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A Jewel For The World
Published: Volume 18, Issue 8, August, 2010
Poonam Soni’s peerless Itai Doshin piece will travel the world on the invitation of an ecological organisation

There is no craft with a tradition more primeval than the craft of adoring the body: jewellery design today, in a sense, has come furthest of all artistic endeavour. And when Poonam Soni began designing jewellery in 1989, Indians were still hoarding their precious heirlooms as investments. Her work was instrumental in getting us to viewing and buying jewellery as what is really is – art.

She made what was then a shocking breakout from convention in 1989, when she introduced semi-precious stones like malachite and lapis lazuli, as well as shells and leather in 18k gold to create Greek- and Egyptian-style designer jewellery. Her work caught the eye of the international design circuit then, and continues to do so now. Her invitation to participate in an auction organised by Eco Art – a charitable institution for ecological welfare, supported by Prince Albert II of Monaco – will mean that a signature Poonam Soni creation will travel through the world over the next few months, having already begun its journey out of Monte Carlo late last month. It will arrive at its ultimate destination, a grand auction in Abu Dhabi, in November 2010.

This creation is a piece called Itai Doshin, based on the Buddhist philosophy to which she adheres. It means ‘many in body, one in mind,’ and is a dual-purpose ornament inspired by the Saker Falcon, that can be used either as a brooch or a lariat. With diamonds adorning the bird’s wings and flowers, and its stomach decorated in a traditional form of Mogul art, fusing 23k gold-on-glass, its exquisite features are completed by the handpainted face. The miniature rose holding the tiny green painting on plexiglass, below the bird, captures the spirit of the cause in whose service the piece will travel the world. A small beetle, attached to the neck, studded with champagne diamonds and red rubies carries the Poonam Soni signature on its back.

Its technical perfection was ensured by Poonam Soni’s collaboration with Fine Jewellery, a firm by Prem Kumar considered the benchmark in the art of finishing jewellery production. The jewel is produced by the Poonam Soni workshop for design detail and finished by Fine Jewellery for technical expertise. The amalgam results in yet another watershed moment in Indian design, and another line blazoned on the pages of an ancient and powerful history.

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