Nandita Jhaveri's art of baubles
Nandita Jhaveri's jewellery is quite popular with gallerists, especially the two she grew up with: sisters Amrita and Priya of Jhaveri Contemporary
You're most likely to have seen Nandita Jhaveri's jewellery on a woman you admire from a distance. A woman who has the bearing of a queen and the smile of a commoner, who wears expensive threads lightly, who makes the ordinary look graceful. In short, a woman like Jhaveri herself.
"Most of my clients enjoy jewellery and fashion," says Jhaveri. "That said, along with the funky women, I have some very traditional women wearing my jewellery. So, it's hard for me to narrow [my target audience] down. But, most of the women who enjoy my jewellery are women like me. They want to be comfortable, they want to be stylish and they like to express themselves through their clothes and jewellery."
Jhaveri's training in her field, spotting diamonds in the rough, began right from the cradle. Her parents, Sheila and Dinesh Jhaveri, were jewellers, and the Jhaveri sisters - Amrita, Nandita and Priya - inherited a great eye from their parents. "We've all received it, to some extent, through osmosis," she says.
"My father was a real aesthete. At home, he was collecting everything from contemporary art to tribal masks to antique sculptures and artefacts. My parents would go to Chor Bazaar all the time, and our home had many beautiful things. It's now, as adults, when we look back that we realise how much that's influenced our choices growing up." While Amrita and Priya co-own the art gallery Jhaveri Contemporary in Colaba, Nandita is the Bennet sister you don't hear much of. "The art world is hard work.
It's a lot of hours and openings, fairs and events," she says. "And I'm in my worn-out pyjamas, watching Netflix with my husband by 7.30 pm. My business could have been bigger, had I been more proactive about cultivating people, but it's not something I choose to do." Jhaveri, in fact, has never courted the media, celebrities or influencers. "I don't really like that whole culture. I don't think people should make choices based on what Deepika Padukone is wearing. They should buy what is right for their personality. They have to figure that out for themselves."
Jhaveri's collection includes a mix of this and that: pendants from Jaipur, beads from Bangkok and silver plating from her goldsmiths in Mumbai. Her speciality is in stringing them together to create neckpieces, earrings and bracelets. She combines kundan, uncut diamonds, gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones to create statement pieces. Like Rose's Heart of the Ocean on Titanic, one of her necklaces is all the adornment a lady needs. "My earlier designs mostly involved making things out of found pieces. I would play with them to make them a little bit more interesting, or combine modern elements with traditional pieces."
Nandita Jhaveri. Pic/Atul Kamble
Her Napean Sea Road house is her showroom, and a stately cabinet, which she picked up in Chor Bazaar, is her showcase. "It's a highly personalised business. When you have clients who come to you through people, there's already one screening done. Almost everybody who walks through the door buys something. It's not a random connection. It's usually somebody who has seen my jewellery on somebody else, liked it [and come to me]. In a sense, it's no different from a very old-fashioned business, where what you're really selling is yourself. It's all about your contacts, your aesthetics."
Priced from Rs 10,000-Rs 1,50,000, she admits, "My jewellery isn't safe-worthy. It's easy to reach for when you go out to dinner." In fact, after she posted one of her pieces on Instagram, a client rang to ask the price, and later said, "It's beautiful, but it's too cheap." Her regulars include those who appraise art for a living, such as Mallika Sagar, auctioneer at Pundole's, Shireen Gandhy, owner of Gallery Chemould, and Sree Goswami, director at Project 88.
"It accidentally is because of my sisters. Both my sisters have worn my jewellery and it's been appreciated by their colleagues. I like the jewellery the gallerists buy from me. It represents my style quite well."
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