Blinging it On
I WAS BORN IN A MARWARI INDUSTRIALIST family in Uttar Pradesh and had the best of upbringing. My parents raised me by acquainting me with the rich culture of the state and inspiring me with the rich legacy of my Marwari roots. Since childhood, my family has instilled in me the qualities of a true Marwari: Someone who works hard, someone who appreciates life and aspires to be a spectacular entrepreneur. I still remember an incident when I was eight years old: My parents had taken us on a family vacation. Every morning we would get a fixed amount of money with which we were to manage our expenses such as food, travelling, etc, and then give a full account of it at night. These seemingly unimportant experiences always would make me wonder as to why they were necessary, but later in life I realised that they had taught me the value of money and how to manage it. It’s no surprise then that today I personally manage the finances of my company, Diagold, which is known across the length and breadth of India and beyond for its bespoke designer jewellery.
I have experienced much in life, but the times I have spent with my family are something that I will cherish always. The annual trips to Rani Sati Mandir in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, for example were really fascinating and remain etched in my memory. The picnics with my cousins, the beauty of Rajasthan and the sparkling stars in the sky would inspire me, and I remember how as a painter I would try to capture them on my canvas.
Then I got married into a traditional Marwari joint family in Kolkata that had loads of relatives and followed all the beautiful traditions of Marwaris. I continued following my passion of painting portraits, sketching with oils and watercolours, as I realised that it not only gave me happiness but also was my forte. Luckily, my family was very supportive.
After marriage, we had this tradition of making an annual trip to our native village, Laxmangarh, in Rajasthan, and staying at our beautiful haveli. The entire family, including cousins and elders, would come together for this vacation. They would adore the beauty of Rajasthan and celebrate the togetherness and take pride in being Marwaris. The scrumptious food, the kanjiwaras and the chaats, the long walks to the Salasar Balaji Temple, which was almost 32 km from our haveli, are some fond memories of those trips. We would go for walks early in the morning or late in the evening to beat the heat and would revel in the glorious sunrises and sunsets over the golden desert.
A budding passion
Gradually, Rajasthan’s rich artistic traditions, especially kundan polki jewellery (with emeralds) and delicate mina work began to attract me to the world of jewellery. Actually, it happened by sheer coincidence. I remember, at that time most pieces of jewellery used to be very traditional and heavy, which were not very appealing design-wise, whereas I always preferred lightweight jewellery with a blend of traditional and modern aesthetics that could make a statement. Soon I started designing my own jewellery by blending Indian and international styles, creating aesthetically beautiful and friends and relatives started appreciating the jewellery I used to wear and asked me if I would design pieces for them as well. This really motivated me and gave me a new passion in life. It was then that I decided I wanted to design jewellery. But before actually getting down to it, I wanted to study diamonds and get a proper guidance on designing and, therefore, made up my mind to go to the US and do my graduation from the Gemological Institute of America.
From aspirant to acclaimed designer
After graduating, I returned to India and started designing jewellery with more passion, employing the best of design practices that I had learnt at the Gemological Institute. Thereafter, I opened my first store in Kolkata, and with that my foray into the world of jewellery began.
I love to travel. I draw inspiration from the places I visit and the people I meet while travelling, and with these, I try to combine the essence of the East and the West and create pieces which are stunning, make a statement and also bring out the femininity of the Indian woman. My collections are inspired by India’s rich culture and the fusion power. Our jadtar jewellery, for instance, is inspired by the royalty of Rajasthan.
Among our karigars (craftsmen), we have those who specialise in diamond jewellery—they are mostly from small villages near Kolkata—and those from Bikaner and Jaipur who work on our jadau pieces. The pomp and splendour of polkis, the beautiful minakaris, the cascading emerald cabochons and the coral and peacock motifs form the essence of some of our breathtaking collections such as the Amer and Jodha collections, among others, and they have been appreciated by all.
Starting from a small store in Kolkata to building my brand and then expanding to Delhi, Mumbai and London has been a splendid journey for me. It reminds me of how a small step that I took years ago has now become my greatest stride in life. With these achievements has come worldwide exposure through participation in various international exhibitions and along with it status and recognition. Our client list now features the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Bollywood actresses and some of the top business families of India. Transcending borders, East and has retail operations in London as well.
Experimenting and creating
Talking about design basics, I try to combine traditional motifs with international craftsmanship and finish. I often use gold in offbeat colours that are far more exciting than the traditional yellow, white or pink variants. I also love to experiment with different kinds of layering and texturing of products. Sometimes, I use innovative concepts such as steel meshes combined with diamonds and coloured stones to create a Paris du jour-like collection, or use leather with wood to create a different class of jewellery altogether. Coloured diamonds— champagne, yellow, and pink—other than white diamonds, in various shapes and sizes are also frequently used. My jewellery recognises the kinetic aspect of modern life, because if movements are to highlight the brilliance of the stones, the key to these would be incorporating flexible links in my creative products.
Intrinsic Marwari values
Though my journey has been challenging, it has offered me the opportunity to travel to some of the most interesting places on earth. I have met princesses in Saudi Arabia, rubbed shoulders with the glitterati in Singapore, hosted fashion shows in London, explored the by-lanes of Jaipur and Bikaner and met Bollywood fashionistas. But at the core of it, it was my Marwari values of hard work, perseverance, money management and entrepreneurship that characterised my journey and made it as exciting and fruitful as it has been.