Hanut Singh's Hand

Transcendental Adornments: The Jewels of Hanut Singh


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.


Hanut Singh's Hand

The hand of Hanut Singh, New York, summer 2016. Photo by Kyle Roderick


Hanut Tree of Life Earrings

Alive with pomegranate red rubies repurposed from antique jewelry, the branches of Singh’s 18k yellow gold “Tree of Life” ear pendants sparkle with Herkimer diamonds (a form of rock crystal quartz). Sacred and precious beyond description, the mythological and archetypal Tree of Life grows in most every major religious and philosophical tradition. In 1872, Charles Darwin used “The Tree of Life” as a metaphorical signifier of interdependent evolutionary descent. Speaking of Evolution, how brilliant of Singh to give a new life to antique rubies by setting them in these ear pendants. While the Herkimer diamonds sparkle bright, the ancient red rubies glow like fiery embers of eternity, illuminating the wearer’s face day and night. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut Singh Jesus Nail earrings

“The carpenters cross has always been a favourite symbol of mine,” Singh explains. While Singh’s bijoux are partially inspired by his belief that jewels can, and do, act as talismanically protective amulets, these Cross of Nail gold and diamond earrings are statement jewelry of historic style and substance. These ear pendants reference The Coventry Cross of Nails, which since 1945 has been globally recognized as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. (The English town of Coventry was reduced to ruins by German Luftwaffe during World War II bombing raids.)  Coventry’s cathedral was destroyed and the next morning, while the rubble smoldered, the cathedral’s leader, Provost Richard Howard, chalked out a huge graffiti message on the sanctuary walls – “Father, Forgive.”)  The cathedral’s stonemason immediately started building a wooden cross from the debris, using three nails that originally held the roof together.  After the war ended, Coventry cathedral donated a ‘Cross of Nails’ to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, which had been destroyed by the Allies during the war.  Today there are 160 Cross of Nails centers across the globe, each one owning a cross fashioned from three nails extracted from Coventry Cathedral, symbolizing forgiveness.  Bravo, Hanut, for creating chic and elegant existential earrings! Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut Singh Emerald Melon Earrings

Hanut Singh is an Emperor of Alluring Earrings.   Proof: this pair of fluorite, spinel and rose cut diamond earrings.  Gracefully carved in the manner of ancient Persian Indic “melon” beads, the verdant fluorite topmost pieces and diamond-topped globes are enhanced by pinkish-red spinels and rose cut diamonds.  Referencing the past, these are utterly 21st century tutti frutti! Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut+Singh Deco Fountains Earrings

Singh’s penchant for uniting ocean and earth gems in compelling designs is exemplified by these 18K gold “Deco Fountain” earrings.  Glowing with 18K gold mother-of-pearl discs, rubies, diamonds and diamond beads, these ear pendants exude alluring glamour that is fresh, kicky and classic. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh



Gemstone Party Power:  Hanut Singh calls these sparkling; richly hued ear pendants “Glam Glam Sticks.” These artfully combine rock crystal, rubies and treated banded quartz stones of greenish blue set in diamond-paved 18K yellow gold frames. Photo by Kyle Roderick


Hanut Narcotic Jasmine Earrings

While the Keshi pearls in Hanut Singh’s 18K gold and black enamel “Narcotic Jasmine” earrings radiate glowing, lunar light, tiny diamonds shine like stars in the night.  The clean, fresh and seductive lines of this floral design illuminate the face and create elegant impact.  Singh has a rare talent for creating dazzling jewels sans bling–  a rare trait in today’s high luxury jewelry scene.  The technical skill and finesse of the artisans who create Singh’s jewels is admirable–  and marvelous. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut+Singh Rubellite, Jade, Black Diamond and Pearl Pagoda

This super-chic rubellite, jade, pearl and black diamond pagoda ring is ideal for anyone who admires the timeless grace of clean-lined Asian style. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut+Singh Heartbeat Earrings_101

Glowing with vintage golden pearls and encircled by rubies, Hanut Singh’s “Heartbeat” earrings glow green with tsavorite garnets that symbolically zig-zag like the heartbeat pattern created by an EKG machine. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut+Singh Diving Swallows Earrings_83

Known for seasonal migrations and precise homing instincts, swallows in Victorian and Georgian jewelry symbolized travel, home coming, loyalty and a voyager’s return.  Singh updates the bird’s classic symbolism with richly hued rubies, icy bright diamonds and 18K gold.  It makes sense that Singh’s jewels are collected by such style stars as Mary Kate Olsen, Madonna and Diane von Furstenberg. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Hanut+Singh_Earrings Mughal Fleur de Lis_20

Mughal Fleur de Lis earrings in blue topaz, tsavorite, ruby and diamonds infuse the classic, three petaled French floral symbol with lavishly stoned Mughal Indian style.  Fleur de Lis jewelry designs became classic in Europe centuries ago when the floral motif began appearing on the royal arms of France against a blue background.  Singh’s 21st century update of this venerable symbol fuses Indian artistry with European symbolism resulting in multicultural bijoux of rare refinement. Mughal Fleur de Lis Ear Pendants. Photo courtesy Hanut Singh


Sita Devi 1937

This beauty is Hanut Singh’s grandmother, Sita Devi, Maharani of Kapurthala, a.k.a. Princess Karam (1915−2002).   Born in India and fluent in several European languages, she was a globally admired fashion plate and society figure during the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  Sita Devi wore couture by Mainbocher and she inspired designer Elsa Schiaparelli to create a 1935 collection that was modeled after the style of Indian saris. Photo courtesy of Cecil Beaton




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