Roshni Singhal, the founder of jewellery brand Agaro, was born in Mumbai into a family of diamond-cutters. With her father as her mentor, Roshni quickly gained the ability to identify the properties of different diamonds and became intensely passionate about them.
Today, Roshni draws inspiration from the various cultural and mythological symbols of India to design heirloom-quality jewellery. She then works with 8th and 9th generation master artisans to turn her vibrant one-of-a-kind designs into a reality using old world craftsmanship. We chat with Roshni about her obsession with the ancient art of Meenakari and why she hopes her brand will help save it.
When did you first fall in love with jewellery?
“I was born into a family of diamond-cutters and crafters, so you could say jewellery is in my DNA. However, realising that designing jewellery was my dream wasn’t so straightforward. It took an IT project with a New York-based jeweller to stop my corporate career in its tracks. Seeing jewels come to life with art and meaning was what really excited me and left me in wonder. So, I made the leap and moved to the other side of the table, taking up independent jewellery design full time, and making beautiful jewellery creations come to life.”
How has your childhood influenced your designs?
“I was raised in Mumbai by a family steeped in the traditions and techniques of jewellery. My father has been a constant source of inspiration where my designs are concerned. As well as my role model and mentor in my early years, I also have fond memories of the many hours spent at his enchanting workshop. A typical Saturday would involve my brother and I counting and weighing gemstones and peering into the eye glass to find wrinkles and beauty spots in the stones, which we found fascinating.”
"Agaro was created to celebrate the tradition and heritage of this ancient art of jewellery-making."
What drove you to start your own jewellery line?
“My love for, and obsession with the art of Meenakari. This ancient art of enamelling, which features heavily in my jewellery, tells the stories of jewellery crafts-folk in the courts of Mughal India, originally hailing from Persia. Their enamelling techniques are pieces of regal context and immutable natural beauty of their time. With everything in India becoming more westernised, I feel this art is fading away. Agaro was created to celebrate the tradition and heritage of this ancient art of jewellery-making, to fuse it with our modern practices.”
Where do find inspiration for your designs?
“My inspirations are drawn from a multitude of things, cultural and mythological symbols of India, of both her past and present. From the impressive architecture of Mughal and Rajput fortresses to frescoes found in the tiniest crevices of abandoned Indian havelis. They’re drawn from religious and sentimental vernacular art forms hand painted on rickshaws, and the iconic Indian trucks with their doting owners. The impressions India leaves on me all come together in the Agaro workshop, where we turn ideas and images into richly designed pendants, bracelets and earrings.”
"I still have to take a step back sometimes, take a deep breath and be thankful for this decision, and everyone around me who supported me in being true to myself"
What is the best thing about being a designer?
“Seeing each of my jewels come to life is a high point. From ink on paper to gold inlaid with gemstones and intricate patterns - I still have to take a step back sometimes, take a deep breath and be thankful for this decision, and everyone around me who supported me in being true to myself and what I wanted to do. At the centre of all of this is my workshop, and the people in it; they are both my muses and those who create the work I convey, so being able to work so closely with them every day is an honour and a constant highlight.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear a piece of your jewellery?
“My jewels are for a woman who are strong and compassionate; a woman who is unrestricted and a woman who is not afraid of being true to who she is. Agaro is the kind of jewellery which says something, makes a statement, using a collection of nuances; and so, the women who choose to wear them do so stepping boldly into the world where they are unapologetically female. This strength, now more than ever, is important for women in India and in the world at large - and those who choose my jewels embrace and reflect that.”
What does the future hold for Agaro?
“My journey with Agaro has only just begun. I get inspired on a daily basis and I always have one too many design ideas which need to be expressed. I go with the flow, I have no goals I have envisioned for myself, just enjoying the process and I’m delighted that other women seem to want to join me in my journey. So, let’s see where the future takes us.”