Anabel Cutler, travel and fashion journalist, traveled with India Beat to Jaipur to explore the city’s vibrant shopping scene and indulge her gemstone habit!
The Gem Palace: India’s premier jewellery store is a treasure chest of rare and precious delights.
By Anabel Cutler
At first sight, the Gem Palace is indistinguishable from it’s dusty neighbours on Mirza Ismail Roa, where most of Jaipur’s jewellers are located. But behind the facade lies one of the most revered jewellery houses in India, a place on speed dial for most of India’s aristocracy, as well as celebrities worldwide. Mick Jagger, Gwyneth Paltrow and Prince Charles have all fought their way through the heat and dust to reach the haven that is the Gem Palace.
At it’s creative hub is Munnu Kasliwal, who owns and runs the jeweller’s with his two brothers. His showroom is an understated affair, with low tables and mattresses on the floor, where customers and designers can sit cross legged, inspecting jewels. In another room craftsmen grade sacks of semi-precious stones cutting them by hand and polishing them into beautiful gems.
“Let’s dress you up like a maharani!” Munnu laughs. He places two gigantic gold “T-shirt” necklaces around my neck. “I wanted to create something you could wear with a pair of jeans” he tells me. “It look like costume jewellery and only my clients know the real value.” And how much is that? “About two and a half million dollars” says Munnu, waving his hand as if this is so much small change.
By the end of our session, the table is covered with priceless pieces like discarded toys after playtime. This lackadaisical affection for the jewellry is what makes shopping at Gem Palace such fun, if you can afford it – and fascinating even if you can’t. Happily not all the pieces cost a king’s ramsom. Pieces start at around £120 for a ring set with semi-precious stones.
Anabel Cutler travelled with India Beat (indiabeat.co.uk). She stayed at Samode Haveli in Jaipur; doubles from £140, b&b.
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