Sarath Selvanathan’s words tumble out into a hurried 20 minute phone chat, and yet they are polished and require little sorting. The jewellery designer’s tales are like tiny gemstones – burnished, pointy and precious, rubies ready to woo.
“Appa was a med student-turned-diamond merchant-turned jeweler all thanks to a troop of Gujarati classmates…a village whose economy runs on hand-painted tiles caught my fancy….I decided to get a nose piercer to hang around at the tea party, just in case…”
Chennai-based Sarath, whose Appa (father) has been in the diamond business since the 1980s, started out like many second generation kids do – rejecting the family business. Instead, he got a degree in engineering and joined the power sector. Soon though, he was unable to resist the family business shine, but before joining Appa he “did what any good South Indian boy would do – go study”. Sarath learned the diamond trade at IGA, BKC and jewellery design with Gautam Bannerjee; took a family business course at IIM Bangalore; and one in luxury business at IIM Ahmedabad.
In 2016, the prodigal sun returned to Chennai, shining at his family jewellery boutique that you can gain access to only by word of reference. “When I took a friend’s simple diamond stud nose pin and designed it into a more elaborate piece, I realised that it’s the only ornament that really changes the way a person looks.”
And so Mookuthi was born, a homegrown jewellery label exclusively dedicated to nose pins, “hand crafted” out of gold and precious stones. Olfactory made, not factory made.
Mookuthy launched late last year, but has been sitting quietly since, still not venturing into the online market. “I like to sell Mookuthi through intimate events that will soon be touring Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.” These have included Mookuthi Tea Parties where you can shop for nose pins, drink tea, and maybe raise money for a charity. But even Sarath knows that tea and cake can’t solve everything – ignoring the collective gasp out of Kala Ghoda now – and is planning an online store launch in August.
Olfactory made, not factory made.
Meanwhile, browse their social media or email to buy a piece (or five) from Mookuthi’s three collections: Antique, featuring dull gold nose pins studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, inspired by old-world architectural motifs from temples and houses down south; or Timeless, a line that revives traditional designs from Tamil Nadu. “My favourite is Athangudi, inspired by a village of the same name, whose economy thrives on hand painted tiles. We worked with Meenakari artists in Jaipur to replicate the tile designs on such a small surface area.”
Mookuthi’s pieces are for all kinds of noses, but they do have one rule: “no clip on nose pins please!” In fact, Sarath ensures that a piercing expert hangs around at their sale events just in case, and this has yielded surprising results. “At our last party we pierced 13 noses, including one that belonged to a 63 year-old woman from Finland!”
Nice Rhino plasty…er party!
Getting there: View Mookuthi’s Facebook page here, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a catalogue or call Sarath on 98843335337, prices range from Rs 3,950 to Rs 30,000 for the Timeless nose pins.
Hat tip to Meera Ganapathi, who sniffed out these nose pins on Instagram.
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