My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India

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Every year I visit Mumbai numerous times for my work. Sometimes as a journalist or a blogger and at times as a consultant and even a jewelry stylist. Mumbai as a city offer unlimited opportunities for the jewelry industry. Therefore, this IIJS (India International Jewellery Show), I thought of doing a story on this wonderful city. The story has been published in the June-July 2018 issue of Indian Jeweller magazine. I hope you agree with my opinion as well as that of four leading jewelers who have contributed to my story.

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

My Mumbai StoryIJ Magazine June-July 2018People from various parts of the country come to Mumbai to make a living because it is unequivocally the city of dreams. Leading jewelers converse about this maximum city, a city that gave them a bounty of opportunities, a city that made their careers and allowed their businesses to flourish with Preeta Agarwal.

One city that holds a special place in the hearts of all jewelry professionals in Mumbai. The fashion capital of India is also the jewelry capital of India, not just because of the number of jewelers, manufacturers or exporters that are based in Mumbai but due to sheer love that this city has for jewelry.

Jaipur might rule the charts of being the first jewelry focused city of India, but Mumbai is like a magnet to anybody with business acumen – it is not a wonder why it is the hub of the Indian gems & jewelry industry. While there were always jewelers making and selling jewelry in Mumbai, it was in 1975, with the construction of the Panchratna building that the trade gained momentum. With a run of over 2 decades and due to the need for a larger, more secure space, BKC came into being which houses offices of various jewelry companies, and now India’s first-ever Diamond Bourse.

The GJEPC, our biggest association that promotes exports of jewelry is based out of Mumbai and also hosts India’s largest jewelry fair every year- IIJS that makes jewelers travel from nooks and corners of the world to Mumbai. Talking of retail, the best of Indian jewelers, right from the world-renowned Viren Bhagat to our very own social media diva Farah Khan, have set up their businesses in Mumbai. On the one hand, it has the old world charm of Zaveri Bazaar and on the other, it has its own jewelry high street in Bandra. Right from the ease of procurement of materials to outsourcing labor to even finding the right client, Mumbai as a city has played a very crucial role in the lives of many jewelers. I spoke to a few jewelers who have either been in Mumbai for generations or have relocated to Mumbai, to understand their connection of jewelry with the city and here’s what they had to say:

Biren Vaidya – Managing Director, Rose Group of Companies

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

 

Biren Vaidya – Managing Director, Rose Group of Companies

Why did you decide to set up your business in Mumbai?

I have been born and brought up in Mumbai all my life. There is honestly no other place I can imagine myself working in. Since I was the first generation in the business, I utilized my social connections to start out in the 
jewelry business initially going from door to door to sell jewelry, we then
went into wholesale of jewelry and then began the retail of jewelry with the launch of the Rose Salon in 2004.

Why is Mumbai so special for the jewelry industry?

Even though traditionally most artisans come from Bengal, Mumbai has always been the epicenter for buying and selling gemstones and thus by default, has become the center of the jewelry manufacturing industry. Being the commercial capital of the country, Mumbai has always been the hub of major businesses in India and thus, has a sizable retail market too. Therefore, Mumbai holds a unique place in the jewelry industry, as it is not just the manufacturing center but also the retail center of the industry.

How close-knit is the jewelry fraternity in Mumbai?

The Mumbai jewelry fraternity is largely formed of two major Indian communities –Gujaratis and Marwaris. Since these two communities have very similar social and cultural values, the fraternity is very close-knit.

With so many players concentrated in one city, the competition must be tough too?

The market is big and there is enough room for everybody as long as you are able to differentiate yourself enough through your designs and craftsmanship. Mumbai is a lovely
city to live and, work in, as it is very pro-business. So honestly, there are no complaints.

What is the one thing about Mumbai that attracts you the most?

It is a city that never sleeps. There is no city that can match Mumbai’s pace and energy!

Ashraf Motiwala- Director, A S Motiwala Fine Jewellery

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

 

Ashraf Motiwala – Managing Director, A S Motiwala Fine Jewellery

Why did you decide to set up your business in Mumbai?

We are one of the few legacy jewelers of Mumbai and are currently have our 5th generation running the business. Back in the days, my great-great-grandfather was a pearl dealer and used to come from Kutch to sell pearls in Mumbai. With his fame amongst the royal families and the British, he was fondly called ‘Motiwala’ and thus,  we got our surname. His son, my great grandfather saw the opportunities that this city provided and decided to relocate to Mumbai. I have been in Mumbai all my life! But for the family, my great grandfather and his brother relocated to Mumbai more than a century ago in 1905.

Why is Mumbai so special for the jewelry industry?

I personally feel that Mumbai is a very vibrant and dynamic city. Bollywood also plays a very important role in shaping the city’s distinct lifestyle that clearly reflects in the jewelry. Mumbai is open to design ideas and experiments and is open to taking risks. And, with so much money to spend, clients want to see new designs every time they walk in, literally keeping us on our toes!

How close-knit is the jewelry fraternity in Mumbai?

The people of the industry are quite close to each other. Whenever there are any new changes in laws/policies, the industry stands together to find a solution. Having the presence of associations and organizations like GJEPC also helps build newer bonds by giving us opportunities to meet, network and grow together.

With so many players concentrated in one city, the competition must be tough too?

Some competition is always healthy for everyone. One can differentiate by building a good range of designs, store ambiance and, service standards. But, yes some are selling lower quality goods, spoiling the market, but I guess one needs to pass the test of the time in order to build a loyal clientele and trust.

What is the one thing about Mumbai that attracts you the most?

“Work hard and party harder,” is a clear motto of this cosmopolitan, ever-volving city and people from all religions enjoy living here equally.

Anil Bharwani- Partner, Seth Sunderdas & Sons

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

Anil Bharwani- Partner, Seth Sunderdas & Sons

Why did you decide to set up your business in Mumbai?

I am not originally from Mumbai and I landed here in 1991 to do my gemmology course at the Gemmological Institute of India, which was at that time the only institute of its kind in India. Being the diamond and jewelry hub of India that offered a hoard of opportunities, I ended up staying here. Since I moved here, I have fallen in love with the city.

Why is Mumbai so special for the jewelry industry?

I truly appreciate the no-nonsense attitude towards work that Mumbai has, be it the dealers, traders, manufacturers, stockists, etc. Even the skilled artisans and goldsmiths working in Mumbai are hard-working and not lazy.

How close-knit is the jewelry fraternity in Mumbai?

It might look like a big industry from outside but for insiders, it is a small industry that is extremely close. I am still associated with most of my vendors and skilled artisans with whom I have been working for the last 25 plus years.

With so many players concentrated in one city, the competition must be tough too?

It’s like any other business. There is a lot of competition, both healthy and unhealthy but there is space for everyone.

What is the one thing about Mumbai that attracts you the most?

Only one song comes to my mind….“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan, Zara Hat Ke, Zara Bach Ke,Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan!”

Kishan Jagwani – Managing Director, Notandas Jewellers

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box
, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

 

Kishan Jagwani – Managing Director, Notandas Jewellers

Why did you decide to set up your business in Mumbai?

The reason I decided to set up my business here is that there is no match for Mumbai. It is the biggest market for the gold and diamond industries. I’ve been living in Mumbai ever since I was young. We’ve all lived in Mumbai for decades now.  I initially started this business in Zaveri Bazaar and once it was successful I decided to move ahead and start a flagship store in Bandra in 1983. I’ve been into this business for almost a century now.

Why is Mumbai so special for the jewelry industry?

The true essence is the welcoming atmosphere of this industry. The designs, the jewelry, and the services can be replicated but the vibe and energy can’t be. The industry is extremely welcoming and open to new ideas and proposals.

How close-knit is the jewelry fraternity in Mumbai?

The bond is indeed very intimate. We help one another wherever required while still maintaining our privacy. The key is to not foster bad blood between our relationships with other jewelers but build healthy friendships.

With so many players concentrated in one city, the competition must be tough too?

The nature of the competition is based solely on the jeweler’s perspective. According to me, competition should be considered healthy as it pushes you beyond your limits and helps you grow. Competition is one of the reasons why we are where we are today.

What is the one thing about Mumbai that attracts you the most?

Mumbai’s lavish and delicate diversity is what attracts me the most. People living here come from different cultures and backgrounds and it’s interesting how they learn to adapt to the culture here and keep up with Mumbai’s pace.

, My Mumbai- An ode to the jewellery capital of India, Victoria's Jewelry Box

IJ Magazine June-July 2018_ Cover Page