January 2018 may have started on a slow note but it certainly ended with a bang. I was fortunate to be on a one-of-a-kind jewellery trip across India. While the photographs created a lot of buzz on social media, many people asked me what this trip was all about. So here it goes my experience at the ‘Jewellery Travel With Elena Veselaya- India tour’…
Channeling her expertise in a new direction, ‘Jewellery Travel With Elena Veselaya’ is a venture by renowned Russian journalist Elena Veselaya. The main purpose of these trips is to take the curious travelers to meet jewellery designers/ company founders in various parts of the globe. The trips are fun, plush and nothing but full of sparkles. Having been to Geneva, Hong Kong, New York and London, Elena’s latest and first ever trip to India was scheduled for Jan 2018.
The itinerary included visits to Mumbai, Jaipur and Delhi (in that order) and was booming with names of India’s finest jewellers and a few elusive names from the fashion industry. Having known Elena for a few years now, I was happy to pitch in with my expertise and contacts when Elena was detailing out her itinerary.
The trip started with Mumbai on a sunny afternoon in January and the first stop was with none other than the flamboyant Farah Khan at her Bandra boutique. While the women cooed away looking at the brightly colourful jewellery, Khan effortlessly mesmerized them with her jewels and her charm.
A little closer to town was our second stop at Sajjante by Sajil Shah. Having already exhibited his jewels at Symbolic & Chase, London, in his short career Shah has a unique boutique in Kemps corner and the jewels are worth a look. As one delicate jewel came after every other seriously bold one, it proved only one point that Sajil was here to make a statement with his jewellery.
The next afternoon the ladies set off for a high tea with Juliet de La Rochefoucault at Bina Goenka‘s Grand Hyatt boutique for the book launch of ‘Women Jewellery Designers’ by Juliet where Bina’s work has also been featured. A beautiful setup of jewels and the book made up the afternoon along with an interesting presentation by Juliet about the designers featured in the book.
Vishal Kothari’s VAK Jewels have been making a certain noise in the international jewellery market recently, for his unique use of diamonds- both in terms of cut and design. Dressed in their latest shopping from Rohit Bal, the ladies set of to Vishal’s house for a dinner amongst fine jewels. A pleasant evening with live music, yummy Indian delicacies was topped of with some unusual jewellery concepts.
Our last day in Mumbai was the most anticipated as it included one of the most sought after names of Indian jewellery industry- Viren Bhagat. With our hearts racing we all entered his boutique and for the next three hours he showed us one mesemrising jewel after another and we were fortunate enough to hold a few very historically important jewels in our own hands. As the Sun set, we all got ready into our very own fineries and set off to meet Viren and his sons over a private sit down dinner where over an unending flow of wine, he shared stories of his travels world wide.
With some wonderful days spent in company of great minds and some very serious diamond jewellery we set of to Jaipur- to explore the world of traditional Indian jewellery. Our first stop straight after landing was the Gyan Museum. Exploring antique fabrics, jewels and accessories from the personal collection of late Mr. Gyan Chand Dhadda, a lunch in the museum library, a visit to the factory and appreciating Gem Plaza jewels was more than we could have asked for from one afternoon.
The evening was full of some wonderful jewels courtesy Saboo Fine Jewels and tastebud-tickling home cooked food. With Surendra Saboo talking about his jewels, it was evident that the master loved both traditional kundan polki as well international flavours of coloured gemstones and diamond jewellery. The jewels on display ranged from hasli (torque like necklaces) set with uncut diamonds to titanium bangles to opal & emerald fine jewellery.
While the next morning started on more touristy note for the ladies, with visit to Jaipur palaces and elephant rides giving them a flavour to the Mughal era, the evening was lined up with jewels from the regal times. And what better place than Santi Chaudhary’s Mughal era den ‘Royal Gems & Art’, with genuine wall frescos and carpets. While we all sipped our wines, Krishna Chaudhary, the son, put up a theater-like performance for us- with his focus lights set, one velvet box came after the other. As the size of the box grew bigger, so did the importance and the preciousness of the jewel. The story for each jewel was completed with references from important coffee table books. The evening ended with a beautiful and sumptuous dinner setup in front of the shop overlooking the forts of Jaipur.
Next was a busy day with the morning scheduled at Amrapali‘s iconic Panch Batti boutique. As Tarang Arora showed us his most magnificent creations, we couldn’t help trying on each piece just to see how the Amrapali jewellery immediately turned us into a royalty. From tribal silver jewellery to the Manish Arora collection to the high jewellery, Amrapali’s charm surely rubbed off the ladies.
A quick tour to the private sections of the Chandra Mahal, City Palace, with Samir Kasliwal and we headed to his famous shop Gem Palace. As he sat down behind a low desk, jewels came pouring out from every corner. As high value diamonds and pearls passed on from one hand to another casually, important names from global royal familes and celebrities across the globe came popping out from old customer feedback books.
With so much history and legacy to digest, the last day in Jaipur was reserved for two upcoming names in the jewellery industry- Sonal Sawansukha of Jewel Saga and Ankit Lodha of Jewels of Jaipur. As Ankit showed around his larger than life ring collection and kundan polki jewels, Sonal enthralled the audience with her plique-a-jour technique, some fun spinning jewels and peacock feather earrings.
As we wrapped up in Jaipur, we looked forward to the last leg of our trip in Delhi. Our short Delhi trip comprised of two very emminent names- Sabyasachi and Sunita Shekhawat. As we entered the Sabyasachi Mehrauli boutique, the outside world ceased to exist, and we were beguiled by an array of elaborated chandliers, mirrors, vintage perfume bottles, deep red roses and some of India’s finest bridal wear and fine jewellery. While a few of the Russian ladies struggled to digest the weight of each dress, the others were ready to re-marry if they could wear the high couture. The jewellery room was immaculate with not just precious kundan polki work for the modern bride but the extreme attention to detail had been paid to the display and the decor was in a true Sabya style. The boutique also had beautiful jewellery boxes, lockers, bars cabinets and other leather accessories in collaboration with Trunks Company, Jaipur along with gorgeous wedding special shoes from Christian Louboutin.
The last and final stop before everyone departed was the Sunita Shekhawat Defence Colony boutique, where the charming Niharika Shekhawat took us through the jewellery collections. Colour by colour, she explained the importance of each colour and the expertise required to manufacture that colour perfectly every time. The reversible jewels were super fun as everyone was sure to get two for the price of one!
All in all… thank you Elena Vaselaya and all the wonderful ladies for this amazing trip and a lifetime of memories!
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