My Jewellery Journey

My name is Kavitha Balakrishnan. I am a jewellery designer, author and a silversmith. I create handmade, beautiful jewellery made from precious metals, stones and pearls. I am passionate about the craft of jewellery making and want to share my passion with you.

I am from India and am now live in London. Coming from a land where silver and gold jewellery are passionately worn for every festival, functions and events, it is no surprise that I chose jewellery making as my career. And India is a land of colors; we have a festival to celebrate colors; Holi. The Maharajas(kings) and Maharanis(Queens) of India were adorned with beautiful gems studded jewellery that had intricate workmanship. Every historical movie and famous epics of our country like Ramayana and Mahabharatha depicted the jewellery worn by the Royalty and the people of that era.

Being a spiritual person, I visit Hindu temples often. I admire the jewellery adorned by the deities. Special jewellery were made for them which was called “Temple jewellery”. The stones and the designs again were different. Even the Gopurams(a beautiful elongated structure on the roof) is also sometimes done in gold or silver. Spirtual seekers wear special beads called “Rudhraksham” which is obtained from a tree. This Rudhrakasham bead is supposed to be very powerful and protect the people who wear them.  People wear it when they are on a fasting, or when they do pooja, or on a pilgrimage tour etc.  In India, jewellery has a special meaning to everyone. Every jewellery has a story and an occasion to wear for. Each gemstone has a significance. I am die-hard fan of traditional jewellery that I also started blogging about them in https://mrinajewels.blogspot.in. (I am the author of the blog, named it Mrina because I loved the name). I also began writing a blog on Ganoksin, a forum for jewellers. http://userblogs.ganoksin.com/kavitha/. The blog has interesting stories about special jewellery worn for special occasions especially in my place, TamilNadu, south India.

Next I published a book on Amazon  about the terracotta jewellery of India. 

Another incident that made me think of getting into making jewellery is during my brother’s wedding. We were selecting jewellery for the bride and I found identical items in all shops which was very boring. I dislike factory and mass manufactured jewellery. I was looking for something very unique for the bride. So I decided to design something for her. I love rubies, so designed and gave it to the team in the shop. The output was not at all what I expected. The jewellery looked totally different from what I had visualized. This also made me think, is it difficult to bring the design what we visualize to reality?

To me, another form of spirituality is Yoga. The chanting of "Om" gives you such a spirtual feeling. I am very passionate about it and a great believer that mind needs to be in peace and connected to the nature and the universe. I have been practicing yoga for more than 12 years now. Yoga without proper breathing is just an exercise. So the postures and breathing when combined helps you to relax and energize. 

The traditional jewellery, their stories, the gemstones, Yoga, Spirituality all inspired me to design jewellery and make them.

I have always created Art – in one form or the other. Over the years I have dabbled in oil paintings, pot paintings, knife paintings, Batik and Bhandhini works. I also worked in the software industry for many years. But I have always been drawn to create, to make art. In jewellery making, I found my passion.

My journey

I wanted to start something that helped and empowered women in India to learn a skill that will help them to earn something from the comfort of their home. What made me do this was I met a lot of women who found it difficult to balance home and work. Being a mother myself, I too faced the same problems when my son was small.  In this context, I went to meet a lady to discuss about entrepreneurship in women; skills that we can teach them etc. She showed me some beautiful gemstone jewellery that she had made. I was attracted to it because I have seen them only in expensive jewellery shops and all along I have been thinking that it cannot be handmade. I wanted to know how it was made and asked her if she could teach me, but she was unwilling to help. I decided to find out myself. I would learn jewellery making. This chance encounter started my jewellery career.

Learning in India has its challenges; no one from the precious metal industry will teach jewellery making to outside people. It was a skill that was passed on to their own children for generations and there were always a particular community that made it. They all lived in the same area, very close knitted. And in India, each person was a master in a skill. For example, one person will melt and draw wire, then it goes to the next person for soldering, then next for engraving, another for polishing another for stone setting and another for enameling. Each lived in a different place in the same area. The jewellery passes many hands before it reaches the shop.

I met many gold and silver smiths and requested them to teach me; all were unwilling to share their knowledge. They also commented that it is not for women. I cannot work in heat blah blah.

This made me determined to learn it. And the more I learned the more I fell in love.

I enrolled at a jewellery institute in India, where most of the students were sons or daughters of gems and diamond merchants and jewellery wholesalers, exporters etc. Not being a from a family of jewelers and merchants and being a woman was a distinct disadvantage. There were many disparaging comments and many laughed about me wanting to be a jeweler. Again the same comments that it’s a laborious work, women can’t do it. Women were usually employed for bead stringing and assembling jewellery, not to work with metal. But I loved working with metal and after much hard work I, proudly received my “Diploma in Jewellery making”

As a part of passion for women empowerment and entrepreneurship development started an initiative called  “Myidentityforwomen”, where I taught jewellery making in terracotta. I believe a lot in in-person training, because in that way I can also get to know them. Many women started selling and few started teaching too. Http://facebook.com/myidentityforwomen

Recently my husband and I moved to London where I wanted to start my own brand Carline Perulla.

I love the name Carline, and Perulla partly represents the God Perumal that I worship. In Hinduism, He is the protector and also bestows prosperity. His wife Lakshmi is an important embellishment in most of the jewellery worn by women.

I love London, the people are very nice, encouraging and I love the place where we live; close to the temple dedicated to Lord Perumal and his consort. I also want to continue teaching jewellery making here and also in India whenever I travel. Each one have their own individuality and can represent that in their designs. I want Carline Perulla to be one showcasing platform where women from diverse backgrounds can sell their jewellery.

I want all women to know each other, work together as one community and progress. In our native language Tamil there is a saying "Yaadhum oore yavarum kelir". It means that the entire world is my home and all are our relatives. I believe a lot in that.