Jewellery has always been a constant in Arundhati De-Sheth’s life. Right from browsing through her mother and columnist Shobha De’s jewellery, as a kid, to celebrating her life’s milestones, many of her happy memories are associated with a piece of jewellery. When she got married, her husband, too, realised that jewellery was the way to her heart. Even her travel memories include her jewellery purchases. De-Sheth always wanted to be a part of the luxury industry.
While she was in business school in Paris, she interned with LVMH and Cartier and that taught her the inner workings of the jewellery world. Once back to Mumbai, she worked with Nirav Modi for five years, which gave her a lot of retail and consumer insights.
Her Instagram page, created in 2017, is a treasure trove of contemporary jewellery that is made right here in India. She has the knack to pick the extraordinary from the ordinary and discover not-so-known designers creating contemporary masterpieces of international quality.
This is the very reason why people turn to her to pick jewels for their own personal collections. Last year, her Diwali edit at Le Mill was a super sell-out. This year, she is hosting one through online appointments and a small open house at her home for private clients on November 5-7.
Arundhati De-Sheth talks to LuxeBook about being a jewellery advisor.
How did you decide to become a jewellery advisor?
Between having two kids and taking a sabbatical for a couple of months, I hadn’t really sat at home. I didn’t see myself as a conventional homemaker. I come from a family where the women have always worked after marriage. The few months when I didn’t have a professional life seemed strange. In 2017, I created a personal Instagram account to create a dialogue on everything I love about jewellery.
View this post on Instagram
There were many things that propelled me to take it to the next level. In August 2018, I started my own firm to help people make more interesting choices while buying jewellery and to promote the idea of buying jewellery for our generation.
Jewellery buying is an important feature of our culture, and girls today, they don’t have that same interest. There are so many other things that they would rather buy. That’s a pity because we have a big pool of jewellery designers who create contemporary pieces. I was compelled to try to popularise new-age jewellery.
What, according to you, is the role of a jewellery advisor?
There is a lot of jewellery in India, which is redundant. There are a lot of clustered retail environments. At the same time there are jewellers who are doing some amazing work.
My role as an advisor is to educate as well as bring forth an element of design. I want to guide people to make a more aesthetic choice. People continue to see jewellery as a commodity. They see it in terms of gold, diamonds and labour charges. Jewellery cannot be bought only on these terms. Jewellery needs to be viewed as an art form and given its due.
I help people understand the value of jewellery in an emotional, financial and cultural way. It is such a marker of time. You remember episodes in your memory box and very often a jewel plays a significant role in that. There are plenty of jewellers, skilled goldsmiths who are out of work because we are no longer buying jewellery with the same gusto. I want people to buy jewellery again.
How did you arrive at the best way to charge for your advisory services?
It initially started out as a helpful gesture for friends who were visiting India. Once I decided to make it my profession, I didn’t have anyone whom I could compare notes with. My services are like that of an art dealer or an interior specialist. It took me some time to figure out what I think now is the right way of charging people.
My fee is divided in two parts. One is a fixed component — for my time and inputs on a client’s query and the second component is a small percentage of sale value, if they end up buying. This is charged directly to the client. The sale between the jeweller and the client is completely transparent. I negotiate rates with the jewellers trying to find the best value possible.
Could you tell us a little more about your clients?
Most of my clients are from Mumbai. Others are spread between major metros like Chennai, Bengaluru and Delhi. I think their personal sense of aesthetics resonates with mine, which is very contemporary.
They want someone who they can trust and help them with the cumbersome or a time-consuming process of choosing the right kind of jewellery. I help streamline the process.
It is a matter of convenience. I really get into the shoes of whomsoever reaches out to me. I work on behalf of the clients.I have had clients of all age groups reaching out to me; from 30-year olds to 80-year olds. These are men looking to surprise their wives.
Then there are others who would love to shop but don’t have the time/energy to scout for the best things. So, I get a profile of the wife/girlfriend before I start the search. I always like to know what a client might already own. It is important while building a collection, to have pieces that can be appreciated over time.
What makes for the perfect jewellery collection?
A diamond in some form or another. It could be a pendant or a ring or a pair of earrings. I do love diamonds and I think almost every woman should have one good quality diamond in whichever jewellery she likes.
A pair of ear studs that can transition from day to night – solitaires or diamond pave earrings that attracts the right amount of attention.
A jadau set with matching earrings.
Evening earring that are light, flexible and not very heavy. It could be a mix of coloured gemstones or diamond chandeliers, something that instantly uplifts what you are wearing. I always insist on looking for things that are not very heavy so you can have a great time in them.
A piece of sentimental jewellery that has been in the family or specific to your ancestry or lineage. I would also add gold bangles to the collection. You can wear them with Indian and Western ensembles.
Tell us about your capsule collection for Le Mill.
In 2018, Cecilia Morelli Parikh, Co-founder of Le Mill, reached out to me to host an exhibition for them. I handpicked 150 jewels from 7 different jewellery makers from India. I had no expectations on how it would fare and had a great time sourcing the pieces. It came to me as a grand surprise, and a very good one, that they had super sales. Shoppers said that the collection was fresh, necessary and useful.
A few month later, I helped Cecilia source a few fine jewellery pieces for Le Mill. I had been pushing this line of enamel a lot and Cecilia asked me if I would do a capsule collection, which could be sold only at le Mill.
I work with a diamond and enamel manufacturer, who back then was making similar pieces for export. Enamelled contemporary jewellery is a huge trend right now. I give creative direction for whatever pieces I am housing and the designs change every few months.
Has jewellery consumption picked up post the lockdown?
People are buying jewellery again but not with the same gusto as they did earlier. As soon as the lockdown was eased, work picked up. It is all commissioned work, which is time consuming as opposed to ready pieces. Everyone is laughing about when they will wear jewellery again, but I think it is about bringing a bit of positivity though retail.
Could you share a few prêt labels that you love?
Shachee Shah, Studio Renn, Tallin Jewels, Gyan Jewels, my own line and Her Story.
One city that you love sourcing jewellery from?
Jaipur. I go to heaven when I go to Jaipur.