Asha Kamal Modi convinced Indian women that gold-coated silver jewellery was as good as the real thing.

One woman's belief that there was more to Indian jewellery than the glitter of gold, resulted in a new wave of accessorising in the country. And time and again she allows you a peek into her world. Asha Kamal Modi was a revolutionary in the jewellery business via “Art Karat” — she initiated the use of silver as her base metal, gave it a gold coat and made masterpieces that measured up to gold in all its magnificence.

Started in 1988, “Art Karat” was a completely new concept at the time, “It was initially very difficult. Silver had so much potential, which the people could not see,” says Asha who was in the city to showcase her latest collection, “Paheli”. Her jewellery is based on silver and studded with only precious and semi-precious stones, thus allowing each of her distinct pieces to command the same respect as gold.

As a people we have enjoyed jewellery for centuries and jewellery is an integral part of our culture, gods, goddesses, kings and queens included. “Our problem was that we thought that jewellery could only be gold and diamonds,” explains this gemologist.

Going on her own

Coming from a family where women did nothing except cook and clean, “glorified ayahs” as she puts it, starting a business was a huge step for her. “I have always been very fond of jewellery and was exposed to a lot of different jewellery from a very young age.” Art Karat was an entirely independent venture that Asha funded on her own.

“I did not want to take any money from my husband or anybody else, not because I had any ego issues; I just wanted it to be my independent project,” she says.

When she started out, Art Karat made very western and contemporary pieces, but over the years she has experimented with several styles and the “Paheli” collection showcases a range of Rajasthan folk jewellery.

The collection derives its name from the Bollywood movie, which inspired her to make this collection.

Art Karat has come a long way, from a time when Asha would have to explain individually to every client about her product and condition the Indian affinity to gold to now, when they have a very strong market both nationally and internationally.

“Everyone selects their calling according to their desires, this was mine,” says Asha.

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