that are churned out by machines or made the industrial division-of-labour way. Size is also an indeterminable quotient. Whether it's art or not is never determined by the measurement of the canvas, and those who price paintings (and painters) by square-inch are crass thickos. They fully deserve to have bad work by big-ticket artists who've sold their soul to commerce on their living room walls as lurid displays of wealth and pretend-sophistication. Bespoke gold jewellery — even the smaller pieces, entirely wrought by hand — speaks an altogether different language : that of good taste, deep sentiments, and a certain willingness to adorn oneself with what's precious, personal and of enduring value. Price is a necessary thought that occurs with the question of outlay but is hardly the be-all and end-all determinant of whether or not to get made a jewel that's so intimate as to be inseparable from the very soul of us. These two pendants are of precisely such a nature.
Pearly Paraselene Pendant
The first is a mother-of-pearl jewel where a slim frame holds the iridescent oval moon in place while a fine filigree fringe lace skirt covers a good part of it like a revealing veil. Entirely composed of faceted flat wires, the arabesque is intricate and embedded with pearls, and the hemline, undulating and with a border of single-ball jhurs, is frivolous without being naughty.
Note how the plain loop has a single pearl tied to its base to let it seamlessly integrate with the jewel's prevailing idiom. A pearly pulchritudinous paraselene pendant, this one, and made for a young university-professor who loves her shonar goyna and has a special affinity towards mother-of-pearl because of which she specifically commissioned this jewel. We made it like this so that she has ample fun wearing it.
Black Barfi Borderwala Rani-Guinea Pendant
A Queen Victoria guinea that'd been in the family for generations was given to us to make into a locket. The call was to shun the conservatism of the era and go baroque on this but history proved too strong to allow such waywardness and we settled into a luxe framing that referenced Victoria's 'veiled head' phase, the last of her sovereign imprints, in fact, before she passed in 1901. This 'old' Queen aspect of the coin and the fact that she'd been using jet jewellery quite a bit after Albert's demise led to the use of black in the enamelling. The detailing was kept simple : a continuous sabu-dana border encloses a series of polished gold and black-mina barfis, the former with a cinnamon roll on each that's been laid diagonally. The gaps between the diamonds are filled using single orbs, but the whole frame's still chaste open-work.The broad loop, just to maintain synonymity with the frame, has three diagonal flat wires soldered on it.
The result : a very simple but distinct framing of a classic guinea that has terrific graphic qualities, not least because of the repetitive motifs but also because of the contrast of black to natural gold.
As different as a cheque is from a Czech, these two pendants. But the similarities are striking, too. In both, the thought behind the jewel comes from a foreign article that has to be incorporated in the design in a way that makes them inseparable, i.e. the design remains incomplete without the article.
As such, the Pearly Paraselene and Black Barfi Borderwala Rani-Guinea Pendants, literally one black and the other white, show that in their heart of hearts there is no black or white — just a radiant humaneness to jewellery thus wrought by hand with utter sincerity and a flourish of real sentiments.
The universality of their beauty is left to you to judge.