On a quiet afternoon, a lady strolled into the Bandra store of Razwada Jewels. Taken by the regal, rich designs, she returned that same evening with her daughter who was soon to be a bride. This bride was none other than Genelia Deshmukh.
Jitendra Sirohiya says, "The jewellery looks rich and stands out. If you see, these days, most brides want to wear Jadau." Their location in Bandra might draw people in, but it is the alluring designs that have been mastered by his family over the last hundred years. "Our roots are in Bikaner and Jaipur where Jadau was pre-dominant centuries ago. You can see the royalty wearing these pieces in most paintings," he says, as he puts a two hundred year old neckpiece into a box. "You can't call it a new fashion. It’s just that people are discovering it in other parts of the country now."
In 1992, Sirohiya moved to Mumbai to set up shop. "I started as a wholesaler, supplying to most leading jewellers in the city. People were aware of Jadau work but didn’t wear it back then. Many showrooms were keen on displaying it but didn't find the right artisans. So, I started giving them pieces to resell. But I always wanted to open my own showroom."
That dream came true about two years ago when Razwada Jewels opened shop in Bandra. "Being in the business for nearly 20 years helped me understand the market before I started on my own." Choosing the right location played a huge role in the success of the establishment, but what has helped is that the modern bride wants to wear exclusive jewellery that makes her stand apart. And at Razwada, every customer's needs are understood before we show them the pieces. "We first identify what their occasion is. If it is a simpler occasion we suggest they go for a subtle piece. Also, it depends on the shape of the person's face, the colour of their outfit and the work on the outfit. So, just as a groom is found after careful inspection for a bride, we go about finding the right piece."
Thanks to his twenty years in the industry Sirohiya claims that he can find the perfect piece for a customer in a matter of seconds. "Even Genelia followed our tips to the tee. The pieces we sold her were in accordance to her looks, the events and the family she was about to be married into."
While the Genelia-Riteish wedding was his first Bollywood wedding, he has top business families in his client list. "The nature of our business is such that we need to understand the customers thoroughly before selling to them. We have to be in the showroom, to attend to sales and enquiries. Most people come back because of the personal attention we give them. They trust me to give them excellent quality jewellery that will get them compliments." He believes that the most important aspect of his business is customer relations. "The reputation and the personal touch that a jeweller has is something a brand can never offer," says he.
That is the reason why he spends each day from morning until shutter down, at the store. "I am passionate about people. I don't forget customers after a sale. We have become one with our customers. Earlier, we were in the wholesale business and didn't interact with people. The business was good, but the satisfaction we got from our business within two years, we didn't get in twenty years as wholesalers."
The fact that his family has had customers through generations makes it hardly surprising that Sirohiya treats them as family. "In our Bikaner showroom, people don't even ask us to justify the price. They just buy with full trust. That is how it should be."
While he sells Jadau and Polki jewellery, he also stocks contemporary designs. He believes that what is contemporary today can become a classic design in a few years' time. Jadau jewellery is generally apt for a traditional Indian wedding, they can't be classified as daily wear. "While Jadau is perfect for weddings, we have to make something for working women. Besides, Jadau is expensive, so making what we call 9-5 jewellery is necessary to cater to the everyday needs of our customers." Even though his is a store known for wedding adornments where prices start at Rs4 Lakh, he proudly says the service he provides makes his clients come back to him with demands for regular designs too.
When asked to define typical Jadau pieces, Sirohiya says, "The grandeur you get from a Jadau piece will be much more than the grandeur of a diamond set worth one crore even! The look of Jadau is that different." Made with uncut diamonds, pearls and gemstones, Jadau pieces are worth their price. Also, the making charges for these pieces tends to be higher than usual.
Considering Indians buy jewellery as an investment, will buying Jadau be a risky bet? "People earlier used to think that there is no resale value for Jadau and Kundan jewellery. We ourselves give you 85% of the prevailing value of the jewellery. Of course, in the past you couldn't get good value for it, which is why people stayed away from Jadau. Now with technology, one can value the pieces accurately."
"Customers want details about the quality of the gold, the gems and their weight and, unlike the old days where you bought a piece for a certain price. So, people know the value of what they buy, and they can sell accordingly. It is just like an investment," Sirohiya clarifies.
For generations, artisans have been working for them in Bikaner where the pieces get assembled before it’s brought to Mumbai. "We have nearly 300 people still working with us in Bikaner!"
The shop also hosts quite a few antique pieces. "The valuation process for these is totally different. Something that might be worth Rs10 Lakh and is about a hundred years old, can fetch nearly a crore today. It will have very different aesthetics that reflects influences of those times, which make it priceless."
However, in Sirohiya's opinion, it takes a good Johri, a person who values gemstones, to ascertain a timeless piece. As for pieces made today, Sihroiya gives a written confirmation of the value of the piece. For Sirohiya, the basis of his business has been trust for generations. "When we write the details of a piece we sell, the customer trusts us. And we try to live up to that trust."
On a parting note, when asked if he plans to open more outlets, he says, “Rather than opening a new outlet, I’d put more effort on this one. Because meeting and selling to customers is what drives me. When they buy jewellery from us, they’re not just buying gold and diamonds. they’re buying art.”