DESIGNING…

Annie has left. Before returning to the States, she and I worked on drawings for a collection in tourmalines and spinels set in fine gold and silver. We put three pieces each into production. We are now waiting for those to be completed. Three pieces each however do not constitute a collection. However, there are […]

GEMSTONES GALORE

Emeralds Help!! Which Afghan stones to design with? We have been guided from readily-available lapis (opaque dark blue inexpensive stones) to spinels (pink, faceted, expensive stones) from Gary the Gemhunter, a friend of Sophia’s, to tourmalines, to raw Afghan emeralds (that will need cutting) from a dealer and possibly lapis again. The stones shift our […]

BRILLIANT FUTURES – THE TALENTED AFGHANS

The morning in Jaipur is filled with the wail of peacocks. As if sensing my yearning to see a wild peacock (they are actually all wild in Jaipur), a big blue bird flies to the roof of Jaipur Heritage Home, our B & B, to my absolute delight. How could anything be so spectacularly beautiful, […]

FROM TUKTUKS TO AMRAPALI

Our evening ends in Jaipur with a ride home in a tuktuk (see photo) whose driver informs us with great delight that his is a disco tuktuk. Have we misunderstood him? He sees the confusion on our faces, and with a big smile, hits a switch. Lights flash inside the roof and music blares forth […]

GOODBYE INDIA

Its our last dinner before our early morning departure, Annie’s and mine, that is. Narain Niwas Hotel’s dining room hosts us yet again. We are the temporary, non-Afghan team of Sophia Swire, Ben Phelan, Sam Le Prevost, Paul Spurgeon, Annie Fensterstock and Anna Ruth Henriques. I’m naming us for posterity because this might just be […]

ASTROLOGY AND AFGHANS

(Inspiration – the inset at the foot of my bed) I’ve been dying to get to Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, an 18th century collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (King) Jai Singh II. Its main purpose I gather was astrological. Astronomy was simply the necessary science behind it. Jantar Mantar is important to […]

LAPIS LAZULI AND EIGHT-POINTED STARS

(Nuristan screen from Afghanistan – a source of my inspiration) Rough stones in hand, we zip over to a restaurant close to the Institute to grab some lunch. Actually, we don’t exactly ‘zip.’ We weave, roll along, halt, weave again on the road across town, moving at the grand maximum speed of 30 mph. Road […]

IRONING OUT A START-UP JEWELRY NGO

We are down to business. After an enormous India breakfast of papaya, pineapple, yoghurt, roasted halved tomatoes sprinkled with herbs, South Indian rice pancakes with chickpea curry and soup (the names elude me), steamed vegetables, French toast, cappuccino, tea, toast, and more. We begin our meeting over breakfast but are quickly chased out of the […]

END OF THE JAIPUR JEWELRY SCHOOL DAY

A bus picks the Afghan students up at the end of the day. By then, they are like any other students, a bit burnt out. Given that its India, there’s a lot of waiting around – like for packing into the bus and leaving to go back to their apartments and their children. A nanny […]

THE AFGHAN JEWELRY SCHOOL

On Monday morning, we hit the ground running. The accountant, Chris, from London arrives on the first flight via Delhi so over breakfast and coffee we discuss the short-term and long-term budget of the project with regard to trade shows and trunk shows for Annie’s and my collections. We also shared which shows we thought […]