VOGUEshops- just like the seasoning, diamonds will always be a mainstay.
The Art of Jewellery
Unleashing Bangalore’s creative charm
Unleashing Bangalore’s creative charm
Discovering exclusivity with every piece
Being the daughter of already established jewellery designer Sushma chhajer, entering the field was quiet obvious for shruti. Accompanying her mother for various business meetings, she discovered her passion for designing at a very early age. Later after completing her masters in family business and entrepreneurship, she entered the business and thus the mother- daughter duo envisioned their brand ‘SHRUTI SUSHMA’.
Natural resources trigger her passion
“I am very much fascinated by the raw materials. Let it be any stone, the uniqueness in it attracts me. It makes me think over on how best I can try to make something really beautiful and exclusive out of it,” says Shruti Chhajer, a GIA graduate, who is seven years old in the industry.
Wearability is the key
Jewellery is something which people buy out of the wish to wear it and not to stock it. Hence wearability of every piece is what Shruti feels is the most important thing which she keeps in mind while designing every piece.
Exploring the hidden
Each and every thing around us has a hidden uniqueness to it and it is this factor that inspires this designer. She tries to discover the distinctive feature in everything and tries to create exclusive jewellery pieces that customers can cherish for lifetime. “Uniqueness makes a piece special and eye-catching amongst others. A style icon like Sonam Kapoor noticing us was like a recognition for the hard work we put in to make something distinct,” adds Shruti beaming with pride.
Shruti Sushma is a known brand in Ahmedabad where they have a boutique of their own at Courtyard by Marriott. In Bangalore, as of now they entertain customers only by appointment and soon are planning to open a store in the city in the near future.
GOING BY INSTINCT
GOING BY INSTINCT
We met Shruti and Sushma Chhajer, the women behind the eponymous, exclusive jewellery brand. Shruti Sushma in Ahmedabad and came away basking in the warmth of love emanating from the mother-daughter team.
GOING BY INSTINCT
The first thing strikes you about this eminently talented mother-daughter jewellery designer duo is just how comfortable they are around each other; a detail that ties in nicely with the fact that (and perhaps underscores why) their filial bond has run over from the sphere of domesticity to include their chosen professional sphere as well. Treating each other’s ideas with the respect that they deserve, the Chhajer women have come to run what is increasingly being seen as one of Ahmedabad most exclusive and personalized jewellery designing and crafting studios. With a client-base studded with names of major industrialists from across the country and several NRIs from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the US, the duo’s reputation is clearly soaring.
However, the world of glamour and fashion sesmed a far cry for Sushma when, as a young bride hailing from Uttar Pradesh, she first made her way to Ahmedabad. “A graduate from a Hindi-medium college, I had no formal training in fashion or jewellery designing. What I did have, however , was a passion to learn – near insatiable-and an instinct for what felt and looked right. I’ve been very lucky that my husband Ashok, who saw this yen do something in me supported me whole-heartedly and asked me to think and dream big.
“I TRUST MY MOTHER’S GUT FEELING ON THESE MATTERS UNQUESTIONABLY.”
He’s been my pillar of strength from day one, and it is to him that I owe whatever I’ve achieved today. Right from the beginning he always maintained that there was no room for half way measures – he insisted that I attend all the major and prestigious jewellery fairs in the world and observe and learn from the best that there is out there, she offers.
This instinct for fashion led Sushma to open in partnership with the famous designer duo Mona Pali, their first outlet in Ahmedabad. An instant hit with the then fashion starved local populace, their stone quickly became the last word in the city for all things bridal and trousseau related. “Even so, my clients kept asking me why we couldn’t help with accessories and jewellery too, alongside their clothing. They would bring options for me to go over, and I’d help them pick out what went best with their outfits. That’s when I realized there was a solid lack of contemporary jewellery designs available for customers in the city. Therefore, making the decision to take the plunge, I decided to design and craft some three or four small pieces in 1996. I managed to sell them all and quickly!. Thus was born what was to later become, when my daughter decided to join me, the brand Shruti Sushma.” Says the doting mother.
And what anout Shruti? Did the multi – faceted 22 yar old know from the beginning that this is what she wanted to do as well?. I was in grade 11 when the design bug bit me. I knew that I would one day join my mother. However, I interned with my father (Ashok Chhajer), who is an industrialist, while still in school, and apart from my degree from the Gemological Institute of America, I also have an MBA to fall back on – the business strain runs strong in my Marwari blood,” she laughs.
At home with play:-
Apart from her training in business and jewellery designing, Shruti has very keen eye for photography. Her training in design helps her play with texture, she says, and it is this keen aesthetic that has seen her photograph most of the piece she and her mother have crafted before they leave the store. “I like playing with light perspective, and use the most unlikely props – whatever I can find lyi around, really – to bring out the lines and depth of the piece at hand”, she says.
For Sushma, the driving force behind the enterprise, life away from the studio is dictated mainly by her passion for interior designing – she’s doing up their new home at the moment – and reading about tarot reading, numerology and the mysteries of the cosmos. “I’ve always been someone who goes with my gut-instinct; be it in business deals or personal matters. I have an unshakeable faith in the fact that if you’re a good person, the world will be fair to you and your undertaking will meet with success, however you choose to define the word. It is this interest in matters other-wordly’ if you l that sees me constantly stuck with my nose buried deep inside some book or the other,” she says.
Another thing the ladies love to do, together for the mo part, is traveling. “In our search for precious stones from the world over-emeralds from Columbia, rubies from Burma or diamonds from Antwerp, for example – we travel a lot, which is just fine by us!. The fact that we’re together makes it that much more fun, because we truly enjoy each other’s company,” Says Shruti.
Who’s the boss here? Hard to tell. As mentioned earlier what underscores this particular partnership is the total and complete respect both mother and daughter accord the ideas/talent/skills of each other. Theirs is an equal and equitable collaboration in every sense of the term. “There’s something of each of us in every piece of jewellery we turn out. Even if the core idea is either mom’s or mine, we’re constantly consulting each other and giving ideas or feedback on each item even while the process of crafting and forging is underway,” Says Shruti.
However, she quickly adds, when it comes to actually selling the end product, it is her mother’s unerring instinct to match clients and pieces of jewellery that she falls back on.
“Unless a piece is specifically commissioned by a client, I know even as we’re designing and making it, who we want to sell it to”, says Sushma, adding, there have been times when I’ve been in touch with a client, to show them something I think is right for them, and even if they aren’t immediately sold on the idea, they inevitably come back to us a little later, asking for the same piece”.
“I trust my mother’s gut feeling on these matters unquestionably. In fact, I have so much faith in her astuteness that we often joke about how, when the time comes, I think she’ll do a better job of choosing someone for me to be with than I can possibly hope to do myself”. Says Shruti, with an enigmatic smile.
RISE AND SHINE
RISE AND SHINE
We may love our diamond but never know their actual worth. Shruti Chhajer tells Anurita Rathore how you can understand your best friend better.
Very recently I was out happily shopping for a diamond bracelet. My concern were clearly pronounced: chic design, not too flashy and diamonds that are a class apart. Carat and cut I wasn’t well educated on.., not many are, I assumed But then, the look is not all that’s important. I learnt in those few minutes. It was important to know your diamonds, its kind type and most importantly, the fact that what you end up owning is indeed, a diamond.
Yes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And life’s better when you know your friend well and so, knowing the four Cs of diamonds is imperative to know what you have and possess. Shruti Chhajer, a graduate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) helps us know the white stone better. “Of the various characteristics of diamond industry, the four Cs to look out for are Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight. These are criterias jewelers consider when grading diamonds but when you go out to buy one for yourself, there’s a fifth C to look out for: Certificate. Something that substantiates what you own, “Says Shruti;
Cit is probably the most important and most challenging, of the four Cs to understand. Cut actually refers to two aspects of a diamond. The first is its shape (round, marquise, etc) the second is how well the cutting has been executed, of the 4 Cs, the cut is the only characteristic directly influenced by main (i.e. the cutter or manufacturer of the stone). The other three Cs are dictated by nature alone.
A diamond’s cut will most certainly influence its fire (the lovely rainbow colours that flash from within) and brilliance (the liveliness and sparkle) as well as its perceived size and even, to some degree its apparent colour. Different cuts reflect light in different angles. A diamond must be cut of a diamond should not be confused with its shape. They are cut into various shapes depending upon the original from of the uncut rough diamond. Whatever the shape, a well-cut diamond is better able to reflect light. People often confuse cut with the shape of a diamond when its brilliance actually depends heavily on its cut.
The best colour is no colour Diamonds allow light to be reflected and dispersed as a rainbow of colour. This light dispersion, or colour flash, has no effect on the technical grading of colour. The absolute finest colourless stone carries a D rating , descending through each letter of the alphabet to Z, designating a diamond of light yellow, brown or grey. This body colour may be caused by the presence of trace elements, such as nitrogen, within the atomic framework of the carbon crystal.
When directly comparing diamonds for colour, most people are unable to detect a difference unless they are at least two or three colour grades apart. Laboratories give different labels and values to colours. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will start at the “D” of the alphabet ending with “Z”. “D” being colourless and “Z” being a fancy yellow’. The Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD) follows the grading system from ‘exceptional white+’ down to tinted colour. Many other laboratories like international Gemological Institute (IGI) follow basically both these guidelines.
The clarity grade is the degree to which the diamond is free of inclusions and blemishes. Nature produces very few things that are absolutely perfect. Most diamonds have internal birthmarks, known as inclusions and external characteristics called blemishes. These clarity characteristics are evaluated under 10 X magnification, by trained diamond greaders, based on the number, nature, size, location and colour of each characteristics. Clarity characteristics are also used to distinguish one diamond from another. A diamond’s inclusions are like a fingerprint, making each diamonds one of a kind. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and command the highest prices, but finding a diamond with minute inclusions can reduce the cost of the stone without detracting from its beauty or durability. There are five categories in class that anyone interested in purchasing a diamond should be aware of when grading clarity (See table below)
Flawless – Internally Flawless
Very Very Slightly Imperfect.
Very Slightly Imperfect.
|1 |2 |3
Diamonds are weighted on a scale of metric carats, abbreviated’ ct’. It is equal to approximately 1/5 of a gram. A Carat is broken down into 100 cents, When you see a diamond weight of 1.45 ct, it means one carat and 45 cents. The larger a diamonds is the more rare it is diamonds are bought and sold on a pricing concept known as ‘per carat’. As diamonds get larger, the price per carat increase due to the rarity factor, so a diamond that weights 2 Ct will be worth more than twice as much as a 1ct diamond.
Now, this one’s importance for you . A certificate is a blueprint of a diamond; it tells you the diamond’s exact measurements and weight, as well as the details of its cut and quality. It precisely points out all the individual characteristics of the stone. Certificates also serve as proof of the diamond’s identify and value. A certificate is not the same thing as an appraisal. It, in fact, describes the quality of a diamond, but does not place a monetary value on the gem. An appraisal places a monetary value on your diamond, but does not certify the quality of the diamond.
Who exactly issues these certificates?. There are many diamond labs that issue certificate; Hoge Raad voor diamante (HRD)., The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Institute (IGI) and the American Gem Society (AGS) are the most widely regarded and recognized diamond grading labs in the world.
MYTHS ABOUT DIAMONDS:-
Like with everything else, there are several myths surrounding diamonds. And the more people believe in them, the more confusion it is bound to generate.
- A common, myth surrounding diamond is that they are rare.
“In fact they are not” says Shruti”. It is emeralds and rubies that are more rare than diamonds and often more expensive!.
- Diamonds are also understood to be the most expensive gemstone. This too, is a myth!.
“Many emeralds and rubies are much more expensive per carat weight than diamond are.
- People tend to believe that a larger diamond is always worth more than a smaller one.
“Well, the size of a diamond is only one of the methods whereby the value of a diamond is assessed. The colour clarity, weight and other factors all play an important part. A high quality smaller diamond can be worth much more, even thousands more, than a poorer larger diamond, explains Shruti.
- Another interesting myth is that considering diamonds are made from the hardest material known to man, they are tough and will last forever. “Like anything else, they last provided proper care is taken. Diamonds can chip and fracture and get cracks and scratches as well.
- It is also believed that diamonds are more difficult to cut than other stones. “The cut of a diamonds depends on the original shape. Usually it will be cut to preserve most of the diamond without too much ‘waste’. And last but not the least, contrary to belief that an emerald – cut diamonds is the most expensive to cut, it isn’t it is fact, the least expensive shape to cut. “SHRUTI INFORMS”.
– Shruti Chhajer runs
Jewellery studio Shruti Sushma
BEJEWELLED BY DESIGNERS. – Shruti Sushma
BEJEWELLED BY DESIGNERS. – Shruti Sushma
Exclusivity is the mantra of Gen Y, and studios showcasing designer jewellery are in demand. Doesn’t every bride want to look different from the rest of the pack? We present three whose businesses are booming this season. A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) one of the foremost authorities on diamonds grading and gemology. Shruti Chhajer got her diploma form the National Institute of Jewellery Design before joining her mother’s jewellery studio. Says Chhajer. “My Mother Sushma, came to Ahmedabad from Kolkata with my father. While running a boutique in the city, she was often asked for device by her clients on the jewellery to go with the dresses they were buying. She gained knowledge and began to see how jewellery was perceived, and this prompted her to start out in the jewellery business.”
Shruti says Sushma is a very determined woman who is ready to take on all odds. She had a strong textile background, but little knowledge of jewellery and its technical aspects. So she went about learning about jewellery from experts and reading books on the subjects. “My father, who is very encouraging, went with her to jewellery fairs in Hong Kong and other countries so she could get an insight into the industry” Says Shruti. By 2000, she had started out in the jewellery business with five or six sample pieces. The business was on the road.”
Shruti, on the other hand, decided to study gemology, especially diamond grading, and jewellery design. She also armed herself with an MBA from Ahmedabad’s Nirma Institute, all to bring technical and design expertise to the business started by her mother.
The duo uses high-end Burmese rubies, Columbian emeralds, South Sea pearls, sapphires and other precious stones in their jewellery. Speaking on the designs, Sushma says, “We are both perfectionists. The design for the pieces we create for stock is generally inspired by the precious stones we procure, especially the colourful ones. And when we got good stones that compliment each other in colour and pattern, the design is created to make them look good and go together. “Each piece can take months to make, as they keep working on detailing, till they feel it can’t be improved upon. Then they show it to a client. We advise the client about the jewellery from our stock Says Sushma. Shruti says for bespoke bridal jewellery, they not only ask the prospective bride about the dress she will be wearing but also design the piece to compliment her physical features.
“Because of my technical qualifications, I can actually give my clients proper information about gems and jewellery.” Says Shruti, adding. This combination of technical knowledge about gems and jewellery, good design and superb finishing are at the heart of the Shruti Sushma brand. As jewellery is a very expensive item and can account for s sizable percentage of the expense of a wedding, clients want to know what they are getting, Indeed, trust is the foundation of our business that has seen it grow.
Currently, the duo work out of their office-cum-studio at CG Road, but they have an exclusive studio coming up at Silaj.
What are the plans in the offing? “International fine art auctions are a dream that we want to make happen one day” Says Shruti.
JEWELLERY FOR A QUEEN
JEWELLERY FOR A QUEEN
Shruti and Sushma Chhajer, Jewellery designers
Jewellery isn’t just an adornment for special occasions anymore. Jewellery extends to items that hold memories and stories and become heirlooms. Many young brides also want to own jewellery which reflects their taste and personality. Turning such dreams into reality is mother – daughter duo Sushma and Shruti. One of their recent creations belonged was for the jewellery trousseau of Sheel Patel Shah, who happens to be from one of the oldest families of Ahmedabad. The materials used were emeralds, rose-cut diamonds, round and fancy brilliant diamonds, golden south sea pearls and 18k gold.
“When it comes to designing jewellery for a bride like this, budgets do not matter. It is obvious that the bride wants something totally extraordinary and in this case the bride had specifically told us that she did not want the typical stuffy chokers, or jadau and diamonds sets” Says Shruti.
The statement piece, made-to-order for this bride, was subtle yet stunning. The bride outfit was a Benarasi ghagra and the neckless had several emeralds. The earning were 2.5 inches long, but comfortable enough to be worn for the long hours of the ceremony. The duo also created a maang tikka and chhooda for the bride.
We had thought over everything and put it together carefully. It isn’t a challenge to create jewellery but it becomes one when you want to recreate the kind of jewellery that the bride dreams of wearing and may be even create something she hadn’t thought of.
ADDING A SPARKLE TO YOUR LIFE
ADDING A SPARKLE TO YOUR LIFE
That’s what jewellery designer duo Sushma and Shruti do for a living. This mother-daughter team designs customized pieces that their clients cant’s seem to get enough of.
She talks about colour, clarity and carat in one breath and isn’t at all dazzled by the glitter that surrounds her. All of 22, this young girl has made a name for herself as a jewellery designer with a difference. We are talking about Shruti Chhajer whose clientele ranks among the who’s who of the city.
Shruti was only 17 when she was introduced to the world of designing precious stone – studied jewellery. My father in into bulk packaging material – a totally different business to ours. But even though I spent some time trying to understand his business. I was drawn into jewellery designing, which was really my mother’s hobby. Finally as my interest grew and I decided to take the plunge, my mother made sure I had the qualification for it.
This promoted her to do a course at the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America), get an MBA from Nirma University and complete a jewellery designing course from the National Institute of Jewellery Design.
Says Sushma, “I always had a desire to design jewellery and while I got all the encouragement I needed from my family. I somehow could not start off on my own. And so, to get that professional approach to business, I made sure that Shruti received all the backing that was require “ All this has given Shruti to mas produce a particular design is tough”.
Her varied clientele speaks a lot about the popularity of her creative designs. “One of my favourite clients is an Arab sheikh who is crazy about diamond and precious stone-studded cufflinks in gold. We must have sold him a hundred pieces till now, but he keeps coming back for more. We also have a client who buys two pieces of the same kind: for herself and her daughter, “smiles Shruti”
And if you thought women were only concerned with a good looking ornaments, you thought wrong. According to Shruti there is a high level of awarness among customers today. Things are different now. I have customers who recognize the various cuts of a stone and even know details about its place of origin and things like that.
Both Shruti and her mother Sushma are involved with each and every design. Such is their camaraderie that they usually end up talking shop even on the breakfast table. My husband gets so bored when we start talking about designs that he is tempted to jump into the conversation with his creative inputs, which we both tell him not to do, Says Sushma.
Both of them love to travel a lot and make it a point to visit jewellery shows and exhibitions around the world. “It is interesting as we get to see design standards across the world: as such we know where we stand. Also it is creativity stimulating to see what the world designers are coming up with”. What next? “We want to be seen at Christie’s echo both of them in union”. We want to go far and be recognized at places where it matters. So let’s see….” Says Shruti keeping her fingers crossed.
The Sellers are smart; they know if the buyer is aware of and has an eye for the best. Then again, I am a GIA certified and that shows, I guess’ Shruti.
“I have to create something that doesn’t just adorn a women but which speaks for her”
Confidence and it’s evident in the way she describes every stone that has gone into her designs. “My work begins with procuring the perfect stones and it is only after I get them – whether diamonds, emeralds or rubies – that I can think up a design. Sometimes it takes a year to complete one necklace because one has to look for that perfect cut and brilliance in stone before placing them in”.
Shruti is most passionate about her designs and is well aware of the high expectations of her clients. “Women are very finicky about what they were and wish to have a piece of jewellery that is exclusive. As a designer I need to understand their mind and what it is they are looking for. I have clients who come to me with an idea of something they have seen in some store. That is where my job starts. I have to create something that doesn’t just adorn them but which speaks for them. Also as a designer I feel the need to help them break old mindsets. For example many women think wearing too much jewellery or a heavy piece laden with stones is what looks best. We try and convince them to consider also the elegance of a piece of jewellery.
Shruti is also involved in the purchasing and acquiring of gems that she uses. And it is for this purpose that she travels frequently to trade and jewellery shows across the world isn’t though for a 22 year old to negotiate with the sellers of precious stone? “I m taken seriously even though I am only 22.” Laugh Shruti adding. “The sellers are smart; they know if the buyer is aware of and has an eye for the best. Then again, I jeweler and that shows, I guess.”
The brand Shruti Sushma believed in providing the best and most unusual designs for its exclusive clients. “Each design is well thought out. And I strongly believe that no matter how good the gems may be, if you don’t pay attention to the finishing, everything is lost. So I go through each of my designs five times before clearing them.”
Shruti also faces the problem of replicating her designs. “ As most of the designs involve relatively larger sizes of gems – which may vary in colour, cut and brilliance – for us.
DNA – AFTERHRS – SUNDAY
QUEENS OF ALL THEY SURVEY
QUEENS OF ALL THEY SURVEY
SUSHMA AND SHRUTI CHHAJER
(Mother – Daughter duo who own jewellery brand Shruti Sushma)
Describe yourself as a woman entrepreneur:-
Sushma:- I believe in investing in my dreams, Hard work, passion and determination is what keeps me going.
Describe the products you deal in:-
Shruti:- We sell our own brand of fine jewellery to a niche clientale through our studio . The brand Shruti Sushma is indigenous to its to its own production house and finishing units. Our focus is on unique design, exclusivity, customization and strong quality control. The diamonds, pearls and other precious stones used in our jewellery are sourced from all over the world and are personally hand-picked by us.
When did you start this venture?
Sushma: Back in 1998.
What has been your inspiration?
Sushma:- My husband has been by biggest support and has always encouraged me. I always wanted my jewellery to be worn and not ke kept in vaults. I can visualize a piece of jewellery not just on paper but also on a lady’s neck and ears. I consider this God’s gift.
Shruti :- My mom (Sushma) always said, “If you want to make it big you have to start early”. After I came back from Mayo College (Ajmer), I took up a three year diploma course in Graduate Diamond from GIA and also did a jewellery design course. I think it is important to know what you are selling.
What type of clientele do you cater do?
Sushma:- Our clients come from business families living not only in India bit also in countries like UAE, Qatar and the USA. I believe that quality does not come without a price. We do not believe in mass production as we feel that in rules the very essence of creation. Finally, we want our clients to feel product of the jewellery they are wearing.
What is the USP of your product?
Sushma:- Design uniqueness and quality.
Did you face competition?
Shruti:- I feel that every entrepreneur has his/her place in the market as long he/she has a specific goal. If a person appreciates the uniqueness of a piece of jewellery, the competition ends there as that customer would look no further and buy the product.
How difficult was it for you to make a mark in a male dominated society?
Sushma:- Now a days, It’s not that difficult because women are making a mark in every field. Gone are the days when women were not taken seriously.
Any future plans?
Shruti:- We have another studio coming up soon. We are also planning a private showing by the end of this year.