Pala native Asha Sebastian Mattathil's success story is as beautiful as an intricately crafted delicate necklace. She stamped her mark in luxury business with exquisitely designed gold and gemstone jewellery.
Asha, who had professional training with the Gemological institute of America, has experience of 25 years in jewellery designing. She is one among the most innovative and artistic jewellery designers in the world today and is the most sought-after designer in Kerala, especially for brides to-be who dream of an ethereal wedding. She laid the foundation of this glittering profession by designing jewels for her own family members and friends.
Today, her designs, which are available at her flagship store called M.O.D Signature Jewellery in Kochi, hold a special place in India's most looked-upon celebrity weddings too. Asha's exquisite bridal designs found a pride of place in the wedding of celebrity kids Aishwarya and Surumi, daughters of film personalities Rajnikanth and Mammootty, respectively. They even adorned Malayalam actresses Kavya Madhavan and Bhavana during their wedding.
The armlet of design
For any passionate designer, a work of art is like one's own baby. It was just the same for Asha too, when it all started. Asha fell in love with gems and jewels at a very young age. She loved drawing, and playing with colours was a pastime. As a young dreamy bride shopping for her wedding trousseau, Asha was not very happy about the choices the local jewellery stores had to offer. When she realised that she couldn't find an attractive unique piece that suited her, the bride in her was disappointed.That very moment came the brainwave: why not design jewels for herself? Thus was born the artist jeweller in her. The first piece that she designed was an armlet with a long chain in contemporary design and it well-suited a Christian bride. During her efforts to create this piece, she realised she could explain her concept clearly to the karigar (skilled worker) who could deliver it to her in the desired way. She also realised that she could explain her ideas well to a potential client.
The surprise fate had in store for Asha was that she got married to a family which has been engaged in the gold business for generations. A passionate artist, Asha did not receive ample encouragement from her family to start of designing, but she didn't face any objection from doing what she love. Asha recalls that it was a miracle that her designs became popular initially and word-of-mouth promotion helped immensely. Years later it was her son Akshay Sebastian Mattathil who promoted her designs professionally under the label of M.O.D.
What is striking about Asha's intricate designs are their special charm. Her designs are not the typical flashy gold we see in normal jewellery, but has a unique tone to it which the youth loves. Asha opines youth is staying away from gold because of limited design options in jewellery. Eclectic designs impart confidence to the one wearing it, the entrepreneur remarks. The designer reveals experimentation with jewellery is limited in Kerala, where customers choose pieces with striking features. But Asha's designs are a blend of classic styling and elegance and stand out for their creativity.
Use of precious and semi-precious stones, shading a piece using colour stones, enamelling, and fine craft make Asha's products stand out. Her designs adorn rare precious and semi-precious stones from all over the world. Antique jewellery, Mughal-era jewellery, unique Meenakari work, brocade gold jewellery, thread work, body jewellery and also kid's jewellery get a unique makeover in her hands. Asha, who draws inspiration from the Bible, dubs her works as “delicate and expertly crafted, providing delight to the eyes”.
How it works
About designing, Asha says that working with gold involves much care and precision. Gold is a very fine and expensive metal, and factors such as the weight of the final product, the size of the jewellery etc. must be considered before starting to work on it. The age and complexion of the person who will be wearing it also need to be considered before designing an item.Choosing the stone for an ornament is also crucial. For instance, a green element can be brought into a very costly emerald or other semi-precious stone. It is just a designer's call.
The couture going along with the jewellery is also important. Before designing, Asha also takes into account the type of neckline, the colour of the costume and even the occasion for wearing it. Years into this venture, today Asha is also the go-to person who can design your overall look for the D-day. Asha's daughter Tiya Neil Karikkassery, who has also inherited her artistic talents works in close association with M.O.D through her venture T&M(Maria Tiya Mariya) which is also based in Kochi. Together these daughter-mom pair creates magic for brides-to-be.
What's in the making
Asha says that she is fearless when she comes to designing. An adept designer who can handle both traditional and contemporary fashion, her latest work will see the traditional Kerala designs in a never-before-seen avatar. The traditional mullamottumaala, maangamaala, naagapadathali all await an amazing revamp with her fingertips. A surprise in her oeuvre is a long kilimaala (a traditional Christian ornament) on which she is working presently. This long chain will be the face of a new bride, and it will be crafted in the most remarkable way. This particular piece will be a bespoke piece of bling.