Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart highlights some of the prevalent plant and flower motifs in South Indian jewelry

NEW YORK: In Indic religions and philosophy reference to plants, fruits and flowers abound signifying the relationship man shares with nature. Since antiquity myths and iconography pertaining to flora and fauna has been a central part of Indian belief systems and their actual use and their reference in present day rituals and faith based practices proves their continued significance in Indian society. Plants and flowers are often time associated with deities, presented as offerings in rituals and symbolically represented in daily life through various means.
South Indian jewelry present a ripe example of the continued reference to plants and flowers in Indian faith systems and the development of intricate motifs laden with meaning, still in use in present day India. Our current exhibition “Jewels from South India” display an array of motifs associated with plants and flowers.
A Jasmine Bud Necklace

A Jasmine Bud Necklace

The jasmine bud necklace, known as mullai arumby malaii, adapts the tender buds of the fragrant flower in its design. The result is a piece of jewelry that conjures images of delicate and prestine creations of nature, the carnal scent of the auspicious flowers with erotic connotations enhancing the beauty of the wearer. There are many myths that chronicle the mystique of this tender flower.
Manga malai necklace

Manga malai necklace

Another common motif in South Indian design is the Manga Malai– the necklace of mangoes. Similar to the persian booti or paisley design, mango tree has long held mythic associations in Indian society. The mango tree is believed to be a wish-fulfilling tree and a symbol of fertility and long life. Mango leaves which are believed to hold protective powers are still used in actual rituals in India, also commonly found strung across the entrance of an house. Stylized motifs of mango have been adapted in South Indian jewelry, lending not only a meaning but decorative elements to the jewelry pattern.
The rudraksha bead is often times adapted in design of beads or used as it is in South Indian jewelry. It is believed to be sacred to Shiva and is commonly worn by both men and women with Shivite affiliations all over India. They are believed to hold the creative energy of Shiva, bestowing the wearer with similar powers. Symbolically the seed is believed to represent Shiva’s eye (Rudra=Shiva & Aksha=Eyes). Myths abound that reference the rudraksha.  One of them tells of how Shiva went into the state of penance for 1000 years in order to destroy evil in the world and when when he finally opened his eyes a drop of his tear on the ground resulted in the germination of the tree bearing the rudraksha fruit. The seeds are considered highly auspicious and are adapted in designs in multiple ways.


A gemset Jhumki or earrings

A gemset Jhumki or earrings

A gemset necklace

A gemset necklace

A closer look at jewels from our collections show the many ways floral motifs are adapted in design- their presence abounds. From three petaled blossoming flowers, to floral vines adapted in design, the significance of rendering plants and flowers in jewelry can be traced back to centuries and continues to the present day- a melange of traditional beliefs and modern practices.

A Conversation with Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari of SYNA Jewels

Mogul Black Spinel Short Tassel Pendant with Rubellite

Mogul Black Spinel Short Tassel Pendant with Rubellite

Manjari Sihare of Saffronart in a tête-à-tête with Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari of SYNA Jewels

New York: To mark the holiday season, The Story by Saffronart presents a collection of exquisite Mogul jewelry by renowned US based jewelry design firm SYNA, founded by Namrata & Dharmesh Kothari. Well known for curating private label collections for some of the world’s most esteemed jewelry houses, Namrata and Dharmesh launched their own designer label, SYNA, in 2003. Now in its tenth year, SYNA has made its way into most high-end stores across the United States. The designer couple talk to us about the simple, classic and timeless creations of SYNA, the materials, their use of age-old inlay and carving techniques and more in this exclusive interview.

Q. Please tell us about your brand ‘SYNA’?

SYNA was born in 2003 and excels in exquisitely crafted, luxurious jewelry using colored gemstones.  SYNA means “together” It comes from synergy. The name relates to our desire to partner with people, be it our retailers, our vendors, our jewelers or our employees. We believe people can achieve great things by respecting each other and pooling their talents and resources.

Q. SYNA jewelry stands out for its use of semi-precious gemstones? Please elaborate on your choice of materials and the design philosophy?

Our design philosophy has always been to keep it simple. A piece should have only what is needed, nothing too much, and not less. You will not see pieces from SYNA with too much going on. We’re always always stripping a design to its core. We want to show the heart out instantly, and in it’s purest form, without losing its inherent character.

We believe in using the best of gemstones, which we source from all across the world. We collect roughs of various gemstones and cut the shapes we need as we want. We utilize complex methods to showcase jewelry in its simplest form possible, we never lose the inherent character of the stones, letting the natural beauty of gemstones take center stage. Everything is about achieving the most effective color display and combination. The silhouettes are classic yet striking and can complement a daytime denim or underscore a perfect little black dress. The simplicity of a SYNA piece with a twist of modern elegance is what keeps it timelessly fresh yet versatile.

Q. Do you manufacture SYNA jewelry in the United States? Tell us a little about your sourcing and manufacturing?  

We make our jewelry in the United States using the most skilled jewelers in the industry. We cut and polish our gemstones in India. And our colored stone roughs are sourced from all across the world. We’re always in the search of exotic new materials and gemstones. Being hands on right from sourcing the raw materials to the finished product, there is no compromising at any stage.

Q. Could you talk to us about SYNA’s ‘Mogul Collection’ featured on The Story?


SYNA’s Mother of Pearl Earrings in their signature design, the intricately latticed windows inspired by Mughal architecture

Like I said, our design philosophy has always been to keep it simple. We have taken intricate traditional Mughal shapes and extracted their purest forms and used them in our collections in simple, modern ways. Our signature & symbol is inspired by intricately latticed windows from Mughal palaces, effortlessly merged into a medallion. We proudly call it the Mogul. Our little signature identifies our roots and our design philosophy.

Being the heart of the SYNA brand are the Mogul Drops. The outer shape of the Mogul drops is inspired by the traditional red tilak, a Hindu symbol of victory,

success and good fortune placed on the forehead. We call them “Mogul” drops as they reflect the larger-than-life sizes (some even go to more than a hundred carats each). Our Mogul drops celebrate the culmination of Hindu and Mughal art influences in most architecture in India.


SYNA Mogul Drops

Little antiques, a child’s drawing, architecture, a landscape, door knobs, a memory , a word from a friend on the phone. There are always little things everywhere that gets us excited and thinking, be it during our travels or from our backyard. We love seeing how one inspiration fuses into another all the time.

Q. What are some of the key pieces in this collection and why do they stand out from everything else?

Our large Mogul Drops!! Each large drop is a over a 100 carats, cut to perfection and embellished with 18k yellow gold and diamonds. These can be adorned on vintage leather cords, blackened silver chains and 18k yellow gold chains (and even interchangeably). Each look transforms this simple classic piece into a versatile, chic style. We absolutely love the magic we see in the eyes of our clients when they wear these. The Mogul drops come in various sizes (large, medium and small) and in a lot of different stone species (amethyst, blue topaz, black spinel, rose quartz, blue chalcedony, moon quartz, citrine, lemon quartz, smoky quartz, rock crystal and more) embellished with 18k yellow gold and champagne and black diamonds.

Q. Please share the retail history of SYNA?

SYNA was born in 2003, when we came to the US. It’s been quite a joyride ever since, with some highs and some lows (and some serious bumps!!)  Our first collections were taken by the big names in the industry. It helped us survive the giant leap we took from India then. Today, the SYNA brand is showcased in most high-end retail stores nation-wide including Neiman Marcus & Mitchells family of stores. We choose only the best in the business in each location.

Q. Where do you see SYNA in the next 5-10 years

The last ten years have been our foundation years, long and significant. These years were also some of the most exciting years of our lives. In the next five years, we’ll see a lot of “distribution” magic within SYNA. We’re here since the last ten years, but we’re yet discovering new places. We’re still touring each city, still discovering new store locations, we’re still meeting people, people whom we will work for a life-time. We are growing each day and we’re loving every moment. The next decade will be the most crucial years for Syna, and hopefully they will be path-breaking.

 Q. What kind of buyers does the brand cater to?

Our clients are drawn to our pieces for the purity of color and elegance. They are compelled to touch the stones and get a feeling of spirituality. They love simple, sophisticated styling with an understanding of natural gemstones and appreciate fine quality.  

Q. Your recommendations to build a classic SYNA Collection

Mogul Amethyst dangling drop chain earrings with Rubellite

Mogul Amethyst dangling drop chain earrings with Rubellite

A large or medium Mogul drop on a vintage cord. Some Baubles rings and bracelets. Simple modern Paris cobblestone earrings and a little SYNA bold chakra charm pendant is a good way to start with. From there on, one can build the collection with additional drop colors & sizes (for layering) and some more Baubles colors (to add more combinations to your existing look) and more earring styles. One will be amazed to see how they can use the same piece to create different looks all the time. Usually, we meet up our clients at various events with their existing jewelry (their SYNA pieces and their other pieces) and we create their jewelry looks right away. They always leave the event surprised and awakened on how some colors do so much magic on them than the others. It’s amazing how nature gives us these gems with such potent color, each of them providing us with the opportunity to create beautiful color stories.

Baubles diamond pave stacking rings

Baubles diamond pave stacking rings

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