St Erasmus - Inspiration India!

Glittering diamonds and rubies adorning your neck is passe, move over to zari and crochet. It is their time to rule and your time to make heads turn

By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: November 10, 2010

Glittering diamonds and rubies adorning your neck is passé, move over to zari and crochet. It is their time to rule and your time to make heads turn.

Enter Pieter Erasmus, the talent behind the distinctive jewellery label all the way from South Africa – St Erasmus. Having designed and created jewellery for distinguished design houses like Givenchy, Matthew Williamson, Roberto Cavalli and Alexander McQueen, his fan following extends to Michelle Obama and Joan Collins amongst others. If new age style and a strong, but fresh touch of feminism is what you want on your platter, then St Erasmus jewellery is your cup of tea.

Using traditional artisan production techniques and signature Zari thread crochet, Swarovski crystal and beading to construct intricate necklaces, cocktail rings, cuffs, brooches and earrings, Pieter’s jewellery manages to catch the eye without trying too hard and elegantly reflects modern opulence.

Feeling pretty?
At a recently held preview featuring Pieter’s jewellery at the multi-designer store Chamomile (by Vineet and  Kanchan Dhingra), I witnessed the beauty of his collection firsthand. “My collections offer jewellery to women that prefer timeless pieces to disposable fashion,” he said. “You can wear my jewellery at any time and any place even with a simple tee shirt. Have fun with them! Its costume jewllery after all.” He shared an instance of how his favourite fashion designer in South Africa, Marianne Fasler, bought a beautiful Maharani necklace which she immediately wore with an old t-shirt, jeans and sandals, on her way to a food court. Now that’s called making a statement!

From Hyderabadi riches and gems, the designers inspiration
Indians all over the world would be proud to note that it is actually our rich cultural heritage which serves as inspiration to the renowned but humble designer. “My collection is always very Indian inspired. Apart from being classic and elegant, the colours and grace can make anyone a loyal fan, like me,” he said. Inspired by the 18th century jewellery collection of the Nizam’s court at Hyderabad, he did not spend time looking at the court jewellery. Instead, reading about it in William Dalrymple’s books, he felt inspired by “the opulence, the tremendous riches...the peacocks.”

Erasmus stated, “My jewellery is for the international market, but my designs stem from Indian roots. I then modify and modernise them to complement each individual.” Borrow rather than imitate seems to be his thumb rule. He explained that over time, the zari thread has become a signature element in every design because it goes well with crochet in any form of jewellery, be it a bangle or a neckpiece. He also loves playing with gold and pearls to up the fancy and dressy element to his designs. “My jewellery is over the top, a bit out there. I feel the best way to wear it is to down play it.” He says growing up in South Africa has also helped inspire his work. There, people take anything and make jewellery out of it. “You take straws, buttons, branches, flowers, glass bottles - always made with ‘found’ things,” he says.

Caught your eye too, didn’t it?
Focusing on creating statement pieces, St Erasmus jewellery retains a hand-created feel with a flawless finish and quality. “Because it is handcrafted, no two pieces are the same and this adds value to the wearer. Every piece is unique and promises to be a charmer.” Which, I for one definitely agree with. Paying close attention to the artisan techniques of India (where the designer spends much of his time), Pieter admits that he loves being involved in the making of the jewellery. He added “I love doing everything myself, right from the sourcing of the raw materials, to the designing that leads up to the finished product that you see today. I can never compromise on my raw materials. They are the basis of my work.”

When asked about his fancy clientele, he admitted that it was a complete mystery to him until he saw it splashed over the press, and the humble designer is proud that his work receives the apt appreciation it deserves. With a smile he added that he had no idea that the First Lady had even purchased one of his pieces, let alone sport it at a public gathering. “Everyone knew how and where her outfit was pieced, but no one knew where the neckpiece came from!” he said.

For all those who know Pieter only by the designer whose neckpiece Michelle Obama wore, there is much more to this talented designer that meets the eye. He also designed handbags but realized that jewellery was his only love. “I can make my jewellery myself from scratch and create exactly what I was envisioning. I love embellishments, I love bling, and I just cannot do it simple. With bags, it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to! What you envisioned and what you get is just isn’t the same. And by the time you’re done modifying it, you’ve lost the season! According to me, bags are a functional item…but jewellery, you just put it on to look pretty!

For Autumn/Winter 2010-11, the collection harks of an era of forgotten grace, elegance and romance – keeping up appearances and eternal glamour. With an intense colour palette of dark greys, clear crystal and reflective silver hematite surfaces, the range draws upon classic vintage styling and effortlessly unites this with bold, high-impact silhouettes. The collection showcases unique jewellery design guaranteed to make an impression: a true style statement in the volatile ultra-modern era.

The St Erasmus jewellery can be purchased at Chamomile (Mumbai) and White (New Delhi). All this success hasn’t gone to the designer’s head and he shared that it was very important for him to keep the artisans happy and satisfied which will eventually show in the work. And as long as he’s keeping the First Lady and other ladies happy, no ones complaining.

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