Suhani Pittie (1981- ) Suhani Pittie is an Indian jewelry designer who was born in Calcutta into a traditional business family. She calls herself a jewelry artist and is recognized around the world as one of the field’s most promising designers. After her marriage, she moved to Hyderabad where she opened her first flagship store with her husband and business partner, Stouvant Pittie.
In an interview she gave to Blouin ArtInfo India in April 2013, she said, “When I was seven, I saw [a piece of] amber in a book…” and reports she was drawn to the world of gems. “Of course, I didn’t know then that there was a related subject that I could actually study. But I always felt I wanted to do something with stones, and … got the chance to study at the Gemological Institute of America. So design was never planned!”
She graduated from the Institute at age nineteen. At age 20, Suhani established her own training institution where she taught the grading of diamonds and colored stones to pupils as young as 16 to as old as 78. Among these students were noted Calcutta jewelers. This work earned her the SinGem Award for Excellence in the field of gemology. She used the money she earned during this period to launch her self-branded label and another called, Zorya, in 2004.
Suhani’s work has always received accolades for inventive and groundbreaking interpretations of contemporary jewelry. A favorite among many Bollywood stars, her pieces have appeared at the Cannes Film Festival most often worn by L’Oreal ambassador Sonam Kapoor.
Her first collection, Grunge Begum was based on a traditional story about the Nizam of Hyderabad. It featured copper coins and beryls that gave it a regal feeling.
Her next work, a collection entitled, Free Religion, was free spirited like the gypsies and Jatra dancers who meander and move with their surroundings and become one with it. The primary components were copper, steel, and cheed (beads).
Suhani’s first cuff was beaten texture with mother of pearl and is one of her favorites because she introduced it to the traditional market while it also connected to the general buyer.
Her next effort, Urban Folk was a metropolitan kaleidoscope that reflected more modern perspectives. Following this she presented Child of Eden which was about going back in time and expressed her childhood love of Indian gardens and contained representations of peacocks and swans.
When discussing her creative process, Suhani emphasizes that she does not use any computer-aided designing systems or stencils. Her sketches are made on paper or directly on silver.
Also a columnist on accessories and fashion for multiple Indian publications including The Telegraph, India, she was the first Indian jewelry designer to participate in Miami Fashion Week ’07. Not long after exhibiting there, she was commissioned to create pieces for the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
In 2009, Suhani was a finalist at the Young Fashion Entrepreneur Awards held by the British Council and was chosen to showcase her collections to an audience that included Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji and took place at the Bal Samand Lake Palace in the Indian province of Jodhpur.
Suhani was selected to work with veteran artist Thota Vaikuntum to convert his miniature paintings into jewelry. In her Blouin interview, she described that experience.
“I was 25 when I was approached to do that collaboration. Naturally I was overwhelmed. … I thought I would make a complete fool of myself in front of him and the curators. Then, when I had my first meeting with him, the concepts just started flowing, like water. I did 10 sketches in 30 minutes, and it just worked. We made 14 pieces for the first project and they sold instantly… It’s really exciting to know that a bit of my work has already assumed heirloom value!”
Since working with Vaikuntum, Suhani has become more inclined toward interpolating an art element into her work. Her subsequent creations using, among other materials, wood and buttons are unique, one-of-a-kind, elaborate pieces.
According to Suhani’s official website, “Elle Magazine credits [her] for changing India’s perspective towards precious jewelry. [In addition] iconic auto brand Audi and south India’s leading magazine Ritz [bestowed] Suhani with the Audi Ritz Icon 2012 award.”
Her collection, Marshes & Marigold, created in 2008 for the WLIFW is an example of her interpretation of art upon jewelry. The styling is fashionable, feminine, art nouveau, and textured with each piece exquisitely hand painted. The jewelry that Suhani calls “jewel art” is available in stores across India and abroad as well as in the Museum of Arts & Design.
Among her latest collections is Dances with the Earth inspired by the ancient beauty that celebrates a form of paganism seen among early, indigenous tribes. Using copper, one of the first metals used by humans, the collection is dedicated to the spirit of tribes living in tune with Nature.
Swarovski commissioned Suhani to create exclusive designs for them as a part of their 10th Anniversary celebrations in India. Travel and lifestyle channel, TLC, chose to feature her work while she co-hosted with celebrity Lisa Ray in the Hyderabad episode of, “Oh My Gold.”
August 2016 saw the launch of Suhani’s jewelry collection called, Nowhere People that underscored the unrest, divide and barriers enslaving humanity in recent times. Spiraling bracelets inspired directly from handcuffs, bullet inspired belts, wrist armor, slings, angular body shields and chains depicting slavery emphasize these themes. Techniques including filigree, fire scaling, forging, fret work and granulation are explored in treatments utilizing Persian weaving, repoussé, sawing, opus interrasile, sinking, stamping and wiring. An assorted palette of materials serve as base for Suhani’s creations. These are represented in recycled, chipped wood, copper, perspex accompanied by self-dyed monochromatic fabrics, and synthetic pearls.
In October 2016, India’s Sunday Guardian announced the launch of Suhani’s collection of men’s jewelry. The collection is inspired by men who know what they want and strive to get it without compromising on personal values. Plated with 22k Gold or 92.5 Silver, this line boasts luxury for the style-savvy man.
In the collection, Suhani uses materials that contain steel, faux leather, wood, acrylic, copper and brass. Pieces include cufflinks, tie bars, collar tips, studs, and money clips. Also featured are neck pendants, rings and bracelets that are crafted in impeccable style and quality. The more traditional kurta, sherwani and bandhgala buttons reflect the brand’s well-known aesthetic. There are also new, never seen ornaments that are magnetic and screw-ons.
Furthering her offerings are works by skilled artisans across India that include USB drives, key chains, business card cases, and tie hangers.
The World Gold Council has named Suhani as one of the top 10 most inventive and ingenious jewelry designers in the world.
Of her many accolades and achievements, Suhani modestly says, “I am an artist and I would like to be known as one. Not just a designer, but, someone who could collate to a full vocabulary of design and create the most beautiful art pieces ever. My design vision is beyond boundaries hence there are no people or places influencing it.
“Nothing will take [the] place of traditional Indian jewelry and nothing should! It is one of the oldest industries and there is so much history, legacy and emotion connected to jewelry in our country. I salute this legacy. The one big change I see now is that the country is opening up to newer materials in jewelry and pieces that are more design-driven, and not bought only from the investment point of view.”