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Asha & Kamal Modi

Asha & Kamal Modi [Art Karat – Est. 1988] The Modi’s established their Art Karat line in 1988 when indigenous, Indian jewelry design had not yet begun to flourish. Since then, Asha, a trained gemologist, has become one of India’s most recognized jewelry designers. Her inspirations combine basic, natural elements with the rich Indian heritage of changing moods and traditions. Each design conveys differences in style, mood and craftsmanship and are crafted by some of India’s finest artisans.

Art Karat designs concentrate on an alternate line of jewelry set on silver and studded with only precious and semi-precious authentic gemstones. Because of its flawless execution, it commands the same respect as jewelry set on gold. The brand’s intent is to create masterpieces that are brilliantly crafted, exceptionally designed, valued as art, and that will be considered heirlooms passed from one generation to the next.

Art Karat chose silver as its base metal because it is highly malleable and closely resembles platinum, the metal used in Europe. Art Karat employs more than 1000 craftsmen throughout India making it the largest production facility for designer jewelry.

The creations are sold in more than 100 self-organized exhibitions held in 70 cities across five continents and in 15 exclusive Art Karat Boutiques in India. The brand now has an international presence in the U.K, U.S, Canada, and Singapore with more coming.

Asha’s jewelry designs mostly draw upon a style known as Pachchikam. This style, originally employed in the Indian areas of Gujarat and Kutch centuries ago, has become popular with contemporary designers and often replaces traditional gold ornamentations.

Settings for Pachchikam jewelry encase uncut, semi-precious stones and glasswork in simulated open claw workmanship. Each piece takes a minimum of a month or two to be made. Inexpensive sets can cost as little as five dollars but a set with clusters of tiny Hyderabadi rice pearls could cost many times that amount. The main colors of stones used are green, red, blue and white glass with white rice pearls as the popular accompaniment.

Pachchikam is not especially ethnic in appearance. It is flashy and can be worn for formal occasions. “Today most Pachchikam jewelry is made in silver and often gold plated to give it the appearance of real gold jewelry” says Asha.

In September 2013 in Trinity Hall at Taj Deccan, Hyderabad, Asha and Art Karat displayed its latest series, ‘The Heirloom Collection.” The entire collection was created on silver with exceptional Kundan craftsmanship, studded with precious stones such as emeralds, rubies, amber, lapis and opals.

Asha has been honored with the President’s award for design and received the prestigious Best Designer Accolade by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council. She has also been recognized by the FICCI Ladies Organization as one of India’s 20 most influential women who made significant contributions to India’s economic reform. She was also among the first Indian designers to introduce a jewelry line intended for brides.

Asha has also designed jewelry for more than 10 Bollywood blockbusters that include the movies Devdas, Monsoon Wedding and Kamasutra. Asha has dedicated her recent collections to the 18th and 19th century Pachchikam jewelry designs that also generously use silver.

Asha and her husband Kamal Modi live in New Delhi with their two children Saket and Shivani who are also a part of the business. Saket manages Art Karat in the United States and Shivani designs for Gold Karat, the gold and diamond division of the business.

During the Trinity Hall exhibition, Asha said, “All these years I have tried to design jewelry that speaks to women on an emotional level [with the] vision of making beautifully crafted, distinctively feminine jewelry…”

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