Alankaara’s Amrita Giriraj discusses the idea of infusing flora into handcrafted jewellery. On a 72 km trek, high up in the mountains (12,000 ft. above sea level) in Govindghat, Uttarakhand, Amrita Giriraj finds herself heaving a backpack full of hiking essentials and books. And no, she isn’t a bibliophile.

“I needed the books for my flowers,” laughs Amrita who started Alankaara in 2016. The handmade jewellery brand comprises pieces where fossilised flora take centre stage. “The idea of that trip was to source unique flowers from the Himalayas,” she adds.

While she did bring back five varieties, carefully cocooned within thick books, what she also came back with was stiff knees, and a shoulder pain, as a result of lugging them around. The flowers from that memorable getaway — rhododendrons, carrot flowers, silver willows, maiden’s hair and buckwheat flowers — are now encased in pendants, statement rings, earrings and bracelets. The colours of the flowers vary from electric blue to hot pink.

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The idea of working with flowers came to her after the Chennai floods in 2015. “My garden was washed away after the rains. I found flowers in the debris and wanted to make something out of them.

The first thing I created was a terrarium using bougainvillea, ixora, hibiscus and millets,” says Amrita. Other than her garden, she also sources flowers from Koyambedu market, and her flower seller who comes by her door. “I do not believe in plucking flowers. I pick them up when they fall from the plant or trees,” she adds.

Jewellery made from flowers, anybody?

Her current line showcases 12 flowers from the African countryside. “I visited Nairobi in December and was mesmerised by what I found there,” she says. She has used larkspur — a blood red African flower, dancing girls, delphinium among others.

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The size and shape of the jewellery varies according to the flower used. The designs are edgy and comprise chunky pendants set in bronze frame. This collection is still a work in progress. Her studio is filled with dried flowers and big fat books on gardening.

The tables are lined with intricate pendants, filled with flowers and resin and set out to dry in a row. On one side are identical earrings with pink flowers. “It’s a custom order for a bachelorette,” says the 27-year-old alumna of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru. Other custom orders include boxes, charms and memorabilia.

A wooden chest lies by her work table. “It’s full of flowers and garlands belonging to my clients,” she says, adding, “A lot of them want flowers from their wedding garlands or bouquets from Valentine’s Day to be preserved in the form of wall hangings, trays or ornaments.”

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