There is something very unique about Kanch. Kanch produces jewellery that relates to the Sri Lankan identity; to things we have grown up with. Having spent 18 years in the jewellery industry, Kanchana Wijayaratne decided to call it quits from the mass production market and find himself a niche. “Most jewellery you get in the market are made to similar designs and there is no indigenous creativity in them as such, because those designs are largely influenced by foreign countries” says Kanchana. As a designer he yearned for innovation in his craft. So he decided to come up with a Sri Lankan theme.
“Our jewellery tells a story” says Kanchana. Bored in making commonplace jewellery and feeling no great thrill in designing them, he longed for the challenge that comes from designing a complex piece of work. So Kanchana sketches the unique designs himself, having discovered his inherent talent for art quite recently. He comes up with beautiful ideas for jewellery on paper. From design to the soldering, from setting of the stone to the chosen materials, every one of his products has a story to tell. As a jeweller he is prepared to try novel approaches, and finds the job particularly challenging.
The Kanch range of products display a vast change from the ordinary. Whereas modern day jewellery designs are inspired by India, the Middle East or Europe, and have become the de facto standard in the Sri Lankan jewellery market, it is a refreshing change to see inspiration coming from right here, in Sri Lanka.
Kanch creates jewellery that talks about the history of the island, about things Sri Lankans grew up with, like vegetables, cultural icons, personal stories, and suchlike, so that when people wear them, they wear it with a certain national pride. Kanchana is passionate about all things Sri Lankan because it is a part of his life experiences. For him, jewellery is not about investment, or to be stored in a vault, but rather about the pleasure and joy of wearing it. Kanch does not forget to give the story of the piece to his overseas customers, especially when it is a product that showcases Sri Lankan heritage. Kanchana says that his customers value the background story very much.
Kanch does not influence their customers to go for any particular metal, like gold, white gold or diamond. The customer will decide, as long as it is practically feasible to implement the design in the chosen material. The good thing about this is the associated flexibility in pricing; because the customer can choose the material, the pricing would suite their purse.
Kanch has been about 3 years in the market as a niche jeweller. They have been operating without much publicity until now, and yet have a high reputation amongst the industry and their customers. Kanchana and his partner Upendra Gunawardhane have plans to expand their brand through social media, particularly in Sri Lanka. Consulting Kanch offers a wonderful opportunity to those who want a peace of jewellery custom made, for a very special occasion.
The first pieces of jewellery Kanchana designed were for the fun of it. He likes to constantly change the design to come up with exactly what he has in his mind. “Once I made the first piece and sold it, the feedback I got was absolutely awesome!” he recalls. That is what inspired him to develop his fancies into a trade. Kanch is the first to introduce this type of Jewellery, in this particular method of delivery.
The Karawila sketch (right) is a good example of how the status quo is regularly challenged. The craftsmen were lost as to how to cut the stone. Kanchana suggested that they simply set the ordinary stone up-side-down. This has never been thought of before, and it was a surprise. It was a first time for them.
Every item is produced on demand. Kanch targets the discerning customer who has an idea or vision about what they want, and the product has to convey a meaningful message or mark a milestone in their lives.
Kanchana spoke of a few of his customers who came to him with special requests, by relating their personal stories and asking him to represent them in his jewellery. That is the clincher for Kanchana – the knowledge that every piece of jewellery will forever be treasured and worn with deep sentimental value.
Kanch themes include ancient ruins, local fruits and vegetables, cultural events like the Perehera (religious procession), temple art & murals, masks & puppets, and last but not least, personal stories of their customers.
If you are interested, you could visit the Kanch at their Facebook page, and choose from the many designs displayed, or you could contact Kanchana (+94 727 314340) or Upendra (+94 773 428445) and tell them what design you want. It is dialog based design process, and a very personalised experience.
Story | Nilu Rajapakse