Fashion

Amrapali's silver linings jewelbook

more-in

At the launch of its exclusive store in Chennai, Rajesh Ajmera, Rajiv and Tarang Arora of Amrapali talk about how India continues to inspire their craft tradition.

It all starts with a postman’s knock on the door. Be it a diamond-studded earring or a ruby-rich neck piece for Hollywood divas like Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna or Hilary Swank — for every new order, a photograph of the design is taken, scanned and posted to the craftsmen in the small villages of Rajasthan. “Almost a month later, they come to us, and discuss their accounts; they tell us the amount of silver and gold they have used for each piece of jewellery and so on,” says Tarang Arora, who has taken up the onus of managing Amrapali Jewels from its founders — his father Rajiv Arora, and uncle Rajesh Ajmera — along with his wife, Akanksha Arora.

Dressed in a black crisp suit and trademark black square frame glasses, Tarang seems visibly excited about launching an exclusive store in the city, which he says has a “cosmopolitan clientele who are traditional yet fashion forward”. Chennai was the first city they ventured into in South India, and the brand has been displaying their collection at The Amethyst for a decade now. The new space stands on the posh Khader Nawaz Khan Road, below the new Amethyst Room.

Even as the red carpet is being rolled outside the entrance for the who’s who of the city, and trees are being lit up with small blobs of flashy lights, Tarang reminds us about the diligent families miles away who crafted the several kundan neck pieces, long silver chains and sapphire-embedded rings that hyphenate the black walls of the chic store. “My father (Rajiv) and uncle (Rajesh) started with just three craftsmen in 1978, and now there are 2,000. They are happy to preserve and restore the art that is slowly diminishing. In most families, even the next generation has taken to it, instead of going for white collar jobs in the cities, which is the norm these days,” says Tarang with a sense of pride.

There are a few who have been associated with the jewellery giant right from when Rajiv and Rajesh, graduates of Indian history and culture, started a small shop in Jaipur for silver jewellery. “We then set up a store in Mumbai in an upmarket area and people started noticing us. We also started travelling a lot and exhibiting abroad,” recalls the soft-spoken Rajesh. Word spread and soon they became almost synonymous with Indian luxe jewellery.

Now, they have 36 stores across the world, with three factories in Jaipur, and in other small towns of Himachal Pradesh and around Jaisalmer. Many a time, the craftsmen, busy inside their little cocoons, have visitors from abroad driving through the dusty narrow roads of the village — all just to see how they bring out such beauty in metal, says Rajiv. “Even now, they prefer sitting on the floor while working. We try to give them a better environment at work; we make sure that they have access to all the materials within the factory, and bring senior design artistes to teach young artistes the skills,” says Rajiv enthusiastically. “Though we don’t use any hazardous materials, we have an in-house doctor,” he says.

The concern is quite natural as majority of the pieces are still done by hand. The technique is something what clients from outside India also seek. “We feel strongly about utilising the skills of these people, rather than making them do something that is not their speciality. That is why our jewellery is deeply rooted in the rich tradition of India. Many a time, my friends show a near-to-original replica of Italian jewellery pieces, but why would you do that, when you have such beauty in Indian designs?” remarks Tarang.

A brief fashion show, with models adorned in Victorian and tribal pieces gives a glimpse of what desi creativity can look like. Indian contemporary dancers Madhuri and Mayuri Upadhya, dressed in bright red costumes and heavy neckpieces, compliment the ethnic factor, at the launch.

The USP of being a “true Indian brand” is probably what gave them opportunities from the world of Hollywood with movies such as Troy, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its more recent sequel. “They come seeking the Indian flavour that we have to offer. For example, in Troy, the pieces are very tribal. They wanted handmade jewellery with an earthy look, just like how they had in the Greek civilisation,” says Tarang, who is currently working on a collection called Ranthambore, which blends the tiger form with Indian architecture.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 14, 2018 9:53:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fashion/amrapalis-silver-linings-jewelbook/article7770173.ece

Next Story