Wearing a royal look


In June 2011, the International Indian Film Academy, IIFA, awards weekend, held in Toronto, was a breathtaking showcase of India’s leading women jewellery designers. As the stars walked the red carpet and displayed designer sarees and ensembles teamed with opulent jewellery, Bollywood patrons across cultures and nationalities gaped in wonder at the beauty of the stars and the dazzle of India’s fabulous gem and jewellery business. Many stars —  Priyanka Chopra and Minisha Lamba — hit the headlines not only for their appearance on the red carpet but also for carrying jewellery worth lakhs of rupees without declaring it at customs checks.

However, stories of stars carrying jewellery worth lakhs of rupees died soon and what remained was the awe with which Indian jewellery and its royal splendour was appreciated by the star-crazy millions across the globe.

Among the prominent designers of jewellery whose work were on display on the red carpet were Farah Khan Ali, daughter of the renowned Bollywood family of Sanjay Khan, and now one of India’s celebrity jewellery experts. Farah’s unique designs proved that the brand essence of jewellery today is to reflect the modern woman – feminine but very strong. With her jewellery stealing the limelight, Farah became one of the most favoured jewellery designers for Bollywood stars with her brand Farah Khan Fine Jewellery. “I could not tell a ruby from an emerald,” she says, “By chance, I decided to go along with a friend who was doing a course in gemology in the USA. I ended up studying the business and then decided to make it my career.” With her present position in Bollywood, Farah is the preferred designer of the celebrity world.

Neelam Kothari is yet another successful celebrity jewellery designer. She joined her family’s business when she voluntarily retired from acting. “I find this business challenging,” she says, “And I am fortunate to know it because of my family background.

Every year, I show my designs to Bollywood stars and celebrity families – especially during the wedding seasons. I am happy that my jewellery business is as successful as my film career!” Today, Neelam has a Mumbai showroom and client meetings when special occasions like the IIFA awards come around. With her fame now, few know that her grandfather, Tarachand Kothari, was one of the first jewellers to travel to and fro between Mumbai and Paris, exporting jewellery to  Europe. “We now trade with the world from Mumbai and Bangkok. I even speak a smattering of Thai language,”she says.

Priti Patel of Aadya Jewellery caters to Bollywood largely. She specialises in contemporary jewellery with a touch of India’s famous ‘royal’ treasures worn by royal families. Coloured stones like the famous Burma rubies and Kenyan emeralds are her passion and according to the client’s taste and liking, she offers the best in chandelier earrings, rings and bracelets. The unique feature of Priti’s designs is that she combines coloured precious stones with cut and uncut diamonds in such a manner that the final design is breathtaking. Each festive season, Priti offers a superb collection of rings, dangling earrings and bracelets to her celebrity clientele.

Perhaps the senior-most among celebrity jewellery makers of India is Poonam Soni, who started in a small way in the Fort area of the metro city. Growing from there, she is now the proud designer for an enviable clientele spread across several countries. Her shows are popular among “visiting NRIs who plan grand weddings and parties in the international circuit, and film stars” who wear her exclusive pieces on special occasions.

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