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Meet Arundhati De Sheth, the bespoke jewellery consultant




With the country’s swish set reaching out to her, jewellery consultant Arundhati De is making a mark with original pieces and uncommon designers.

“Putting together a jewellery collection is like putting together an art collection,” says Arundhati De Sheth. As a bespoke consultant of fine jewellery, the 34-year-old has garnered a name with her sharp instincts. Barely 18 months into the business, she attracts a fashion-forward set who value design and craftsmanship as much as precious stones. “What makes her special is her eye,” says Nonita Kalra, editor of Harper’s Bazaar magazine. “She’s ahead of the curve; designers that are popular now, she found two years ago, like Paris-based Emmanuel Tarpin (whose sculptural pieces have been spotted on celebs like Rihanna) and Swapna Mehta from Hyderabad (who repurposes vintage jewellery). Arundhati brings conscious consumption into our lives, not conspicuous consumption.”

In a culture where families traditionally turn to jewellers with whom they’ve built relationships over generations, Sheth represents a new path. “There’s a growing movement in India towards contemporary jewellery and a different way of wearing it,” says Cecilia Morelli Parikh, who owns Le Mill, the high-end luxury store in Mumbai and Delhi. “Rather than investing in trousseau staples, women want to spend on jewellery they can wear daily or to more casual events like dinners. Arundhati saw that. She finds designers who create original, modern pieces, but using local craftsmanship.”

Thinking with the heart

As the elder daughter of author (and avid jewellery collector) Shobhaa De and businessman Dilip De, Sheth was exposed to jewellery from a young age. Her subsequent professional experience — after an MBA in Paris, she interned with LVMH in Paris and Cartier in Dubai, and worked with A Jaffe, the US-based bridal jewellery company, and diamantaire Nirav Modi, as part of the sales team — honed her knowledge.

A curated jewellery pop-up at Le Mill in Mumbai over a year ago propelled her advisory business. It drew in stylish women, both young and old, to peruse a selection ranging from do-it-yourself name bracelets for ₹12,000 to a necklace for ₹30 lakh. “Till then, it was all quite ad hoc. I used to take family friends, who were visiting India, jewellery shopping, and help my friends when they asked for my opinion,” she says. “But after this [the pop-up], I thought ‘I don’t know if this is a profession but it is something I love’, so why not try it? I got business cards and built a website!”

Today, she has clients like fashion entrepreneur Pernia Qureshi, who turned to Sheth when she wanted to gift herself a pair of statement earrings. “Arundhati can find you things that are uncommon,” says Qureshi. Like intricate pieces from metalsmith Shachee Shah, who works with micro-mosaic glass and woven gold jewellery. “My engineering is small scale; I only have 25 pieces in my studio. But Arundhati has a great understanding of what people want and connects them to the right designer,” says Shah.

A jinx broken

Interestingly, Sheth’s relationship with gems had an inglorious start. “Jewellery would just break in my hands, or mysteriously get lost,” she recalls. Her mother, Shobhaa De, calls it a “traumatic phase”, when she wrecked nearly everything she touched. “She’d borrow my most-loved chokers and earrings, and I’d be on tenterhooks till she came home, wondering whether I’d ever see them again. Or, find them intact.”

Born and raised in Mumbai, in a household Sheth describes as “atypical,” she grew up around art and artefacts. “My mother started working when she was young and she used to tell us [her four siblings from her parents’ previous marriages, and a younger sister] that even if she got a cheque for ₹10,000, she’d buy jewellery,” she says. Shobhaa De is now happy that her daughters have “finally started to appreciate all the pieces I meticulously collected over 50 years”.

Expanding her reach

In 2016, after Sheth got married and had two children in rapid succession, she began contributing to Harper’s Bazaar, writing jewellery stories, visiting Jaipur and its gem-filled bazaars. Seeing such beauty, she wondered why people who bought luxury bags and shoes seasonally couldn’t be encouraged to buy jewels more regularly, especially when much of it was made in India. Her advisory business was in response to that. “Jewellery is made with as much thoughtfulness, creativity and innovation as an artwork. It needs to be viewed, valued and worn in that spirit,” says Sheth, who curated her second pop-up at Le Mill last month.

She structures her fees much like an interior designer — a mix of a flat charge and a variable component linked to the value of the jewel she sources. Her value proposition is that she works on behalf of her client to negotiate the best price with a seller and passes those savings on to the buyer. Currently, she has three clients on an annual retainer, while the others pay her a percentage of the value of the item bought (between 1% and 10%). Next year, she hopes to expand the business, working with more private clients but also, perhaps, consulting for jewellery and retail stores.


Courtesy: THEHINDU


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