Jewellery Design is all about the nuances; be it aesthetics, wearability or the ability to connect to the emotions of consumers !

Meghna Singh, our next pathbreaker, Jewellery Designer at CaratLane, A Tanishq Partnership, is part of the team that designs beautiful, everyday wear, fine jewellery.

Meghna talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about the opportunities for jewellery designers to explore and push their potential, break boundaries in creativity, and bring freshness to the table through practicality and originality of ideas !

For students, invest your time in building design thinking skills, and find your way to establish your own design philosophy because it will help you stand out of the crowd and bring originality to the world.

Meghna, what can you tell us about your background?

I hail from the city of Love – Agra where I completed my higher education at St. Francis Senior Secondary Convent school, and my secondary higher education from Delhi from Maharaja Agarsain Public School. My father is a software engineer who worked for Delhi based jewellery brands, and that’s when me and my twin sister got introduced to the fascinating world of jewellery. My mother is a proud housewife and a warm mother with strong ideologies that helped us shape our life. Since my childhood, I had an inclination towards art and crafts which encouraged me to take part in various interclass drawing competitions, create interesting model projects for subjects and also paint for my own pleasure which also gave me a window to connect to myself. I was also active in athletics during my school days. 

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

In 2013, I studied Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory Design from NIFT, Gandhinagar. It is a four year degree course which specializes in Jewellery Design. The curriculum and infrastructure at NIFT Gandhinagar is well designed to hone the skills one needs to become an aspiring jewellery designer. In the foundation year we learnt creative thinking processes, principles and elements of design, hand skills and soft skills and gained knowledge of the history of art around the world. From the second to fourth year, the approach to learn design processes helped me to find and explore inspirations with a fresh, unconventional and creative lens which pushed me to dive deeper and bring mindful results on the table. I had also secured a place as runner up in the Jewellery Design Awards held in Delhi in 2015. I also gained a 360 degree exposure to different aspects of design such as graphic design, packaging design, visual merchandise design. I had also come up with edible packaging for burgers and subways which I am so proud of, and also designed a few entrepreneurship modules.

What were some of the influences that made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

I have always resonated with all the creativity and art around me. Co-incidentally, my father was a Software Engineer for many Jewellers and used to visit exhibitions with them pan India. From his trips, he used to bring back many magazines and catalogues of jewellery brands which I and my sister used to admire a lot, and we were pretty much intrigued by the art and creativity the world of jewellery had to offer. In 2012, we moved to Delhi which was a turning point in our lives, as we got a better exposure to explore career opportunities. It was then that I looked back at my dream of pursuing a career as a Jewellery Designer and secured my admission in NIFT, Gandhinagar.

Tell us about your career path. What were some of your defining moments?

My career journey started with a two months summer internship (May 2016) at Pallavi Foley Boutique Jewels, a couture jewellery brand based in Bangalore where I was mentored by Pallavi Foley. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on a collection using the latest technique introduced in the Jewellery market called “Electroform” technique which produces feather light jewellery while maintaining the rich and voluminous look of jewellery. 

In November 2016, I got my dream company Tanishq for my six-month Graduation Project. Here, I had the opportunity to learn the design process in depth which was a thoughtful blend of creativity and commercial viability. I developed my technical knowledge in jewellery under the mentorship of Mr. Sarvanan, Senior Designer of Tanishq Design Team. I had contributed to Tanishq’s high value collection called “Jewels of Royalty” as well as the “Mia” collection.

After my graduation in June 2017, I got my first job at Fab Jewels (now Walking Tree) as assistant Designer in the innovation team of the company. The team was devoted to bringing innovations into their collections, be it through inspirations, material treatments or mechanisms. I have been extremely grateful to be a part of this team as it was here where I developed my hand skills in a commendable way and developed my key strengths as a designer. My most memorable work was on the pilot project for the ‘to-be-launched’ European brand called “Unsaid”. It was a 2 month long project which gave me an opportunity to deeply learn European consumer preferences and taught me the meaning of ‘eye for the detail’ as my Design Head guided us on each and every nuance of design, be it aesthetics, wearability or value for money.

In August 2018, I moved to Bangalore in search of new career opportunities, but I couldn’t get a job. So, I started off as a faculty member in a Design Entrance Exam coaching establishment called DQ Labs. After 2 months, I got the opportunity to work as a Jewellery Designer in C. Krishniah Chetty & Sons Jewellers (also called CKC), a well reputed 150 year old company. I worked at CKC for two and half years which I must admit were the most beautiful years in my career as I got the opportunity to work as an all-round designer. Apart from designing exclusive jewellery collections, I used to interact with the customers and deliver bespoke designs ranging from few thousand rupees to crores , which gave me a first-hand understanding of consumer preferences. I also got the privilege to be a Graphic Designer, Visual Merchandiser, Trend Analyst and a Content Writer for blogs at CKC. 

After working in an export house and a high end Jewellery brand, I wanted to explore the world of an online retail jewellery brand.That paved my way to a career opportunity in CaratLane – A Tanishq Partnership company which caters to the vision of every Indian wearing beautiful jewellery everyday . In March 2021, I joined the company as a Jewellery Designer where I feel lucky to be part of the CaratLane family.

How did you get your first break?

I got a kick start to my career after completing my graduation. I didn’t get any job at the time of campus placement. Hence, I worked on my portfolio and applied at Walking Tree through one of my seniors who was already working in the company. I travelled from Delhi to Mumbai for my interview and after a week I got the job offer at one of my dream companies, as Walking Tree is an ocean of learning and a pioneer in innovation.

What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

When I got introduced to the design world in NIFT, my first challenge was to find my own definition of design and figuring out how to reflect my own perspective of inspiration and design into my works. Thankfully I did succeed in laying these foundations in my DNA through the learning I got in my course. 

My second challenge was to learn hand skills as well as the ever evolving design software as it is essential to excel in both the skill sets to visually represent your thoughts. I had fun learning these skills and excelled in the most relevant ones. After joining the industry as a Jewellery Designer, I realized the importance of balancing creativity, originality and practicality of ideas, and thus was keen to learn by observing my work environment, which I feel is a continuous process in one’s professional and personal life. I also try to introspect into my career journey and find the gaps to fill in, on both professional as well as personal development fronts.

Where do you work now? Tell us about your role as a Jewellery Designer

I work at CaratLane- A Tanishq Partnership brand which is an online retail business format with currently 143 stores across India, and catering to designing beautiful, everyday wear, fine jewellery. 

I am part of the Design team. I design hero collections for major festive occasions like Diwali, Akshay Tritiya, etc, which need to be not only designed from the lens of freshness in inspiration and implementation, but also deeply connected to the consumers and the occasion. I also design products across different product categories based on the study of gaps in the website catalogue. Apart from these projects, our team is dedicated to introducing innovations in jewellery through research and development, be it any new jewellery making technique, or new materials that have never been explored in fine jewellery in India. This is a continuous process and integral part of our job as a designer.

What are the skills needed in your role as a Jewellery Designer?

A designer at CaratLane has to have a strong design process of his/her own, be experimental, be well versed with ongoing trends, be good with hand skills, software skills and presentation skills and most importantly someone who understands the consumer.

What is a typical day like?

My day at work typically starts with checking my mails, defining the tasks to be done for the day and acting on them while sometimes listening to music to keep the spirits high. A little break in between work saves us from the monotony of the day. To feel energized, I go to my office terrace and practice yoga and connect with myself.

What do you love about your job?

The most exciting part of my job is the freedom to create my own lane. Here we get the opportunities to explore and push our potential, break boundaries in creativity and bring freshness to the table which helps develop the brand image of CaratLane as a design leader in the Indian jewellery industry.

How does your work benefit society? 

Through Jewellery design, we provide a window for consumers to connect to their emotion and manifest it. Understanding this psychology and applying it in design is an art. I find pleasure in seeing customers feeling uplifted by adorning the piece of jewellery which speaks to them. So I would suggest that students explore this field of design, because you learn a lot from consumer behavior which further helps you to become a more sensitive designer.

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

In my 5 years of work experience I am proud of all the projects that have come my way. But there are two projects which I did in CKC, which fill me with immense pride and joy till this day. 

The first one was the signature collection called ‘Queen of Night’. It was a high end exclusive fine jewellery collection inspired by Mogra flower, where I had handled the multifarious creative tasks apart from just designing the collection. I branded the whole collection with the graphic design for the collection booklet, designed and executed the visual merchandise across all 3 major stores in Bengaluru, created the collection launch video, coordinated for the launch of the collection at the event, and supervised the photo shoot of the collection. 

The second project which I feel most proud of is the premium perfume collection introduced by CKC called “Rare Scents”. This project was purely about creating the visual branding of this sister brand of CKC. Hence, I developed the characters of the perfumes by creating romantic stories for each perfume of the five perfumes, designed the bottle and its packaging, designed the booklet as an experience for the owner of the perfume, designed and executed visual merchandise for the stores across the city. In brief, it was a wholesome experience for me by being the owner of these projects and witnessing myself evolve as a designer in full glory.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

My advice to students pursuing this career would be to invest their time in building design thinking skills, find your way to establish your own design philosophy because it will help you stand out of the crowd and bring originality to the world. You also need to develop your skill sets, be it hand skills or soft skills and make some of these skills your core strengths as it is very essential to visually present your ideas in their true sense. Keep yourself updated with the evolution in your field, this will serve as a guiding light to grow in your career.

Future Plans?

I intend to explore my design thinking skills as User Experience designer in the jewellery field as this is a digital world and there is a need to connect to your consumer closely and intimately more than ever, in order to  understand them and reflect their delicate and unsaid emotions into the product and services offered to them in an unmatched manner.