ell me a story. Tell me about the gorgeous ring that he slipped on your finger. Tell me about that teeka you inherited from your dadi. Tell me about the fabulous earrings you treated yourself to when you got that first promotion.

Sikara Necklace
“Branching Out” pendant ($250) from the Mantra collection.

“How do you create a bond between a woman and her jewelry?” wondered Mousumi Shaw, founder of Sikara Jewelry.

The answer: Tell her a story.

Traditionally, that story has stemmed from a sentimental attachment to whoever gave us the jewelry in the first place.

But today’s woman—as evidenced by the DeBeers campaign that urges us to “raise your right hand”—isn’t waiting for a spouse or a saas to finally fulfill her dreams of diamonds.

Enter Sikara, a new jewelry company that features four collections, each inspired by a different country. Granted, this isn’t a new idea; lots of jewelry is influenced by place. But in most collections, that inspiration is usually limited to the choice of colors and materials. Sikara’s collections, based on India, Egypt, Eastern Europe and Mexico, borrow from Islamic architecture, from the Eastern European coastline, from mantras and from nature. Each piece reflects the country it comes from perfectly, and yet, “You can be wearing a Latin American ring and wear it with Indian earrings. I’m Indian at the core, but I have different sides to me, too.”

We share a story every time we sell a piece.

It is the story of the country emanating from each piece that creates that elusive bond between a woman and her jewelry. “We share a story every time we sell a piece … When a woman buys from us, the story of where it comes from gives her more attachment to the piece.”

And whether women buy their jewels or inherit them, it is the stories the pieces come with, and the stories that women create with them, that make them special.

Mousumi Shaw
Mousumi Shaw.

What’s In a Name

Sikara is inspired by the Indian word “shikara,” which means houseboat. It symbolizes life’s journey—one that is a fusion of experiences. As a teenager, Mousumi Shaw helped her mother, an immigrant from India, start her own jewelry company in the United States. Fourteen years later, Mousumi launched Sikara, which fuses her passions for art, jewelry and other cultures.


ikara founder Mousumi Shaw may have taken a circuitous route to the jewelry industry, but she’s really returning to her roots. As a teenager in south Texas, Shaw helped her mother with her jewelry business. The most important thing she inherited from that experience was the joy she felt in “helping customers find something they love.”

Heading over to the East coast, Shaw graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in economics and South Asian studies before moving on to Harvard to get her MBA and a Master’s in Public Administration.

Having knocked around the corporate world for a few years, Shaw wondered, “How can I incorporate my passions into my work?” One of those passions was travel—she has visited more than 30 countries. Another passion was a love for photography, which translated into a good eye for design. In fact, all the travel photography on the Sikara web site is Shaw’s own.

Shaw calls Sikara the “Coach bag” of the jewelry industry.

And so, though she’d never planned on going back into jewelry, Shaw did some market research and talked to the head of QVC and the CEO of Tiffany. “I found a void in the jewelry space. There were a lot of brands on the high end and the low end, but nothing in the middle,” she says. In effect, there was nothing like “the Coach bag of the jewelry industry.”

Two pieces from Sikara
Left: Pendant featuring a Quranic verse in modern Arabic. Right: The best-selling “Mexican Twist” ring.

So the plan for Sikara took shape and took off. Currently, Sikara pieces are available at a variety of venues, such as spas, galleries, and museums, including the Asia Society in New York City and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Shaw’s plans for the future include both branding and philanthropy. She wants to approach tony emporiums like Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York in the near future, envisioning freestanding Sikara stores selling luggage and other Sikara-branded accessories in the long term. And eventually, Shaw hopes to set up a system in which part of the proceeds will go to the countries the collections are named after. Style, silver and social service–quite a fusion indeed. n

Nakasha Ahmad loves jewelry so much that sometimes she can’t resist walking by anything sparkly without stopping first.
Published on September 1, 2006.
Photography: Courtesy of Sikara Jewelry.

More Information

Sikara Jewelry

Comments are closed.
  1. April 23, 2008, 10:07 pm Hasib

    you are so sweet.

  2. July 31, 2008, 1:26 pm Jen walia

    Looks cheap and imitation. Nothing original