"I have always loved jewelry," she says. "Since I was a child, seeing the beautiful Italian gold my grandmother from Italy would wear, tiny precious things intrigued me." Wanting to learn about metals and how to solder them together, she went back to school in her early twenties, and a metalsmithing class changed everything.
When Ananda took that first class, she had the idea for a necklace with a tiny painting set behind glass and framed in silver. She made two necklaces and a ring, and her teacher bought all of them. She says, "There was something magical about them at the start. I started selling them in stores almost immediately, and I felt very honored that other people saw that as well." Today, she uses acrylic paint on watercolor paper, still hand painting each, sets the miniature piece of art behind crystal, and frames it with sterling silver, with or without a touch of 22k gold, or 22k gold.
Her earliest jewelry was made with silver, and she added little gold elements as she was able to purchase gold. As her success grew, her use of gold grew. She chooses to use only recycled gold, and in her shop in Northampton, Massachusetts, she and her team of jewelers craft jewelry in that gold and silver.
Ananda has a more casual approach to gold than tradition dictates. She says, "I think in the past people have associated gold with a certain type of jewelry. They'd only thought of wearing it for special occasions, not every day. A new clientele has moved toward gold, at least for me." This may be because of her approach with gold. "It's the jewelry itself, the shapes and the stones and the paintings, the matte finish—just the feeling of it. Women tell me they can wear it every day; they can dress it up or down."
Ananda uses mostly high-karat 22k or 18k gold. She says, "That warm, orangey 22k looks good on every skin tone." Her work in solid gold is usually in bridal and other rings. She's happy to create gold necklaces and earrings, but the majority is in rings. "I think if a bridal customer is coming to me, they’re probably looking at my wedding collection, and that’s gold, so they’re drawn to the gold."
She's also drawn to gold, the appearance and its properties for crafting jewelry. When Ananda's creating a setting and wrapping the gemstone, she loves the feel of it, the way it moves as she works with it. "Gold is buttery, soft, especially high-karat gold."
She believes that the warm color always accentuates gems, makes them pop. Some jewelry designers might use a white metal such as platinum or white gold for the cool colors of opals and blue sapphires, but Ananda does not. "The juxtaposition of cool
gems in sunny, yellow gold has a very Caribbean feeling to it, which I love. That’s probably what I love most, the colors."
Even when working in sterling silver, she finds ways to add gold. Little dots of gold onsilver are a signature of hers. She may also add a small gold setting with a diamond set in it. Ananda says, "It's amazing how much that little bit of gold adds to the piece, the feeling and aesthetically. A lot of times the buyer loves being able to get a piece that has some gold on it, but they wouldn’t be able to spring for a solid piece. The gold adds perceived value and real value to the piece."
The jeweler in Ananda enjoys working in gold. "Everything just seems to work easier with gold, which is a pleasure. When I moved from silver to gold years ago, I remember thinking, this just works. It’s wonderful."
See Ananda's jewelry on her website: www.anandakhalsa.com.