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This Chennai artist’s luxury, handmade, and sustainable jewellery line goes global

At Bhagya Sivaraman’s home studio, she sits surrounded by art — her black line drawings on white paper cover the walls. Near her desk, is a large stand from which hang rows of earrings, each a different size, shape, and colour. There are bright pinks, checked patterns, and sunny yellows.

“Art, to me, is open-eyed meditation,” she says. She is wearing a pair of large, black and white earrings from her brand Coloured Ears. Early in 2018, the interdisciplinary artist recalls how she began experimenting working with polymer clay. “While I loved wearing and hoarding silver and stone jewellery, I soon realised that I was allergic to nickel. I wanted to create something that I could wear without having to worry about developing an allergy, and this led me to polymer clay,” she says.

Bhagya Sivaraman

Bhagya Sivaraman | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It took her a couple of years to practise, and she recalls burning material, and even injuring herself during the making process in the initial stages. Six years later, Bhagya knows her way around working with polymer clay, which is a hardenable modelling clay, and uses surgical stainless steel or titanium (on request), for the backs of the earrings.

The making involves an 18-step process, and one that had led her to fall in love with colours, and the infinite probabilities of colour combinations. Every piece comes with a name and significance. There is Atma, Terrazo Stones, Kintsugi, and Andromeda — the names encompassing her inspiration behind each earring.

The earrings are made of polymer clay, and surgical steel or titanium

The earrings are made of polymer clay, and surgical steel or titanium | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the earrings range from small studs to large pieces, everything is very lightweight. “At pop-up exhibitions or markets, I encourage customers to try the earrings on and see how light it is for themselves. The material is durable, and does not break easily,” she says.

Her eclectic jewellery comes with many tags — luxury, sustainable and gender-fluid. Every piece, Bhagya says, is unique, one-of-a-kind, and handmade, which earns it the luxury tag. “The material used might not be sustainable, but I ensure that I do not waste clay. If a piece comes out broken, it goes back into the making of my next batch.”

Ananya Panday wears Coloured Ears at the Fashion Week Finale 2021 for Bodice

Ananya Panday wears Coloured Ears at the Fashion Week Finale 2021 for Bodice | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While building a customer base in Chennai, Coloured Ears walked for Bodice, a clothing brand, at Lakmé Fashion Week Finale 2021 where actor Ananya Panday was the showstopper. Her jewellery was also worn by models who showcased designers Pankaj and Nidhi’s collection at the fashion week that year. “For New York Pride in 2023, I was asked to send in jewellery for designer Mayyur Girotra’s collection, and it was an exhilarating project to be a part of,” Bhagya says.

Her jewellery has also led her to meeting and working with people she deeply admires. During a show in Chennai, writer and performer Alok V Menon donned jewellery from Coloured Ears onstage. Another collaboration that has her excited, is custom-making jewellery for actor Alia Bhatt, for a soon-to-be-released ad campaign.

In March, Bhagya showcased her jewellery at Cluster London’s contemporary jewellery art fair which brought together jewellery designers from across the world. “I hope to introduce categories — probably Coloured Necks and Hands? Or even brooches, in a few years,” she says.

A model wears Coloured Ears earrings at New York Pride 2023, as a part of Mayyur Girotra's showcase

A model wears Coloured Ears earrings at New York Pride 2023, as a part of Mayyur Girotra’s showcase | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As a consultant in the social sector working with organizations focussed on women and child rights, and well-being, art has been a binding force in Bhagya’s life, having integrated it into much of her work with women and children. While Coloured Ears continues to grow, her line drawings too are making their way into interior projects, and private collections.

“I am expressing myself at the intersection of different art forms — there is abstract jewellery, and abstract expression in my art as well. It is heartening to see a lot of people coming forward to support this,” she says.

Coloured Ears is available online at colouredears.comFollow them on Instagram @colouredears. Prices start from 900 onwards.

David Dass
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