Ashaa-Sebastian

Kochi: There is only one building along the Panampilly Nagar stretch in Kochi which stands out from the rest of the boutiques and shops lining the street. It is none other than M.O.D Jewellers. The unique exterior is just an ‘introduction’ to the exquisite jewellery collections adorning the interiors of the shop. The classy outlet is designed in a way that you will not feel like walking in unless you have a superior taste. Ashaa Sebastian, the brain behind the shop, is all excited when she starts talking about the yellow metal. Ashaa’s love affair with gold started when she was very young. “During my engagement, way back in 1983, I preferred body jewellery (armlet, waist belt) to a simple necklace. Since I could not find anything that would interest me in my locality or even after travelling to Bengaluru, I finally met a kaarigar in Kochi who could customize jewellery. I gave him a modern design for an armlet jewellery (vangi) which turned out to be really a unique piece. This piqued my interest and boosted  my confidence,” Ashaa narrates the story of her journey.

The first design gave her the assurance and eventually she started designing other accessories too. Ashaa still remembers the chain she had designed which looked like braided hair. She had designed up to 35 sovereigns of gold when she was just 19. “When I wore the self-designed jewellery at my engagement, everyone was astonished on seeing the distinctive design and started enquiring about it,” says a beaming Ashaa. Getting married in to the Mattathil family, which was already into jewellery making, helped Ashaa in taking her passion to the next level. She drew appreciation from the family members and close friends for the bespoke designs she crafted for her son Akshay. This encouragement from friends and family boosted her faith and made her venture out on her own with her signature jewellery store.

“Even at the Mattathil Jewellers in Pala, I tried to bring my own jewellery line, a truly chic design set, which helped me gain fame,” says Ashaa. “People were so much interested in what I had to offer. Though I was residing at Pala, people from far off places started coming seeking my service,” Ashaa remembers how it all started.

With celebrities choosing to wear Ashaa’s jewellery on important occasions, her name and designs soon became famous. Ashaa says her designs stand out because she puts her heart and soul into each one of them and tries to render a more natural appeal. “Women are passionate about jewellery as they are a symbol of feminity and even social status. Jewellery has always made women feel beautiful and bold,” says Ashaa. She also feels that jewellery should enhance the beauty of a woman who wears it, and keeping this in mind, she customises and designs them considering various aspects like the budget, colour of the saree, complexion, age, occasion etc. A very proud Ashaa is all praise for the karigars, who handmake every piece of jewellery that she designs.

“Jewellery is a dialogue, it speaks. You can understand what a person is, looking at the jewellery he or she wears,” says Ashaa. “The customers who walk in now are more aware of the designs, the history and the importance of the jewellery unlike in the earlier days, thanks to the internet. It is easy to work with those who give freedom to the designer and trust him or her,” says Ashaa.

She is also happy that many of the famous jewellery shop owners are coming to her to design ornaments for their daughter’s wedding. Revival of old classic designs by her has also been widely applauded. Ashaa also revealed her plans to hit the international market with her specially-crafted designs and set a new benchmark. “It is very difficult to procure enough hand-crafted jewellery, to meet the demand, ahead of going global, as it requires a laborious task of finding kaarigars who can do hand-crafted designs these days,” says Ashaa.

Akshay Sebastian, Ashaa’s elder son, is now looking after the business.