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Bringing dreams to life!



by Zanita Careem

Q: When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?


I am an economics graduate and never really thought of diving into the jewellery business. However, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My parents were in the gem trade and I self-learned the different qualities of sapphires. We export superior, high-quality sapphires to the west, and I wanted to make these sapphires available to the locals – in the hope of designing their dream jewellery using these world-class gemstones. Thus, Aaraa and Aati was founded 4 years ago.

Q: Who are your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?


There have been many people who have helped me along the way and I am incredibly thankful for their support. But if I was to name an industry-level mentor, it would be none other than Naleem Hajjiar – with whom I had the fortune of spending some time during my childhood.

My Dad and Uncle regularly associated with Naleem Hajjiar and used to tell me loads of stories about him and about their experiences with him. I recall this one instance when I visited his house – he looked me in the eyes and said that there was something about me. And that has remained in my mind ever since! I always aspired to be like him! His high standard of ethics, honesty and integrity is something that I’ve always wanted to imitate. And I think that the best advice I’ve ever received from my mentors is to be honest in the trade; be ethical and make the customer your king.

Q: What was your biggest fear when starting a new jewellery piece to a customer?


Working with very high standards, the biggest challenge is to match reality with the concept given to us. Since we specialise in highly curated jewellery, it’s sometimes very challenging to bring someone’s dreams to life. But that is what makes us different, and that’s a challenge that we have been taking and have been successful in doing so.

Q: Have you ever dealt with a difficult customer?


Since we specialise in high-end, highly curated jewellery, every customer is aware of our standards and quality. It’s always lovely to work with the customers. The only difficulty we might face is in terms of their clarity i.e. if they aren’t aware of what they want for themselves. But that’s quite rare with our clientele.

Q: Who would you most likely see wearing your jewellery?


Our services are of the highest quality with the best value for money. Even on that level of standard, our products are very affordable. Our products are usually worn by married couples, corporate leaders, and mature jewellery masterpiece collectors. 

Q: What are your unique designs? Where did you get your inspiration from?


We do not have readymade jewellery in the high-end category because we only focus on customised ones. But we have introduced a value-for-money collection called the Surf collection which features unique pendants using seashells. We have incorporated a sapphire – from the middle of the earth – within a sea shell – from the middle of the sea – and that, I believe, is really unique.

The inspiration behind the Surf collection was Sri Lanka and tourism because we are a lovely island with world-class beaches and I absolutely love the sun, sea and sand. Therefore, I wanted to create something for all the beach lovers out there. 

Q: Which piece are you most proud of? Can you tell the story behind it?


The seashell pendants are what I am most proud of because it is unique – bringing two worlds together. Interestingly, the idea struck me when I was on holiday with my family in the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Walking along the beautiful beach, I noticed the lovely sea shells around me and was inspired to create beautiful jewellery with it. Adding sapphires to these gorgeous creations of nature make it even more special and rare.

Q: What qualities do you look for in the perfect pieces of jewellery?


It has to be handcrafted to the highest quality because there are machine-made goods that are selling for cheap. I’ve always appreciated handmade jewellery because it has the human touch. The rarity of the gemstone that goes in to your jewellery is another quality to look for. At Aaraa & Aati, all our high-end jewellery are handmade, and the gemstones are of international standard. Unlike most others, we do not try to save weight in a gemstone. Instead, our gemstones are well cut to bring out their spark.

Q: What’s your favourite piece of jewellery that you’ve made before and why?


Although we specialise in engagement rings, I have loved to make earrings with high quality gemstones – for the very reason that you need to find 2 pieces of gemstone similar in look and weight. And that’s pretty rare because gemstones are naturally occurring.

Q: What challenges do you face in your work?


One of the challenges that we face as an industry is getting high quality jewellery boxes manufactured in Sri Lanka. Not having a perfect box to showcase your jewellery after having done everything else perfectly is quite discouraging. I’m yet to find a high-quality, jewellery box producer. So if anyone reading this knows of someone who can be a perfect fit, please get in touch.

Another issue is that Sri Lanka does not position its gem and jewellery industry the way that other countries like Australia do. Australia has done an incredible job to promote its industry as ethical sourcing mines. Sri Lankan mines are ethical too but why aren’t we promoting it? We have to start collaborating with good PR firms to position our country as a source of ethical gemstone mining and trading. And that should be done immediately. 

Q: Why only teal sapphire?


We deal in all kinds of sapphires but have been primarily exporting Teal to our customers. In my opinion, there are only 2 variants of sapphires where two colours mix well. One is the Padparadscha sapphire – a mixture of orange and pink, and the other is the Teal sapphire – a mixture of green and blue. No other two-coloured gemstone looks as good.

Q: Do u have more clients who choose teal sapphires?


Internationally, the teal sapphire is a huge trend. In Sri Lanka, the younger generation is increasingly opting for newer colours, having become bored of diamonds and blue sapphires. Thus, I see an upward trend in demand for teal sapphires in the future locally as well.

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Foreign News

Rupert Murdoch set to marry for fifth time at 92




Rupert Murdoch and Ann Lesley Smith (pic BBC)

BBC reported that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has announced his engagement to his partner Ann Lesley Smith, a former police chaplain.

Murdoch, 92, and  Smith, 66, met in September at an event at his vineyard in California.

The Businessman told the New York Post,one of his own publications: “I dreaded falling in love – but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.”

He split with fourth wife Jerry Hall last year.

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Life style

Children’s happiness with gardening



By Arjuna Hulugalle

On October 7th 2022, Homagama Subarathi Maha Vidyalaya in Godagama Homagama commenced their Home Garden Program, with the support of Nest, a Community based Mental Health organisation. The objective was to reduce the short fall of food in the diet of the children and to deal with malnutrition in the school population. Both the teachers dealing with Agriculture and Domestic Science have been involved in the initiative.

The outcome of the programme has many positive developments. Both the teaching staff and the children have shown great enthusiasm. Children’s happiness with gardening became evident. The students began to understand the importance of eating organic vegetables and the role of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Open air exercise which gardening brings with it has added to better health. The students have also realized that our country does not have to worry about hunger and malnourishment, if one uses available resources.

The first stage of the Subarathi Maha Vidyalaya program is to create a model garden in the school premises. Even classrooms are encouraged to be used for accommodating “grow bags” with various types of yams.The second stage of the programme is to make model gardens in the homes of 100 senior students with special interest in agriculture. The parents of the students are also drawn into this program.The third stage is for the 100 seniors to concentrate on the balance 2500 students and motivate them to set up model gardens in their homes.


The Model Home Garden in School

The School garden has a representative selection of vegetables but is concentrating on Dambala, Cabbage, Long beans of two varieties, Turnips, Occra and KankunA spice garden is being developed with three varieties of chillies, two varieties of kochchi, mint, celery and pepper.

Yams are being grown in “grow bags” inside cClass rooms. The varieties propagated are Kiri Ala and Bathala.Trees grown in the school premises are Delum, two varieties of Nelli and Murunga.

Model Home gardens of the selected 100 students

These are being trained for their tasks of developing their own model home gardens and also to motivate the other 2500 students of the school and set up Home Gardens in their own homes.Intensive training sessions have been conducted starting with Dr Lionel Weerkoon, a world renowned authority on home gardens and Dr Anuruddha Padeniya who spoke on the value of organic agriculture.

The students were given packets of seeds of bitter gourd, pumpkin, kankun, Occra, long beans, dambala, green chillies and beans. Those students who have space in their homes, were also given trees and plants to be planted in their own home gardens. The saplings included Murunga, Jack, Nelli, Del, Delum, Avocado, Orange and Divul.

The Role of the Parents and the past students

The Home Garden program is supported by the Parents and past students and soon will interact more with the community at large. Already, they have contributed towards a sprinkler system for the School Garden.In the long term the Home Garden program can grow into market gardening in the community.

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Life style

Dance Epicure first Dinner Dance Theatre



Dance Epicure Shangri-La Colombo & Shangri-La Hambantota Director of Communications Ramesha Samarasinghe, John Keells Holdings Vice President, Head of Sales and Marketing (Property Group) Nadeem Shums, With My Feet Co-Founder Trevor Rajaratnam, Standard Chartered Bank Head of Consumer, Private & Business Banking Aroshana Fernando & Maliban Biscuit Group Head of Corporate Affairs & Strategy Asoka Bandara

A captivating evening of dinner and dance – Dance Epicure by ‘With My Feet’ brings UK champion dancers and the best of Sri Lankan talent to the same stage Dance Epicure, Sri Lanka’s very first Dinner Dance Theatre concept produced by With My Feet is all set to entertain and delight on the 2nd of April at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. The vision and brainchild of the legendary Naomi Rajaratnam, the uniquely curated evening of dance and gastronomy produced by the Colombo Dance Theatre will feature a roster of extraordinary international and local dancers paired with a night of culinary delight.

The latest initiative by Naomi, the Colombo Dance Theatre comprises of a company of elite international and local dancers woven firmly together by masterful choreography and a great love for dance. Dance Epicure will not only be the Theatre’s inaugural performance, but also the first of its kind in Sri Lanka; where artfully choreographed dance segments will be performed between a four-course sit-down menu. The highly anticipated event will feature the likes of world-renowned dancers – namely five-time undefeated UK National Latin American Champions Gunnar Gunnarsson and Marika Doshoris, as well as the formidable Nauris Kalva and Manuja Hughes, Blackpool Open Smooth Champions – sharing the stage with the best Sri Lankan dancers from Naomi’s own dance company With My Feet.

Naomi’s desire to uplift dancers from far-flung rural areas in Sri Lanka by providing them with the opportunities and spotlight they deserve has always been encapsulated in her dance showcases. It is with this vision in mind that Dance Epicure will also feature a heart-warming performance by the children of the Warehouse Project; an urban community solution in partnership with the Sri Narada Foundation. Additionally, as with all of Naomi’s shows, part of the proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will go towards the Dev Siri Sevana Elders Home in Welisara.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Naomi Rajaratnam said, “I am so honoured that some of the UK’s leading dancers have chosen to collaborate with us, and I am equally thrilled to be able to showcase the best of our Sri Lankan talent on the same platform.”

“The concept of a Dinner Dance Theatre has been on my mind for the longest time and I couldn’t think of a better moment to finally turn this dream into a reality,” she added. “The calibre of these world-renowned dancers paired with the best of With My Feet dancers is the perfect opportunity to offer a something truly unique to our Sri Lankan audience.”

The principal partners of Dance Epicure are Standard Chartered Bank Priority, Maliban Biscuit Manufactories, John Keells Properties, Sri Lankan Airlines, Shangri-La Colombo, Wijeya Newspapers and Capital Maharaja Group.

Tickets for Dance Epicure go on sale on Saturday the 11 th of March 2023 and can be purchased online at With My Feet social media pages will soon be updated with where tickets can be purchased offline.

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