While fine jewelry and high jewelry can embody brilliance and bewitching style, how often do you see designs that express a philosophy of beauty, a reverence for Nature, plus, dare I say it, spirit? All of these and more animate the high jewelry and limited edition creations of Hanut Singh. Glamorous but never overtly flashy, Hanut Singh www.hanutsingh.com jewels are born from his endless love and admiration for gem materials from earth and sea.
According to Singh, “Gemstones conduct frequencies and energies.” Indeed, quartz and other crystals have been used for several decades by scientists and engineers the world over for such purposes. Embodying imaginative spirit, intriguing energies and providing aesthetic armor, Singh’s bijoux et joyaux confer talismanic protection against the world’s onslaught of trendy, dubiously designed jewelry made from various inferior materials.
Framed in noble metals, Singh’s jewels speak a universal language of harmonious design inspired by ancient symbols from Indian, Asian, African, European and U.S. cultures. Renowned for his use of vintage pearls (more lustrous than new ones), Singh exults in using high-grade gemstones and precious oceanic jewelry materials. His first fine jewelry collection combined high-grade abalone discs, diamonds and rubies set in 18k yellow gold. His jewels are made by master craftsmen in Delhi, many of who learned their trade from male relatives.
Based in Delhi and descended from a family of gem and jewelry connoisseurs (of which more later), Singh and I met for lunch at Bar Seine in New York’s Plaza Athenée Hotel. “Nature never cheats and the cosmos never lies,” he told me in passing as we discussed how some global brands and so-called “luxury” retailers often produce uninspired and high-priced jewelry collections based on novel bling and trendy forms rather than on an artistic vision. “Luxurious jewelry design is immediately apparent, even if the materials are humble rock quartz as opposed to diamonds,” Singh said.
Indeed, many of his jewels seem to be whispering, “Embrace beauty and love the mystery.” Singh’s exotic designs combine terrestrial and oceanic gems that remind us of the beautiful mystery of our planet and our lives. Most of Singh’s cosmic jewels are earrings. These fuse organic natural forms and concepts with Art Deco silhouettes and are set with earth and ocean gems. He also makes wonderful necklaces: respecting the beauty of Indian tigers and referencing antique tiger claw jewelry, Singh’s 18k yellow gold ruby and diamond necklaces are ornamented with resin tiger claws that look like the real thing.
Singh comes from a long line of peripatetic gem lovers who, like him, cultivated recherché tastes in fine art, fashion and other applied arts. His great-grandfather, Jagatjit Singh, Maharajah of Kapurthala, brought Indian gemstones with him on his frequent European travels and commissioned Parisian jewelers to create pieces incorporating these treasures.
Hanut is the grandson of the Indian royal Sita Devi, a.k.a. Princess Karam (1915 – 2002) and Karamjit Singh, Jagatjit’s younger son. Karamjit brought superb Indian diamonds, carved emeralds, rubies, sapphires and lustrous pearls to Parisian jewelers such as Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels, who he commissioned to create pieces for Sita Devi.
As she was such a beauty, stylish dresser and multi-lingual charmer, Sita Devi served as a muse to photographers such as Cecil Beaton. Indeed, Hanut’s grandmother reigned as a globally admired fashion plate and society figure during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Although she wore couture by Mainbocher and Elsa Schiaparelli, (whose 1935 collection was constructed similarly to Indian saris), Princess Karam also enjoyed combining Indian clothing with European finery. Imagine fine Indian silk and gold-embroidered saris flowing underneath bespoke opera coats and Revillon furs: ahhh.
In any case, haute joaillerie commissioned by Karamjit Singh of Kapurthala influenced European high jewelry design as they gleamed with carved gemstones, large and lustrous pearls and lush Indian “tutti frutti” motifs. “The jewels I saw on my grandmother when I was growing up as well as the jewelry of other family members and images in our family photo albums impressed me greatly,” Singh says. “I still study those images to this day.”
Such is the material excellence, master craftsmanship and visual beauty of Hanut Singh’s jewelry that it invariably ignites pleasure and inspires contemplation. More than mere adornments, Hanut Singh jewels are irresistibly artistic treasures. Lucky for him that others recognize this even when he’s not selling directly to them. “The other day, I was in this very same bar,” Singh related. “I was showing a client some of my jewelry and a woman at the next table oohed and ahhed and asked me if she could buy some of my pieces,” he said. “I feel so honored when people respond to my designs and wish to purchase them.”
Fascinated by all gems and gem materials, from Herkimer diamonds to pearls to coral to D Flawless diamonds and everything in between, Singh radiates energy as heady as the night-blooming jasmine flowers that inspire his “Narcotic Jasmine” earrings. “I love to combine carved glass, diamonds, onyx, common shells such as abalone and sometimes repurposed vintage gems in the same design,” he added. “And so I do.”
Singh lives in New York part of each year and travels regularly to London. When I met up with him, he had just journeyed through Russia, where he was “knocked out by the heritage art, architecture and jewelry.” While Singh sells his jewels mainly through appointment and at intimate trunk shows, his pieces also retail at select Barneys New York stores around the U.S. and at Roseark in Los Angeles.
Clouds of common, so-called “luxury” jewels parade down the high streets, while Singh’s jewels enchant for eternity. Let’s take a look at them NOW.
In the photo below, Singh wears a Golconda diamond ring of exceptional colorlessness and limpid clarity, along with an emerald and diamond ring.