I first met Vasant (pictured, right) at JCK Las Vegas and had the pleasure of bumping into her again at NY Now. Vasant is a warm soul and always evokes a smile when I see her. She has a deep appreciation not only for her work, but for the effect that it has on her audience. We sat down for dinner among an incredible group of women, and she had us all in fits of laughter by the end of the evening. I quickly noticed she’s never shy to lend a helping hand or offer a suggestion to an emerging designer (i.e., me) who needs to be pointed in the right direction. I’m captivated by her work’s beauty as are many within the jewelry scene. Don’t just take my word for it. You can judge for yourself by perusing these shots of her stone-intensive jewelry and learning a bit more about this seasoned fine jeweler by hearing it all directly from her.
There is not much about you on your website. Can you tell us more about your design philosophy, how you got your start, and why you chose jewelry as your vocation?
Vasant: I started off in the healing arts, involved in body work and spiritual counselling. I went to India for a month on a yoga retreat and had spent some time with a jeweler to design a sapphire necklace for myself. It was stunning. The friend I was with told me to make more, but I proclaimed “No, I’m in the healing arts.” I can still imagine him rolling his eyes at me. Lo and behold when I was back in the states, no matter where I went, people asked me about the necklace. I literally had people stopping me on the street to ask me where I got it. The next time I went back to India I took my friend’s advice and made quite a few more necklaces. Again, back in the states they sold in a matter of days. I like to think that I didn’t choose jewelry, but jewelry chose me!
Earrings in 14k rose gold with chalcedony and turquoise
What is your favorite gemstone? Why?
Vasant: This is an impossible question! This is like asking me to decide between my children. I’m drawn to many different gemstones, and there is no favorite. But I do have an affinity for sapphires. It’s what started my journey after all!
Do you believe in a stone’s metaphysical properties? Why or why not?
Vasant: Absolutely. I’ve seen it action. My clients come to me and tell me what’s going on and they’ll pick up a piece here or there and then I’ll say, “Hey, try this piece on.” It’s amazing to watch them light up. For example, someone trying to mend a broken heart will benefit from wearing rose quartz. My clients are amazing, and I feel like they play an important role in my art. They make my work even more beautiful. I love to work with people and help make them feel better. It’s nourishing to me to help others. I can’t believe I get paid for it. My driving force is helping others realize their best self.
Necklace in 24k gold vermeil moss aquamarine with aquamarine pendant
What retailer do you think provides the most support and respect for the jeweler today? Can you describe your relationship with them?
Vasant: My work does the best in fine jewelry stores, galleries and fine art museums. As 90 percent of my necklaces are one-of-a kind, they are seen as art pieces and do quite well in these types of venues.
Drop earrings in 24k gold vermeil with chalcedony and blue topaz
Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire? What attracts you to them and their work?
Vasant: I love that we’re not all the same. Alishan is amazing and such a sweet man. I adore him and his wife Lydia, and I’m excited to see them in Tuscon. Marcel Roelofs is a fabulous designer not only with his work, but in the way he presents it at the shows.
Necklace in 24k gold vermeil apatite with blue topaz and labradorite pendant
How do you contribute to building community within the jewelry industry?
Vasant: It’s by connecting with other people at the shows, talking to new designers, and, most importantly, being respectful to one another. I do my best to take care of the retailers and show them respect. Because I pride myself on building these relationships, I often see it shown back to me by fellow jewelers and retailers alike. Lori Gadola from Kelim is so warm, friendly, helping, and giving. She’s just a great woman. She’s helped me when I was new, and now I do my best to give back. It’s a big, beautiful circle. There is nothing to be threatened by giving, we were all there once. I wish more designers and retailers would embrace this credo a bit more.
Ring in 24k gold vermeil and sterling silver with chalcedony
Why are you excited for JCK Tucson?
Vasant: Nina Mancini, JCK Design Center account executive, is amazing, and I feel she really is listening. I feel like the JCK team put 100 percent of their effort into this show. They’ve created an intimate and luxurious environment. I really like that it is a small show, and the caliber of people that will be attending is quite impressive.