London-born jewellery designer Mayuri Vara talks about her family heirlooms and why she is inspired by Elizabeth Taylor.
Tell us about your childhood. “I was born and raised in London but have Indian heritage. In fact, my [immediate] family and I were the first generation to live in London. Since I was five years old, we’ve travelled back to India every summer, to Rajasthan. We have family in different parts of India, but Rajasthan is a cultural place that attracts us. The women there dress with such depth and power, and that is something that has really stuck with me.”
How did your brand Vara of London begin? “I’ve always loved to design art. With jewellery, I could never find anything I liked, so I started tinkering away and taught myself how to make jewellery by hand. In fact, some of the pieces in my current collection are designs I had made before, but are now remade with the help of artisans in nicer materials.”
So, was jewellery design your destiny? “Actually, I qualified as a pharmacist after studying at King’s College London. I also wanted to study medicine and specialise in dermatology. This line of profession runs in my family; my father is a doctor. But after moving to Hong Kong, I thought that maybe it was time to follow my passion and seriously try my hand at jewellery making.”
What is the most prized piece in your jewellery box? “I have a gold necklace and a matching ring that were given to me on my wedding day. They were passed down from my grandmother to my mother and, now, to me. They have a lot of sentimental value and, artistically, are a beautiful demonstration of jewellery craftsmanship that is unique to Rajasthan.”
Who is your inspiration? “I love old Hollywood glamour, the classic style of Elizabeth Taylor. The way she portrayed Cleopatra was stunning, and the bold jewellery she wore in the film was actually the inspiration for my line of cuffs.”
Describe your style. “I like classic pieces, and some of my favourite pieces of furniture are antiques, but I mix it up with contemporary pieces, too, to keep it clean. For example, we have a beautiful antique Chinese screen with gold foiling that I picked up a while ago. We contrast it with a few cowhide rugs. It’s really a matter of balance.”