Usha Kolachalam is an accomplished school teacher in northern California. She loves to savor the rich Indian tradition through her outfits and jewelry.
Usha is also an avid mangalsutra collector and has at least six different mangalsutras. Now Usha wanted to get a custom mangalsutra.
She was looking for a piece that would stand out. She wanted to stay away from tiny mangalsutra. Instead, she wanted to create a traditional piece that she could wear on special occasions.
When Usha’s mother passed away, she passed down to her a gorgeous 36-inch solid gold chain. The chain brought back to Usha fond memories of her time with her mom. For this reason, Usha wanted to incorporate her mother’s chain in the custom mangalsutra.
Usha also was in love with the red coral gemstone. Usha’s mother had gifted her a coral ring. Unfortunately, Usha had lost the coral. By incorporating coral in her mangalsutra, she wanted to stay close with her mother.
After learning from Usha about her dream mangalsutra, we started to work together on her custom design that would incorporate the coral gemstone and her mother’s gold chain.
From design to final creation, Usha’s custom mangalsutra was ready in 11 weeks. Usha enjoyed the custom mangalsutra process because it allowed her to:
- Visualize her ideas before she placed her order for a custom mangalsutra.
- Get a unique custom mangalsutra that was very personal to her. The piece included the coral gemstone and her mother’s gold chain.
- Own a versatile piece that she can wear on different outfits. The mangalsutra pendant had a feature where Usha could interchange between coral and topaz gemstones.
In this article, I’ll share with the exact steps Usha took to get her custom mangalsutra.
Step 1: Tassel mangalsutra design inspires Usha
In 2017, Usha came across the Tassel Mangalsutra design on the Sampat Jewellers website.
Tassel is a delicate, modern, simple mangalsutra. Usha wanted a similar long chain mangalsutra for her.
You can read more about how the Tassel mangalsutra was designed through this [Case Study] How She Got Her 5-Star Designer Mangalsutra in Six Weeks?
To discuss her dream piece, a pre-design call was scheduled to discuss Usha’s requirements and how she plans to wear the mangalsutra.
During the pre-design discussion, Usha explained that she was looking for a long chain mangalsutra with a large pendant. She wanted to incorporate a coral gemstone to match her existing coral and diamond ring.
The pre-design call was very helpful for Usha to decide if the custom design process was the right choice for her.
Usha confirmed her intent to proceed with the custom design process.
Step 2: Long chain mangalsutra design process initiated
Within a week, Usha received a set of six beautiful long chain mangalsutra designs.
She loved them all! But she has one favorite.
Let’s look at all the design options and find out which design Usha picked.
The option incorporated the black bead and the gold ball-like charms from the Tassel mangalsutra. Since I knew that the Usha was going to wear her custom piece primarily on sarees, it needed to be a bit larger and very graceful. I choose pear as the shape for the gemstone and created a beautiful motif that accentuates the shape of the gemstone. The pear-shaped gemstone is such a universal shape that is very timeless and traditional.
Since Usha and I had a pre-design call, I knew she what she was looking for. She was willing to be bold and try something outside the box. In this design, I wanted an oval-shaped diamond pendant with a small coral that is linked to the tassels. It’s a mixture of organic and geometric forms which make it a versatile mangalsutra. It looks great on sarees as well western wears.
I wanted this design option to be ornate and feminine. It almost felt like a beautiful chandelier. The tassel is like strings of black beads connected to an umbrella-like gold and diamond cap. You’ll notice the use a square-shaped coral gemstone.
The inspiration for this design comes from the natural vines. The goal was to keep the mangalsutra free-flowing, dramatic and unique. The design elements included a leaf-like composition and hanging coral droplets with a few black beads.
The idea behind this design to create a piece using the timeless elements such as uncut gemstones and intricate gold carvings to create a pattern that would nest the coral gemstone. The goal was to use authentic techniques from the past in the creation of this piece. It’s very hard these days to find a raw and authentic piece of jewelry that is handmade. For the tassels, I have little strips of diamonds for added sparkle and structure for the chain.
This design is evolved from the expression of a sparkle and flare. Using marquise shaped diamonds to elongate the pendant and placing the diamonds give the impression of little sparkles radiating from the center. The mangalsutra pendant design is completed with two added gold balls connected to black beads in the bottom.
Usha simply loved the pear-shaped red coral surrounding with real, natural diamonds (Option 1). The pear-shaped gem is not a common shape, making this piece even more unique.
Usha requested that I provide her with a variation of Option 1. Specifically, she was looking for a variation in the black beaded charms. I was happy to help Usha with this request. The custom jewelry design process allows for one additional design iteration at no additional cost.
I went back to the drawing board to refine Option 1 further and came back with four variations for Usha to pick from.
A design review meeting was scheduled to review the four variations below.
We wanted to play with the tassel design options and come up with a design that resonated the most with Usha.
I provided Usha with four additional tassel options and the potential gemstones she can have. We also talked about the gemstones being interchangeable so she can wear the mangalsutra with multiple outfits.
Tassel Option #1 consisted of two tassels with gold ball beads with diamonds
Tassel Option #3 was by far my favorite and this is what Usha ultimately selected. It’s a graceful pattern of black beads connected by diamond strips to give the final pendant structure.
Tassel Option #4 also had two tassels with drop shaped corals. It’s simple and bold.
To recap, Usha picked Option #1 from the first design round. This design was further refined to get to Usha’s favorite and topic pick Tassel Option #3.
But she was still unsure of which gemstones to pick. Coral, jade, amethyst and yellow sapphire looked equally dazzling.
She, of course, loved the coral gem, so this choice was a no-brainer.
She wanted to pick one more gem. After giving her choices some thought, she settled with the white topaz. It wasn’t one of the options in the design but during the design review discussions white topaz had come up as a possible choice.
The white topaz was actually a beautiful choice because in some ways it has a look and feel similar to a diamond but its brilliance is much softer and subtle.
Shortly after the design call, Usha placed her order for her custom tassel mangalsutra. She went with the Tassel Option #3 above. The mangalsutra pendant came with interchangeable coral and white topaz gemstones.
We also agreed to incorporate her heirloom gold chain in the final piece as the mangalsutra chain. Usha was now going to have a custom mangalsutra that she connected with at an emotional level and was meaningful for her.
Step 3: Handcrafting the diamond and gemstone mangalsutra
Once the mangalsutra design was finalized, it was time to bring this beautiful design to life. The first step was to create a computer-aided design (CAD) as shown above.
The purpose of the CAD design was to give our artisans and designers a perspective of how the final piece would look like. It was also an opportunity to make corrections early on in the design process before the final piece was brought to life.
The next challenge was to source pear-shaped coral and white topaz gemstones. This wasn’t an easy feat. Pre-cut gemstones generally have an oval, round or a triangular cabochon. To get a pear-shaped white topaz and coral, the artisans had to make custom cuts to get the desired shape for this mangalsutra pendant.
While the gemstones were being cut to meet design requirements, the artisans were finalizing the mold for the pendant. The mold was based on the CAD design and formed the foundation of the physical pendant.
Using the mold as the base, the pendant was handmade with solid 18K gold. Next, through intricate and careful craftsmanship, the round diamonds were set on the pendant. Each round diamond met the minimum specification of VS clarity, G color, and excellent cut. The diamonds also had brilliance and larger surface area so they could sparkle and appear bigger than their actual carat weight.
Another team of artisans was busy working on the black bead and diamond mangalsutra charms. The custom design had four such charms. The charms were also handmade and then attached to the main pendant.
The final mangalsutra pendant was polished with the pear-shaped gem nicely nested in the mangalsutra pendant.
Behind the pendant, there was an adjustable clip that allowed Usha to change the gemstone based on her outfits (or mood for the day :)).
Once the pendant was complete, it was tightly clasped to Usha’s existing gold chain. The tight clasp allowed the pendant to stay in place on the gold chain and prevent it from moving when worn.
Here is the photo of how the finished piece looked.
Isn’t that a great story?
It has been an honor working with Usha to bring her vision to life. She wanted to own a unique piece that she would wear for special occasions.
She also wanted a mangalsutra pendant that was versatile with replaceable gemstones. The idea behind this was to allow her to replace the gemstones to match her outfits.
Finally, she was looking to incorporate her mother’s gold chain in the final piece as it held emotional meaningful for her.
Through the custom mangalsutra design process, Usha was able to get:
- A unique mangalsutra design that reflected her personal taste
- A mangalsutra pendant with her favorite gemstone, coral, custom-cut into a pear-shape
- A meaningful piece of jewelry that she can wear on special occasions on different outfits
And here is what Usha had to say:
“I really appreciate all your help and all the, just helping me think through ideas and telling me what’s gonna work, what’s not going to work and just going through the whole process because I had an idea in mind but I’m not very artistic but you know, you got those you can kind of bring things to life. So that was very unique and I really enjoyed working with you”
Thank you, Usha for the kind words.
We checked in with Usha a few weeks later and here is what she shared with us.
“Well, I’m super excited and I just look for opportunities to wear it all the time. Everybody compliments me every time I go, like Everybody, people are complimenting…”
We couldn’t be any happier for Usha and her beautiful mangalsutra pendant.
Do you want to get your very own custom mangalsutra? If yes, we may be able to help you.
Every month, we take a limited number of clients and help them create a mangalsutra of their dreams. To find if we’re a right fit, schedule an appointment with our designer today.