Matisse has said that creativity takes courage Three words that call for deep reflection and the possibility of taking risks. Jeweller Viren Bhagat often exemplify Matisse’s ideas, and his work is thought to be outstanding due to his balance that he created in his series of pieces of jewellery that amaze. It’s not the size of the stones or the design, but the quality of play and the ability to innovate.The Bhagat family has been engaged in the business of jewellery for more than a century, originally based in Lathi village, which is located in Gujarat. Now, in it’s fourth generation in Mumbai, the business of Bhagat is headed by Viren who is joined by his brothers, Varun and Jay. Bhagat produces a small amount of jewelry pieces per year, but not more than five pieces per month, that are all distinctive. Bold and grand in concept, their design is timeless and elegant. Viren’s goal since the beginning was to remain true to himself and to adhere to his own principles. Viren said to The Hindu: “The passion to make something unique keeps me working every day. I create jewelry for myself to be happy.”
The most sought-after naturally occurring diamonds, diamonds sapphires, emeralds and natural pearls Each stone dictates the requirements for its use the best it can be. It is a non-verbal agreement between those who are indissociable from their materials and craftsmanship. The settings appear to be to be invisible, with the platinum cast with such a fineness that the stones seem to appear to be floating. Most of the images that are shared in public of Bhagat’s works are formal and often come from auction houses or museums. houses, as a sign of their importance and documentation. However, it wasn’t always this however. At the beginning of his career, Viren started out designing smaller pieces that used semi-precious stones. As he got older and grew, he started to travel around the globe to find rare stones and ethical diamonds to create his unique jewellery.
Following his rules
A scholarly look (he is believed to be akin to his late father Vajubhai Bhagat who was who was an artist and lecturer at the Sir JJ School of Art) The fourth-generation jeweler is extremely meticulous -both in his work and in his attire (his clean white shirt collars and cuffs exactly as). He is also adamant about maintaining a low-profile and is among the reasons in the absence of a tiny group of discerning jewelers the jeweller is almost unnoticed. He ishowever open in sharing his love of jewellery. In the past few weeks , he’s given talks at Saffronart’s biennial jewelry gathering, Mapping a Legacy of Indian Jewels as well as his own AD Design Show.
With his unique identity, he has created a modern one for Indian jewelry the “gem whisperer” (as the name he uses via Instagram) is considered to be as a rival to French luxurious house Cartier as well as American jeweler, Joel Arthur Rosenthal (who, coincidentally, is also a close friend). His designs are featured in private collections as well as museums. But he sticks to his own guidelines He does not accept orders, doesn’t repeat his designs, and makes just 60 pieces per year. “The drive to make something fresh keeps me working every day. I make jewelry to satisfy myself,” says Viren, who will showcase the pieces in March at TEFAF Maastricht in the Netherlands is considered to be the world’s most prestigious fair for antiques, fine art and design.
A sluggish start
A family of his own that’s been involved in the business of jewellery for more than a century, He was attracted to the art of making jewellery at the at the age of 11. He was able to watch his uncles and fathers engage with jewelers and watch for hours polishers and setters at the workshop of the department shop, Bhagat Brothers. “They taught me how to judge the colour, clarity and origin of the stones,” Viren says. After the family business dissolved, in 1991, Viren, along with his brothers Bharat and Rajan established a jewelry studio in the year 1991. The sons of Viren, Varun and Jay, are also part of the business. “Sometimes it takes us up to six months to design rings due to the amount of time we devote to each and every detail. Younger generations don’t have this level of patience, however thankfully, my sons are a part of my vision and love for the craft,” he adds.
Viren is very open about the role that his father was instrumental in shaping his design aesthetics, his perception of proportion, as well as his love in drawing. “He instructed Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta along with other artists. On Sundays they’d come to him [at our home at Marine Drive] and argue over art for long periods of time. As I listened at them I thought of taking a pencil, and realized the possibility of drawing as well,” he says. He doesn’t often talk about the man who helped him begin his journey Italian jewelry designer Gianni Bulgari.
On a trip to Europe in the mid-80s, Viren had visited the Bulgari store in Rome. “I was astonished by what I saw in the store. It was a turning point of my existence,” he recalls. When he returned to Mumbai Viren sent some of his drawings to Bulgari via post. “Six months later, I got a reply saying he liked them and I could visit him in Europe.” However, Viren’s hopes for working alongside Bulgari ended when the designer stated that he could not hire the young artist for only few years and impart his knowledge before he had to go back to India. However according to Viren later explained to Vanity Fair , Bulgari also said to him, “I can see that you’re talented and I’m sure that you’ll be successful wherever you go.” The affirmation is, as he puts it “inspired me”.
Viren’s design process starts every morning by sketching on A5 white paper using pencils which sharpens to a point himself “because my drawings are so precise” -as he listens to Trance music “to cut off all disturbances”. “I select a stone from my collection that I have accumulated during my travels, and then examine it to see if it fits the style [he collected for 10 years 24 Burmese Cabochon rubies to make a necklaceto wear as a necklace. Should it not be, then I put the stone before me and make a design in the style of the stone.” The majority of the time when he purchases an item, he has a clear idea of the design he’ll create from the stone.
At his workshop, structure is the guiding principle for cutting gemstones. In close supervision of his artisans for over three years, he’s built a solid connection with them. “They transform my paper flat, one-dimensional designs into 3-dimensional jewels. We share a enthusiasm and, over time I’ve reached an extent with them that there’s telepathy” the artist declares. He admits that there are going to be some challenges as we move forward “It is becoming difficult to identify those who will be the future generation of artisans. They aren’t content to be seated on a bench and do their work because of the advances in technology. I am sure that my sons will be faced with this problem more often in the coming years,” he concludes.