SantanJewellery Mould Maker
The goldsmiths and silversmiths of Garanhata street can nowadays be found working on costume and artificial jewellery, which have slowly made inroads to take their place alongside gold and silver. From the furnaces that line this street, there has also emerged a rare craft of jewellery mould making, which deserves a special mention.
We interviewed Santan da, a brass smith who has inherited his grandfather’s legacy in the form of his jewellery shop. His grandfather first made these moulds 70 years ago. Santan da offers exclusive designs as well as more popular ones that are taken from magazines in the form of ripped sheets, neatly bound into catalogues for the client to choose from. Jewellers from all across West Bengal come to Santan da’s shop to procure these brass moulds, which are sold by weight.
He works with specific suppliers of raw metal, which come in different sizes depending on the nature of the jewellery to be created: nose ring, pendant, necklace, mangalsutra and so on. “If you bring us a necklace design, we first get the master mould outsourced—a mould for the moulds which is made by chipping the stone, just like stone idols are carved out of a block of stone. Then we go on to making our own moulds,” Santan da explained.
“Everything in this process is completely handmade. I use the ‘hathuri’, the ‘chimta’. When the fire blazes red, we use the ‘hathuri’ to shape and size the mould into circles, squares or triangles. When cold, we treat it and it's ready. For a small mould—the entire process takes 15-20 days. The big moulds have to be outsourced, they can go up to 1-1.5 kg. The small ones can be done inside the shop,” he said.
Santan da added that the demand for these moulds has fallen drastically, especially in his generation. “Today, these moulds are very rare.”