Timeless and irrevocable, Indian jewellery is as much admired today as it was in the days of the Mughals and Rajputs who made it a point of reference in the jewellery history of the entire world. Kanan Naheta, the charming owner of the Gehna Jewellery Boutique in Dubai believes that jewellery and beauty go hand in hand, a combination that cannot stand without the strong foundation of tradition, ethnicity, and culture. And when it comes to weddings, what could spell beauty better than the perfect bridal jewellery? Bride & Groom – Oman had an in-depth discussion with this dynamic lady who took us through the roots of Gehna, how it started, what it has to offer for brides, and above all, how it understands and respects the Arab culture of the region.
Take us through the beginnings of Gehna.
My husband Pranit Naheta comes from a family of jewellers who have a long lineage to their name. He is a member of the family’s 7th generation. Counting backwards that is almost 150 years. So about a century and a half ago the journey our company Jaipur Jewels and our ancestors began as being goldsmiths and jewellery artisans somewhere in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, from where we moved to Multan which was part of India before partition. Our ancestors would also supply precious gemstones like Kashmiri Sapphires and rare panjsher emeralds to craftsmen who made jewellery that was worn by the royalty of yesteryears like the Maharaja of Patiala and Jaipur Royalty.
It isn’t common to come across a family who has been involved in one business for this long.
True, especially in today’s modern times and age of machines, its indeed an honor to go back to our tradition and continue to revive what is lost and dying as a craft. The story continues after the partition, Pranit’s grandfather moved back to Rajasthan with the craftsmen we worked with. In those days, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh, the ruler was promoting the craft of enameling and jadau jewellery making. We commissioned many pieces for the royal family descendants of India with our rare gemstones.
From Jaipur we moved to the vibrant Mumbai in late 50’s ,where we ventured into our very first retail set-up in the new and popular a/c market of Tardeo, the first one of its kind in those days. Having contacts with royalties, we often procured exquisite and rare jewellery sold by them after their princely states become democratic after India’s freedom in 1947. We began trading in rare basra pearls, Victorian and antique jewellery as well auction jewellery. This then led on to us adding a lot of jewellery related activities to our portfolio. Our jewellery business gained popularity and flourished when Pranit’s father Subhash Naheta took over the lineage and set up our first flagship store Jaipur Jewels on Nepeansea road, Mumbai in early 70’s. We became a one stop destination for jewellery. All our services made us a jewellery enterprise. The Jaipur Jewels store on Nepeansea road in Mumbai were the preferred choice for business families such as the Ruias and Birlas, and a popular destination for film stars like Kapoors and Bachhans in the early 70’s. We manufacture our handcrafted Jadau creations in our set-up in Jaipur with descendants of the same craftsmen and we further assemble and finish them in our Mumbai workshop as per our clients preferences and suitability. Generations of the same family continue to patronize us for the trousseaus of their women folk.
How did Gehna come into the picture?
Pranit grew up in a jewellery centric environment and reminisces playing with gemstones when other kids around played with marbles. He completed his program in Gemmology and jewellery designing from the Gemological Institute of America. When his generation entered into the mainstream business at the dawn of the new millennium, everyone had a definite role to play and business became more organized. Pranit wanted to expand business internationally, hence he took it upon his shoulders to handle international operations and set up our first office outside India in the fast developing Dubai in 2003. He continued the wholesale trade in diamonds and color stones in Middle East for 12 years, supplying raw material to leading jewellery manufacturers in Middle East. It was Pranit’s father’s dream to have an international retail presence hence we ventured into retail foray with the new brand launching as the Gehna Jewellery Boutique in 2015 in Dubai. It carries the same heritage, culture, values, and authenticity carried from our parent company ‘Jaipur Jewels’ but with a definite international flavor and global outlook connecting the modern women to her traditional roots.
You seem to be catering to a more global audience now.
Absolutely! Lifestyles have changed and are definitely different outside of India; however, the quintessential Indian woman still holds on to her traditional roots dearly even if she follows an international lifestyle. We aim to cross over both ideals of traditionalism and modernity, keeping classic as well as trendy pieces that even cater to young girls whose requirements are very different from those of their mother’s or grandmother’s. The new generation tends to look at more practical usability of their trousseau jewellery. So we provide solutions for the same with expert advice. At Gehna Boutique, we carry the same products and offer them at the same prices as in our India store as we believe in customer satisfaction with regular after sales service across all our platforms, to ensure repeat customers for generations and carry a global value for our brand.
Tell us about the boutique.
Our very first boutique ‘Gehna Jewellery Boutique’ is in the cosmopolitan emirate of Dubai, where we have incorporated the heritage and culture of our roots combined with the brand patronage
and goodwill that is inherited from the parent company back in India.
The 1000 sq ft boutique cum office is in ‘Gold and Diamond Park’, Sheikh Zayed Road, very close to the Mall of the Emirates. It has a royal setting; as though you’ve walked into a modern version of a room from a Rajasthan Palace. There are arches and paintings, and the colour combinations are reflected in the seating. Everything we have used to enhance our décor is handcreated! From kashmiri carpet and marble inlay work tables, to hand-carved wooden seating and hand-painted cushions to rajasthani miniatures and Bundi paintings. The experience is that of being immersed in a bygone era, where you get complete consultancy on what you want to buy. When a client buys jewellery displayed amidst such a setting, it gives them the satisfaction of actually owning a piece of heritage, art and culture which was present in the Mughal era. The entire buying experience itself is unique.
Since your boutique is in the UAE, do you mingle the Middle Eastern heritage in your bridal designs?
Historically our cultures in fact are very close: If you study the art, architecture and the handcrafts, there is a huge similarity and after all jewellery is inspired from art and architecture along with a blend of culture and tradition. Many traditions and culture are common especially in Oman, UAE and India. There are many Arabs who speak decent Hindi and enjoy the Indian cuisine and most definitely our Bollywood movies. At every wedding there is at least one function, where they all dress up in Indian jewellery, play Indian music and partake in the Henna Night, where they wear Indian jewellery. Gehna can offer them the perfect choices for the same. Besides exquisite ‘jadau’ sets, we customize for them elaborate headgear what we call in India as ‘mathapatti’ and hand ornaments, which we call ‘haathphool’ to match their neck-pieces and suit their dresses and culture, since these accessories are most visible in conservative or covered dressing
How do you guide brides in choosing jewellery?
For Brides-to-be, we provide a one-on-one consultation through the whole jewellery selection and purchase process. The key USP being that Pranit, a GIA gemologist and jewellery designer and me being a Fashion and Textile designer trained from SNDT college where the industry’s big names train us, like Wendell Rodrigues, Hemant Trivedi, and Neeta Lulla. Together my husband and I make a unique combination. Whenever a bride comes to us, Pranit understands essentially what she needs and requires in the form of jewellery, be it diamond or color stone designs; how elaborate the look should be, what kind of budgets she is working with, which kind of designs we can make within the said budget; whereas I look at the overall styling in respect to what she is going to wear and what colour combination will best suit her dress, her hairdo, as well as what will work best with her neckline or face shape. The bride can either first choose the jewellery according to her tastes, or we can help her choose it based on the outfit she shall be wearing. We can also guide her which style of bridal dress, fabric or embellishment will make her jewellery stand out; it doesn’t stop there! We can help a bride co-ordinate everything perfectly in a way that will allow her to use the pieces independently as well. After all, Jewellery is the biggest investment that a bride’s family makes for her in any marriage.
There is always a certain hesitation in buying a wedding set since you may never wear it again.
We try to make all of our designs as multifunctional as possible. This is what we focus on. The reason that the 22K polki Jadau jewellery works wonders with brides is that this jewellery is not soldered. It is all connected with links. It’s made with soft 22K gold unlike diamond jewellery, which is 18K gold and relatively hard and cannot be separated once made since there are no detachable components. With our Jadau collection we can assemble together different motifs with links so that if tomorrow you buy a big bridal set and return to us some time later saying this has been sitting unused in your locker, we are here to tell you that the very same jewellery can be converted into a different design and style like a bracelet or a pendant or any other piece for any occasion! With one single necklace we can give you almost three options of reusability.
What are the types of jewellery you deal in?
Ofcourse the most popular is our inhouse brand of 22 carat gold jadau jewellery for which we are famous in the industry. We also do bespoke 18k diamond and precious stone Jewellery customization, fine Jewellery and antiques, as well as ready-to-wear diamond Jewellery. There are many jewellery manufacturers based in Hong Kong and Turkey to whom we supply diamonds. They send us their collections time to time to propose to our clients. We provide a platform of sorts for them. These are usually displayed on an exhibition or event basis. We also deal in solitaire jewellery, wedding rings, wedding bands, engagement rings etc. My husband has good business networking within his family to procure diamonds from their Belgium or New York office at the best prices. He also has a local tie-up with a Russian partner to cut solitaires from Russian rough diamonds using best equipment and Russian expertise, which we certify at GIA for clients. Pranit also provides in-depth consultation in GIA certified solitaires stones, which he deals in, and can customize into classic rings, earrings, eternity bracelets, tennis bracelets, bangles in designs we can create as per the clients preferences. Clients usually look for such services for special occasions like weddings, or milestones like 25th anniversaries, 50th birthdays, etc. He has a facebook page dedicated to the same called ‘Diamonds by PranitNaheta’ where he offers really great deals on solitaire diamonds.
Gehna Jewellery Boutique
Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
M: +971 50 3423690