Continuing traditions: A way forward for Art jewellery in India

‘India, like no other country on our planet, can rightfully boast of an unbroken heritage of jewellery design that spans atleast 5000 years and extends back into antiquity. Its people have expended limitless energy and creativity in the invention of ornaments that celebrate the human body and in developing opportunities for their use. By adorning the visible, material body, they also seek to satisfy a universal longing for the embellishment of its intangible counterpart: the human spirit.’ Traditional Jewelry of India by Oppi Untracht

There are many key words here that would ring familiar to the contemporary world of Art Jewellery. However, it is the word ‘unbroken’ that renders versatility to the traditions and subsequent evolution of Indian jewellery.

Ancient Indian jewellery, whether tribal or classical, of metal or organic material, refined or primitive, was rife with symbolism and stories of the people who wore it, accounting for communal identities, marital status, social hierarchies, etc. And as it developed in isolated pockets, the jewellery in each area spoke through distinct vernacular languages and textures.

Today, even though the jewellery looks the same, the stories have long been lost.

In my humble opinion, it is imperative to document, study and evolve from these traditions before they are lost to us in these fast changing times of globalization.

This would be particularly challenging, as most art courses don’t actively include the study of jewellery.

It thus inevitably follows, that collaborative efforts are made towards developing a dedicated space, such as a museum or an institute: a dynamic space that allows for scholastic studies, new dialogues and for the showcasing of past traditions and continuing and evolving traditions in jewellery.

Sham Patwardhan-Joshi

Thinking Hands

Thinking Hands

Sham Patwardhan-Joshi

Sham Patwardhan-Joshi

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself.


Assistant Teacher for Jewellery Design,

University for Applied Sciences and Art



Guest lecturer: “Accessory Design

School of Fashion Technology, Pune India


Cultural Program Assistant

Goethe Institute Pune-India.


Diploma: Metal Design “HAWK“ Hildesheim

University for Applied Sciences and Art



Freelance Decorator: instrument/furniture

Till 1996

InterpreterTranslator for Indian and German Firms


German language Masters Studies DaF     University Bielefeld,Germany


Intensive German language courses

Goethe Institute, Pune, India


Bachelor of Commerce

Pune, India

2. How would you describe your journey as a contemporary jeweller?

Journey to jewellery. It took 45 years to get  realized. The process started actually in montessory kindergarten.

I cannot say which is my signature style- better ask other who know me and my works.

I use all kind of materials, like metal, paper, cloth, organic and  synthetic materials.

Technique: extensive use of lost wax method



3.What inspires you?


4.What direction do you see your work taking over the next 5/10 years?

Given all facilities with well equipped workshop, I will be able to continue with lost wax method.

My work will become complicated in appearance.

5.What are your thoughts about the contemporary jewellery field evolving in India?

A lot to say but still too early to compare Indian contemporary jewellery with European scene. Chances for young people are not enough to express their ideas. Jewellers and art collectors know less about this particular subject.

Indian designers are still stuck to traditions and traditional designs. That is only a repetition or copying.
The high class jewellery as well as designs were made only during Mughal times.
People are repeating them. The artisans have no way to develop their skills because of demand for traditional type of jewellery. The jewellery dealers are not aware of western developments, so are the educational institutions.
This attitude is holding back young aspirants. There is no question of lack of finances but willingness and proper design education.

6.List of publications, projects and exhibitions that you’ve been involved in.

MineralArt, Idar-Oberstein 2014

Group exhibition, Antiquariat Dieter Zipprich, Munich, Germany 2014

Cominelli Foundation Award, Padova, Italy 2013

Exhibition:mit Esther Brinkmann Schweiz, Georg Dobler, Margit Jäschke India 2012

Workshop mit Georg Dobler and Margit Jäschke,School of Fashion Technology (SOFT) India, 2012

“RITUAL” 21st Legnica International Jewellery Competition, Legnica Poland 2012

7th CHEONGJU International Craft Competition, South Korea 2011

“500 Rings” Lark Crafts Sterling Publishing Co., Broadway Asheville USA 2011

“Hochdosiert-Kunsthandwerk in Dosen“ Handwerksmuseum Deggendorf Germany 2011

“SEXY” 20th Legnica International Jewellery Competition, Legnica Poland 2011

“MINIMUM” 19th Legnica International Jewellery Competition, Legnica Poland 2010

(Honorable mention)

“Six Pack”Jewellery Design Competition, Greencard Crative Inc. New York USA 2010

C. Hafner, „Material and Design: “Form Follows Function“ RRH Stipendium Germany 2009

“Silber für den Altar 1900 bis heute” Museum Kestnerium, Hannover Germany 2009.

Friedrich Becker Preis, Germany 2008

“EXCLUSIVE” 17th Legnica International Jewellery Competition, Legnica Poland 2008

C. Hafner, “Creating independent Design with precious metals and other materials,RRH Stipendium Germany, 2007

“Family Members” Firma Münchow, Berlin Germany 2007

New Traditional Jewellery Competition, Amersfoort The Netherlands 2007

“Cup and Paten “competition of Regional Church in Hannover Germany 2005

(Purchase of work by the Church of Hannover)


“Tradition – Possession and Beyond” with Esther Brinkmann, Georg Dobler and Margit Jäschke, Pune India 2012

”Jewellery Design” with Georg Dobler and Margit Jäschke, School of Fashion Technology (SOFT) Pune India, 2012

“RITUAL” 21st Legnica International Jewellery Competition” Legnica Poland, 2012

“MINIMUM 19th Legnica International Jewellery Competition” (Belobigung) Legnica Poland, 2010

“Silber fuer den Altar. 1900 bis heute” Museum Kestnerium Hannover Germany 2009

“EXCLUSIVE 17th Legnica International Jewellery Competition” Legnica Poland, 2008

The Compendium Finale of Contemporary Jewellers 2008,

(Nominated by Karl Fritsch)Darling Publications, Germany, 2008

(first Indian Jewellery Designer for Contemporary Jewellery)

“Cup and Paten”, Regional Church of Hannover, Germany 2005

7.Where can one buy your work?

Only from me.

Green rose 1

Green rose 1





On the wall:   peter doig

On the pod:   currently none, but maria callas, cecilia bartoli, Lata Mangeshkar till 1970, Claudio Arrau-Chopin works, and many more

In the drive:   none

On the shelf: 70 books out of 100 by P.G.Wodehouse. Plan to have all.

Green rose 2

Green rose 2

‘Tit-elation': brooches for men

In September this year, a leading Indian newspaper resorted to its usual sensationalist tactics by posting ‘entertainment news’ of an actress’ cleavage.

Unexpectedly, however, the actress took a stand and boldly spoke out.

You can read her point of view here.

Soon after, I made these 2 brooches in response to the controversy.

Tit-elation: elated tits for men….to wear, to grope and to fondle.

sterling silver

Photograph by Pankaj Mishra

Tit-Elation: Brooches for men

Tit-Elation: Brooches for men


Gulmohar or the Flame Tree is an ornamental tree that flowers in Delhi in spring.

The pendant cum brooch captures the joyful ecstacy of this beautiful species as it blossoms.

The piece is made in sterling silver and weighs 20 gms. It measures 5 X 4.5 cms.

Gulmohar: Front

                                                                                     Gulmohar: Front

Gulmohar: Back

                                                                                         Gulmohar: Back

Some initial thoughts on Project Bawra

India has a definitive nature and a strong cultural voice of its own. A lot of the contemporary jewelers however, tend to work in isolated pockets. Project Bawra is a callout to bring all contemporary jewellers in India under one umbrella towards developing a cognitive movement.

I do strongly believe though, that India deserves to have a national show before it welcomes International artists into the domestic arena to avoid being overwhelmed by the language of the west. This is likely to aid in developing a strong national foothold in this space so it can present itself on an equal footing for an International dialogue.

It may however, include foreigners settled in India or working in collaboration with Indians.

The tasks that I feel, lie ahead include:

  1. working towards contemporary jewellery being recognized as a valid form of art along with other art disciplines.
  2. including Contemporary jewellery in art fairs and/or contemporary jewellery fairs in India
  3. work can be presented not under any specific theme, but under the genre of contemporary/Art jewellery
  4. include works that have a clear original voice (not just original work) that push the boundaries in the categories of a) Theme/narration b)material c)technique
  5. CNC and 3d printing to be included in the mode of production alongwith hand fabrication.

Such an exciting development on the Art Jewellery scene, particularly for it to take root in India, now needs the support of the Art Community. It will be exciting to see how it develops.

‘And still I live': about the series

My soul is chained; My identity is erased; And still I live

India has a long-standing history of collective identity, collective conformity and often abuse of the individual by this collective.

There is an old saying: The nail that stands out gets hammered.

This couldn’t be more true of my country. Even today, as India ‘rises and shines’, there seems to be a sanctioned savageness, an unnatural aggression(borne of hunger), in the nature of this collective. The law of the jungle rules in our religious and social structures. Hierarchy and resultant servitude, hold paramount importance even in the most basic institutions of family.

I started the ‘And still I live’ series to bring this aspect to light, as much as to document human suffering.

A sadness engulfs me. It doesn’t go away. It is here to stay.

Does mental, emotional and physical harassment by religious and social quacks strengthen the human spirit? Maybe someday there will be answers…

And still I live

And still I live

                                                              And still I live: Brooch, sterling silver

And still I live: Brooch, sterling silver

                                                                  And still I live: Brooch, sterling silver

 And still I live.

On a bed of a 1000 arrows I lie

the sun has burned my eyes

the night lays me no respite.

The wounds deepen

the sorrows darken

etched sharply in the lines of destiny

condemned, a desire to perish.

And still I live.