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Pure Passion Jewellery

26 March 2021 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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“The possibilities are infinite,” is the tag line for Shyam Hettiarachchi’s exquisite and creative jewellery collection. 
 
Her creativity and passion for making these wonderful pieces are incredible. Shyam has been creating exquisite line collections for the last 16 years. I had a lengthy and interesting conversation with her.
 
Q When did you first realiSe you wanted to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?
 
To be honest, it is more a creative escape that I stumbled on to. Jewellery design will never be a career for me. It is a place where my mind is free and I design and create with so much passion. It makes me happy.
 
Q Where and what inspired you for your first collection?
 
My first collection and viewing was over 16 years ago. I made three pieces of each design. Even then I had a variation in each piece. I used to doodle designs and people would ask me to make jewellery for them. So, I thought ‘why not have a jewellery viewing and see if people like what I make’.  I had my first viewing for three days with 50 pieces on sale. I sold out on the first day and then I was shouted at by people because when they came over there was nothing to buy.
 
QWhat was the most valuable thing you learned from your first collection?
 
I learned that people wanted to pay money for the colourful madness that came out of my head.  I also learned  that I was good at this but also that I had a lot more to learn. So, I began to learn from master jewellers and continued to teach and challenge myself to do better, to use different mediums etc.
 
Q Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry?
 
Auntie Ena (Ena de Silva) and Master Piyasiri, who is my master jeweller, are my biggest mentors. I made some pieces for Auntie Ena and she told me that I was holding back on my creativity. She told me, “never apologise for your talent to create and never think you must fit in.” I will always love her for that. Master Piyasiri would first be aghast when I showed him my doodles and told him it was a piece of jewellery I wanted him to make. He thought I was a few eggs short of an omelette when we first met. 
 
I have learned so much about metallurgy from him. He always tells me that my designs are unique and each piece will find its rightful owner.
 
Q What was the first job you landed out of college? 
 
After my undergrad, I became a research analyst for Lanka Securities (part of the Merchant Bank).
 
Q What raw material do you work with on your line?
 
I use sterling silver as base metal. Then brass, clay, leather, coconut shells, wood, gemstones and fossils. I use high quality metals because I do not like plating jewellery.  I only make one piece per design and since I always make statement pieces I ensure that the material I use is of the highest quality. I give myself zero room for any mistakes. 
 
Q If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? 
 
Stop worrying about what people think. I was so conditioned to think about what people would like that I forgot to design from the heart. Breaking away from that was huge for me. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to break away from it much earlier.
 
QHow is working in fashion different today from when you first started out? 
 
I cannot claim to be in the fashion industry because I design collections when I have the time, money and the inspiration to do so. But I believe that there is more freedom in design now. I also see a lot more people experimenting with design and that is so amazing to see. There is so much emotion that goes into designing, at least for me. I also see that people who buy pieces of clothing and accessories are more selective than before because there is so much to choose from now. The fashion industry is also looking at upcycling and being more sustainable – I like that.  It is very promising.
 
QWhere do you go for inspiration when working on a new line?
 
Into my mind. Everything inspires me. One day I saw two dead hakarallas in the mud. They were curled together. I loved the shape so I wet some tissue and took a mould of their shape and made a pendant. There is a piece of jewellery in everything.
 
QWhat is your favourite part about being a designer?
 
Seeing people fall in love with the pieces I create and connecting with them.
 
 
 
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