Silvern's trousseau collection combines contemporary designs with antique filigree work
REAL SILVER JEWELLERY, made with filigree work, is an antique craft that has been around since the 17th century, but somehow, mainstream popularity has eluded it. Kolkata-based entrepreneur Smridhi Kajaria is one of few people who has revived the craft through her label, Silvern.
The label started out in 2015 with gift items like an antique paan box and photo frames, before it gradually veered towards a trousseau collection, with earrings in geometric shapes, or natural designs like the shape of a star anise seed, a five-petal flower or half a butterfly, all starting at Rs 3,000.
“There’s a huge market for wedding gifts, which I wanted to explore with this craft, as everybody wants to give something exquisite and unique these days,” explains Smridhi, a member of the Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh.
“There’s no limit to what you can do with filigree — you can create anything and everything with it,” says Smridhi, a mother of two, who designed a vintage Cadillac car, inspired by one of her son’s books, which is priced at a whopping Rs 1,40,000. It’s a very stylish gift for men and has small doors with hinges, and wheels that run on a surface. There are roller pens with changeable refills for Rs 5,000, silver paper clips for Rs 3,000, and a bookmark with a butterfly motif for Rs 2,500. A completely functional clutch we saw, made with filigree work, has enough capacity for some cash, keys and a cell phone, which comes at Rs 40,000. It will make for a perfect wedding gift, for a would-be bride and her friends.
But the Ganesha statue at Rs 6.5 lakh clearly remains the most exorbitant piece of work here. The entire idol is created with filigree wires and has a separate pair of gold-plated jewellery and a sacred thread, all crafted by hand. We are told, it took around eight months, to complete the idol. A trained artist in Tanjore painting, Smridhi makes her own designs, which includes delineating the thick outlines of the structure. It is then filled up with different patterns by the karigars, on a wooden tray, and the joints are welded together.
“This process requires more time and perseverance, quite unlike the dye-cast work, where you pour the silver into a mould and shape it. That helps in bulk production, but the finishing is not too clean,” reveals Smridhi. We were quite impressed with the huge leaf-shaped pendant, which carries in its delicate formation, the slight undulations found on a real-life withered leaf.
Another neckpiece has the motif of a traditional village belle, wearing a huge nose pin, straight out of Thota Vaikuntham’s painting, which sits prettily on a hansuli necklace. This would make for a kitschy gift, for that artistic friend who never seems to like any commonplace item, bought from the market.