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Jewelry with Soul, Meaning and Intention: An Interview with Sapna Mehra

It was the Asmi Necklace that did it for me. I saw a photo of it on Instagram and immediately had to know: WHO MADE THIS NECKLACE AND WHAT ELSE DO THEY MAKE? (Seriously, my mind shouted that in all-caps).

It turns out that 1) Sapna made the necklace and 2) she makes all sorts of other cool shit with a spiritual intention. Asmi (Sanskrit for I AM) is the name of a collection of necklaces based off of numerology. She even includes a handy little calculator on the listing page so that you can quickly and effortlessly figure out your life path number. Once you know the number you can read a little bit about what the number says about you, your personality, and your life path. While the numerology isn't new news to most of us, what is new is Sapna's beautifully designed necklaces (complete with personalized birthstone!) that correspond with your lifepath number and are meant to be worn to remind you of your individuality and your unique strengths and weaknesses.

 

You can achieve anything you set your mind to with your persistence, tenacity and sustained hard work and effort.  A deep commitment to your infallible sense of ethics creates a solid foundation for any endeavor.

Embrace spontaneity and fluidity to enhance a sense of balance and ease.

 

And wouldn't you know that the first compliment I remember receiving from my dad when I was a really young girl was "Once Darla sets her mind on something she doesn't stop until she gets it. And she always gets it." And also my lack of spontaneity and ability to "go with the flow" is often a source of contention between Andy and I (He's a 6-- The Alturist).

I'm really looking forward to buying a four-petaled flower pendant (with a dangling ruby!) soon. I can imagine wearing it everyday and reminding myself to be more fluid, to say yes to spontaneity, every time I touch it. It will also be a great reminder of my accomplishments and to keep pursuing my dreams because, yes! I can achieve anything I set my mind to. And as Sapna says "It's subtle and has a little hidden-ness to it. Numbers are too explicit." 

I recently interviewed Sapna and I think it's safe to say that we were instant soul sisters and, now, friends. I'm so excited to tell you about her other creations, but for now I'll let the interview and Sapna tell the story:

The Interview

Sapna Mehra is a woman with soul. Global soul. And she expertly translates that global soul into gorgeous and inspirational jewelry that stuns with its simplicity and meaningfulness.

A second generation Indian-American, Sapna's jewelry is inspired by her cultural heritage, her soul and her personal style. One of her signatures is the use of kundan gold-- a unique form of purified 24k gold that is created by repeatedly firing the gold until all of the impurities are burned away. This method of preparing the gold has been used in Indian jewelry for hundreds of years. It's also one of the only ways to use 24k (pure) gold in jewelry. Usually 24k gold is too soft for making jewelry-- it is prone to losing it's shape or loosening up and dropping the stones set within it. That's why most jewelry is 18k or 14k gold and 6-10k of other metals that help strengthen and fortify the piece of jewelry against warping and everyday use and abuse.

Sapna uses the kundan gold to not only create gorgeous jewelry but to inspire and uplift the people she creates jewelry for. "Gold only becomes kundan after passing through fire," goes an old Indian proverb. "I design jewelry for anyone who's passed through fire to wear as an emblem of triumph," Sapna says on her website.

Sapna herself has passed through many a fire. She lost her mother at age 12 and lost her father 10 years later at age 22. Orphaned at an age where most of us need the guidance, stability and support of our parents the most, Sapna says her creative work serves as a link between her present and her shared history with her parents.

"As a girl I went to India every summer. It gave me a complex understanding of the world, which allows me more openness to other things." Sapna explained. "After my mother passed I lived in India for two years and met kids from all over the world. On the bus a Somali boy would ask me 'What are you?' I'd tell him I was Indian and he countered with 'No, you're American.'" To Sapna, this situation expressed the conflict of living in two worlds at once. Her parents were strict and spoke Hindi at home. Her father meditated daily and she remembers sitting in front of him and watching. Yet they sent her to a Catholic school. "I've always felt culturally inside and also outside at the same time," she says. "But culture is what you do every day." Sapna went on to study comparative literature in college and realized that different cultures, myths and legends can all contribute to making our unique sense of selves. It's this realization that she strives to communicate in her jewelry.

Sapna first was introduced to the world of jewelry-making and designing by family in India. She began working with them by representing their jewelry in the U.S. and soon felt the urge to branch out on her own. Drawn to the traditional use of kundan jewelry, she also wanted to experiment and make the jewelry modern, present and personalized. It took awhile, but she eventually found a group of artisans who were willing to slightly depart from the traditional and help her make jewelry that was culturally inside and outside.

"Traditional Kundan jewelry only uses rubies, emeralds and diamonds. The back of the jewelry is always in high carat gold with enameling. It's traditionally very ornate but you can't wear it everyday. I wanted everyday jewelry. I want to wear something special everyday. So I use all kinds of gemstones in my jewelry and I back it with fine silver instead of high carat gold."

Though she's added a modern twist to her designs, her jewelry is 100% handcrafted in the old techniques of India. Each stone is hand cut and inlaid into the gold by hand.

"One piece of jewelry takes four artisans. Everything is made by hand and fired in an open flame. Someone cuts each stone and hand sets it in the gold," she explains.

It's this fine handcrafting that leads Sapna to offer most of her work in Limited Editions and on a made-to-order basis versus stocking up on hundreds of items in her collection and slowly selling out her inventory.

"I don't work with a factory, I work with people. If I asked my people to work like that it would be disrespectful. I'd be treating them like a machine and really it's a craft."

One of Sapna's most recent creations is her Sankalpa bracelet. Sankalpa is a yogic practice of setting resolve or intention. And it's one Sapna has benefited from herself, inspiring the bracelet.

"During my birthday month last year I felt lack. I asked my family for personal training sessions as a birthday gift and I also started yoga more regularly. Soon I could see improvements and how it was reflecting in my life. I began to feel more gratitude and fullness. First the shift was very subtle, but it created space for cosmic assistance."

This experience led Sapna to create Sankalpa-- a beautiful fine silver bracelet enameled with a lotus flower with a rose cut diamond set in kundan gold at the center of the flower. Of course, every detail of this bracelet is rife with meaning.

From the product description on her website:

The Diamond:
The rose cut diamond at the center of the lotus represents the bija or seed of the sankalpa that you plant deep in your heart.
I use natural, ethically sourced diamonds. They are extremely hard and stable naturally occurring gemstones and I use them as a symbol of the strength and resolve of your determination.

The Gold:
The kundan or purified gold represents your tapasya and purified spirit.
Tapasya is the process you undergo, your passing through fire, that allows you to discover your own wisdom and foster a compassionate worldview. Your tapasya is what has created the space for you to be exactly where you are at this moment and to create a sankalpa from a pure, peaceful and generous place.

The Flower:
The enameled blooming lotus symbolizes the powerful manifestation of your sankalpa.
As your sankalpa takes root, you will begin to feel it’s vibrations. First, in subtle and gentle ways. Maybe it’s something little that you would otherwise tell yourself is a coincidence. But, you know that’s the power of your sankalpa slowly begin to bloom.
Then as your resolve grows deeper, as you let go and surrender to the universe, the vibrations of your sankalpa will grow stronger and you will begin to experience it’s power in louder and more obvious ways. You will see it blossom and manifest into your life. You’ll feel a part of the cosmic flow and the transformation in your heart will reach outwards and radiate positive change in the world at large.

The Metals:
The metals I used for this bracelet are fine silver and kundan, purified gold.
Silver corresponds to the moon, the right brain and left or feminine side of the body. Gold corresponds to the sun, the left brain and right or masculine side of the body.
It is the union of the feminine and masculine principle that creates the cosmos. Your sankalpa manifests through the balance and power of these principles within you.

"The whole point of my jewelry is to empower you to unlock your potential and to make you triumphant," she explains. "Art in India is never personal or an individual expression. It's more of a way to be connected to something bigger. It's worship or inquiry. I love stories. I love my jewelry to tell a story. It impacts how you feel."

There's an idea in India that art needs to produce "rasa" in the people experiencing it, she tells me. "Rasa means 'nectar' and any work isn't complete until the person experiencing it elicits rasa. I call the women attracted to my jewelry my "Rasiks." The woman who is really attracted to my jewelry is fully committed to unlocking her highest potential--to uncovering her highest self. And she's doing it to be of service."

Is it any wonder that her name means Dream in Hindi? The woman has a gift for creating jewelry that not only reminds us of our dreams but encourages us to push a little harder to achieve them.

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Please do yourself a favor and check out the work of Sapna Mehra. You can also find Sapna on Instagram (theglobalsoul).
 


originally published on darlaantoine.com