Can you fathom, in these violent times, a man selling solid gold ornaments on the footpath? This is precisely how the 179-year-old legacy, PN Gadgil Jewellers, was born in 1832. For a good nine months, Ganesh Narayan Gadgil sold gold ornaments for women on the footpath in Sangli.
As business grew, Ganesh later managed to construct a shade to protect him from the heat and rain, and with further progress, this space turned into a shop. The Gadgils prospered and Ganesh's grandson Narayan took over the business. Narayan had three sons, Purushottam, Ganesh and Vasudev. When his sons came of age, Narayan told his eldest son that going forward, the venture must be named after him, as he believed his name was blessed and would ensure success. This was how the endeavour came to be known as PN Gadgil Jewellers, drawing its name from Purushottam Narayan Gadgil.
Of the three brothers, Purushottam was blessed with three daughters, Ganesh with three sons and Vasudev with four sons. It was the next-generation sons, who further propagated the business, bringing it to Pune. One of Ganesh's sons was Anant Gadgil. Anant, who was born in a farm on September 11, 1915 while the family sought refuge there to escape the plague that year, had worked in the Gadgils' shop in Sangli for 20 long years.
In 1958, Anant decided to take PN Gadgil to Pune and requested his in-laws, who stayed in the city for a measure of land for the shop on Laxmi Road. Anant, now the 96-year-old patriarch of the Gadgil family, who is fondly known as Dajikaka, reminisces, "Back then, all the jewellers were based in the Sonya Maruti area and people could not understand why I wanted to set up my shop up on Laxmi Road, which had just been constructed then. In fact, when we opened the shop, we would see mounds of sand all over the road. I chose Laxmi Road because it was close to the Peth areas. Many people now tell me that we have been responsible in bringing Sonya Maruti to Laxmi Road."
Dajikaka adds that PN Gadgil Jewellers is a revered name among jewellers because of the four core values that are ingrained in all those associated with the venture- truthfulness, integrity, sincerity and delivering a good quality product. The feisty 97-year-old also visits a different outlet of the venture every day of the week, and proudly proclaims, "I have been working for 70 years. My age and experience would qualify me for two pensions."
Dajikaka's grandson Saurabh, who has been looking after the business since 1998 and is the force behind its expansion to various outlets in Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur and even in the US, says that the expansion is a conscious decision to capitalise on the lucrative opportunities in the field of retail.
Speaking about the demands of customers in recent times, Saurabh says, "Customers these days don't mind paying a relatively large sum of money, but are demanding in terms of creativity and the designs they want. Satisfying their creative urge is the biggest challenge we face. For this purpose, we brainstorm with our in-house designers to come up with something unique. Till date, we have launched various collections like the modern Maharashtrian jewellery collection Swarajya, the South Indian Temple jewellery collection and the tribal-inspired Wild Gold collection."
He adds, "We plan to focus on building a strong brand through innovative designs that give it a distinct flavour compared to the other players in the market."