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Rhea Nasta, head of design at the Popley Group, feels this is the best time to be in India for jewellery designers By Surekha Kadapa-Bose
For someone just in the mid-thirties to be appointed jewellery consultant with the Geetanjali group of jewellers and also consultant for their luxury line is a big leap in the jewellery designing profession. “Just today I signed the contract with them,” announces an excited Rhea Nasta from her studio at Opera House in Mumbai.
Jewellery, diamonds and designs are nothing new to Rhea. Born in the Popley family (Popley and Sons Jewellers), petite Rhea’s world comprises of jewels. Not surprisingly, she had a head start when she entered the designing side of the jewellery business at a very young age.
“Basically I love to design in diamonds but recently I have started using coloured stones as colour is the in thing now,” explains the designer. Incidentally, Rhea is also jewellery consultant with DTC-DeBeers and head of jewellery design at the Popley group.
A winner of many awards like the Tahiti Pearl Trophy 2001-02, first prize for male jewellery, runner-up for bracelets and Forum’s Award for the Best Gemologist 2001-02, Rhea recalls that when she wanted to study
jewellery designing there were no institutes in India that could teach the things she wanted to learn. So she pursed a diploma in Gemology at GII and Jewellery Designing Workshop supported by DeCTA (Developing Countries Trade Agency) of London with educational merit.
“Despite the knowledge I acquired, I initially found it difficult to interact with our karigars back in Mumbai as they continued working with traditional designs and looked down on a young just-returned-from-England girl! Contemporary designs had not reached India in the early 1990s. The market hadn’t yet opened up for foreign brands to come in and diamond had yet to become popular. And people hadn’t heard of fusion,” recalls Rhea.
This is another reason why the designer started a jewellery workshop – Popley’s Jewellery Design Workshop – where she strives to teach people what she herself wanted to learn when she was young.
Rhea is happy that the jewellery scene has changed. “Women have been exposed to different type of jewellery and expect the best from us designers. This is the best time to be in India as a jewellery designer,” she admits.