The World Of Sally Agarwal
Before founding my brand, I spent years investigating the history of diamonds in India. The first recorded reference of diamond jewellery appeared in The Arthashastra, or The Lesson of Power. This ancient Sanskrit treatise dates to 296 BCE. Because diamonds were originally associated with divinity, the earliest diamond jewels festooned religious icons. Diamonds were also symbolically associated with good fortune and were believed to be imbued with special power. The ownership of diamonds was therefor regulated and determined by India’s ancient class structure, or caste system. The caste system dictated that grey or black diamonds were for the lower classes while a ruling king could possess diamonds of every hue. Crafting fine jewels from uncut diamonds, known as Polki and Vilandi, originated during the Mughal Empire.
Polki diamond jewellery has been reserved for ceremonial purposes in India. Brides wear polki diamond jewellery and, time was, a suite of Polki diamond jewellery comprised a bride’s dowry. My extended family in India includes world class diamantaires and as they educated me to understand the appearance, properties and grading of Polki diamonds, the originality, beauteous qualities and transformative power of these stones inspired me to create my own collection.
Polki diamonds are sizable and feature slight, natural imperfections which indicates their quality and also enhances their character. To heighten the unique attributes of a Polki diamonds – such as their beguiling white glow, which, to me, evokes moonlight – I conceived a minimalist, 18-carat yellow gold settings for my jewels. The look of some of my designs references heritage jewellery yet time-honored signatures are interpreted with a light, modern touch.
I source superior polki diamonds in Russia and work with coloured stones mined in India. I design my jewels in England and oversee their production in a Mumbai workshop which has operated for close to a century. Mastering the closed setting technique which defines my pieces requires years of training and originated in the royal courts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Every jewel is hand engraved on its reverse side, or the inner eye, which is a signature of my brand. Although this hallmark is loosely based on my initials, I was also inspired by something the leading gem dealer, Benjamin Zucker, has written – namely, that “Diamonds will always be a magical window facing the invisible world.”