This story is the first in my series of ‘Bejewelled Legacy Of India’, where I will be talking about various jewellery legacies of India that have passed the test of time and still stand strong by bridging the past and the present beautifully.
The first legacy I present is one of Agra’s oldest names ‘Kohinoor Jewellers’. Having heard many wonderful things about the brand before hand, I was very eager to visit them and see all the amazing jewellery and artifacts with my own eyes.
Launched by the Mathur family in 1862, Kohinoor Jewellers is a family run business that took shape during the reign of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, gained immense popularity during the British rule and today, it is one of the must visits in Agra, after the glorious Taj Mahal ofcourse! In this story, I will be focusing on three key aspects of Kohinoor Jewellers- the legacy, the city and the setup and how together they make this wonderful identity named ‘Kohinoor Jewellers’.
I was lucky enough to be given a personal tour of their priciest possessions by the current flag bearer and the collector of such artifacts, Mr. Ghanshyam Mathur. Saved in their original packaging, I saw some of the finest jewels and artifacts like grand necklaces, miniature perfume bottles, ornate headgears, kurta buttons and daggers from the Mughal era. My absolute favourite was a 16th century string with emerald and spinel beads totaling to more than a whopping 250 carats.
Another great feature is the Kohinoor Museum where one by one exclusive thread and needle artworks unveil and leave you in a trance. These three-dimensional handcrafted embroidery artworks are decades old, preserved by the Mathur family and showcased to connoisseurs from all over the world. Some of the artworks even have gemstones sown into them. One artwork that is close to the hearts of the Mathur family is the one with Lord Jesus standing among a herd of lambs. Layers of threadwork and attention to details make the figure life like and literally give one goosebumps.
Amongst all these artworks are the recent additions of single stone marble statues of the great Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal (in whose memory he had created the Taj Mahal). The statues bring life to names that we have only heard or read in history books and are adorned with beautiful Indian jewellery and headpieces.
The three-floored showroom of Kohinoor jewellers also houses a design studio and manufacturing unit where many contemporary jewels are designed and manufactured, lead by the next generation of the Mathur family- Milind Mathur, his wife Ankita and sister Ruchira.
The city Agra, Mughal influences and flora fauna all play important roles in their design language and when clubbed with modern aesthetics, the brand is able to cater to a more universal clientele. This also keeps the brand deep-rooted to their traditions and heritage of a glamorous past, with an eye on the future, creating a dynamic and ever evolving identity.
Going beyond Agra, their latest collection is very contemporary in its approach and is inspired by the great Himalayan range. It uses the Paraiba Tourmaline, diamonds and an edgy form language to depict the lakes, the snow and the mountains respectively. An interaction with Milind Mathur revealed that as many of their clientele are foreign nationals and while they like Indian jewellery but it may not be a practical and wearable option for them back home and therefore, the contemporary and European styled jewellery is a big hit.