Deepali Sawlani's designs are elegant and trendy, relying on the natural beauty of the stones and a play of colours rather than complex patterns

From portfolio manager with an international company to jewellery designer may seem like a major change of track but for Deepali Sawlani, it was just a matter of following her heart.

The Dubai-based youngster studied finance and economics in the US and was co-managing seven billion dollars for Dell Computers when she decided to quit the world of finance and the US and came back to Dubai to launch her jewellery collection.

Deepali's collection of colourful necklaces, bracelets and earrings, hand-crafted from precious stones and silver, is now available in Dubai at Ivy in Mercato Mall, XVA Gallery in the Bastakiya Heritage Village and at the newly-opened SK's Concept Store in Jumeirah.

She has also designed an exclusive line in 18k gold for Al Liali Jewellery, Dubai.

Deepali got interested in jewellery when her mother wanted to gift her a solitaire and asked her to choose it.

"I am a technical minded person and like to study a subject thoroughly before venturing into it. I did a lot of research on diamonds and knew all about the four Cs before I made my purchase," she says.

By coincidence, a few weeks later, she found herself seated next to a jeweller on a flight.

"She was amazed at how much I knew about diamonds. She told me that there was a jeweller hidden inside me and suggested that I should consider doing a course in gemmology at the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA)," recalls Deepali.

That seemed a distant possibility as Deepali had just begun her career in finance. But those words came back to her when after a few years in the stressful and often monotonous job, Deepali felt the need to do something creative.

She enrolled at the GIA and graduated top of her class.

"A jeweller has a relationship of trust with his customers. Most people know little about precious stones and rely on their trusted jewellers to find them flawless stones and quote the right price.

"I became a graduate gemmologist because I wanted to be able to provide the best quality stones to my customers and learn the necessary skills to ensure that they could trust my judgment," she says.

During the course, she developed a love for coloured stones. Fortunately, a wedding in her family took her to Jaipur, the Indian city well known as a centre for trading in precious stones.

"I was amazed and inspired by the variety of stones available and bought kilos of the best quality beads I could find and began working on my first collection, which is inspired by the colours I see in nature and by the colours and shapes of the stones," says the designer.

Deepali uses precious stones such as amethyst, turquoise, tourmaline, amber, mother of pearl, aquamarine and rose quartz interwoven with fresh water pearls and silver to create multi-layered necklaces and chokers and beautiful bracelets, brooches, pendants and earrings.

She makes most of the pieces herself in her studio. "I am particular about the craftsmen I use and work only with those who handle the stones gently," she says.

Her designs are elegant and trendy, relying on the innate beauty of the stones and a play of colours rather than complex patterns.

"Jewellery should not be only for weddings and special occasions. I want to create jewellery for everyday use. Even though I use only the best quality precious stones, I am determined to keep my prices within the Dh150 to Dh3,000 range," she says.

Deepali would also like to share her knowledge of gemmology and jewellery trends with others and plans to hold workshops on how to buy jewellery and differentiate between fake or damaged and genuine, good quality stones.

She will hold a free gemmology workshop at the Dubai Ladies Club, Jumeirah, on January 12, 2005, at 6.30pm.