From Heart To Heritage With The Golecha’s – Part 1
A warm Friday afternoon. In the hustle-bustle of Mumbai, Golecha Jewels (Vijay and Roopali Golecha) hosted hi-tea for the members of the Women’s Jewellery Association (WJA, India) at their cosy jewelry boutique, located in a plush suburb of Mumbai, Bandra.
Words do not do justice in describing the privilege I experienced while chatting with Vijay ji, Roopali (Roopali bhabhi as I call her) and Vijay’s humble mother. Vijay has a charismatic personality. He is an accomplished man and takes utmost pride (his eyes lit up) as he speaks with innocence and passion about the struggles he faced and the risks he had taken to build his journey in the jewelry industry.
StylePrer (SP): Tell us a little about your journey?
Vijay Golecha (VG): We hailed from a joint family in Pali, Rajasthan and had moved to Jaipur in the 1990’s. My mama (maternal uncle) in Jaipur used to run a jadav jewelry business under whom my brother Sandeep and I took formal training. After having worked with him, we wanted to pursue our own business. Having a non-jewelry background, neither did we know people in the industry nor did we have any clients. The question was, “Who would buy our jewelry? We did not have a family business or history in jewelry. That’s when I told Sandeep, “We will create our own history!”
Our aim was to make unique jewelry, a signature style of ours which differed from every jeweller. We had the courage to take risks to create a niche. He laughs as he adds, “There was nothing to lose as we dint have anything. When someone has too much to lose, they might fear loosing it all.”
SP: How did Bollywood happen?
VG: Back in 2004 we got the opportunity to design jewelry for Umrao Jaan. It had been only 3-4 years since we had started the jewelry business. Our business wasn’t established enough to hold stock for almost a year or carry jewelry in remote locations for a film shoot which was risky. Women back then in Bollywood did not wear much precious jewelry. We took the plunge! Our jewelry was very well received and our journey took a turn. We were given the privilege to design the wedding jewelry of Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan which is considered as one of Bollywood’s most extravagant weddings.
SP: You have designed for clients from the royal families to Bollywood, tell us a little about the expectations a client has when they want a Vijay Golecha design?
VG: Customers generally say,“we want something different, that nobody else has.” The phrase “something different” has a vague definition. As a jeweller it’s important to create a niche in their styling. It’s probably at that time when you recognise, “ki yeh jewelry aisi bani hai, matlab its a Vijay Golecha design” My visitor books have had comments, where customers were ready to pay to get a glimpse of my jewelry collection. That gave us a feel good factor.Its essential to have a good quality product and I am honest with my customers. If I do not like the quality or craftsmanship of any gemstones, diamonds or jewelry though its manufactured by me, I prefer loosing that sale. I do not like to misguide the consumer or cheat them. My customer has to feel confident of the product purchased.
SP: Where do you get Design Inspirations from ?
Usually designers sketch a concept they have on their mind and then work on the diamond sizes and stones. For me it’s the other way. I spread the gems I have and designs automatically flow in mind. Another benefit being that it allows me to play with gems, design and utilise the stock I have. I often travel to a quiet place when working on a special projects.
Nirupa Bhatt, MD-GIA, India and Middle East asked Vijay: What is your suggestion for budding designers in the industry who feel their work or they as designers are not getting recognition?
VG: A designer should wholeheartedly design something what they feel their forte is. Its good to have a role model, but they shouldn’t copy someone or be like them. They must identify their own forte and work on that than jumping into everything at one go. A jeweller may want to have all product categories in their inventory but a designer has to create a niche.
NB: A student has just completed their jewelry course and wants to start work. How can they identify their forte and create a niche?
VG: More than often people are lost to get started or what they want? When we started our career, we ourselves didn’t know. It was a step by step process. At every step you have to question yourself, ‘what is it that you enjoy and gives you happiness?’ Some people may go to work for the sake of it while some look forward to their day at work. I often go to the workshop after store hours and experiment on manufacturing techniques with the karigars. This gives me pleasure and keeps me going!
NB: Should a designer follow the market trends or create their own niche ?
VG: One is a trend setter, while one is a trend follower. If you feel you are working to earn a living then you might want to follow the market trends. If you want to create an identity or a mark of your own, then you have to be a trend setter. When I started my career nobody knew me, neither did I have the money nor a client. I worked for it, took risks at every step and build the confidence to create a market of my own. “Jab aap pathoron ka kaam karte ho, then patharon ka jigar rakho.”
I made a box full of pieces and started selling from there. We were overwhelmed with the our first IIJS exhibition in 2003 which made us realise that we were working in the right direction. With the awareness and growth in digital marketing at this point, its easier for designer become successful.
NB: What is the way ahead for designers? Should they showcase in an art gallery or any other place?
VG: IIJS is a good platform for designers to showcase their work.
It was my brother, Sandeep’s dream to curate a jewelry museum. I am in process of curating it in Jaipur near amer. This will have a section for budding designers to showcase and sell their jewelry every 1 month under their name.
Vijay’s handwritten poems are continued in the next article… Link as follows