Chhatrala Jewels: Reviving Traditional Rajput Jewellery

Sushila Kumari’s journey into the world of jewellery began with a retail space inside one of the finest palaces in India – the Umaid Bhavan Palace’s retail store. She began selling silver jewellery from there and has since moved on to establishing her own polki and diamond jewellery brand Chhatrala Jewels that is spreading the love for traditional Rajput jewellery worldwide.

Sushila Kumari talks about her brand becoming a top pick for Rajput families, bride and grooms that have destination weddings in Rajasthan as well as modern jewellery fans from India and the globe.

Sushila Kumari

How did you enter the jewellery business?

I was very interested in jewellery. No one in my family is connected with the jewellery industry. I do not have a formal education in the field, but I just started with designing silver jewellery and went on to work with gold and diamonds.

We manufacture traditional Rajput jewellery in Jodhpur with meenakari work as well as contemporary diamond jewellery. My daughters now help me in the business. Tarini helps me with the designing. She studied accessory design from Florence and has done a course in jewellery designing from Jaipur. Prakriti looks into marketing and sales.

The scalloped 22-karat gold necklace is composed with polkis, emeralds, rubies and pearls bearing the traditional Machchi (fish) motifs. By Chhatrala Jewels

When did you start your brand?

Whenever we would go to the Umaid Bhawan Palace, I would pass by a store in the Palace that belongs to Her Highness. There was some jewellery displayed at the store and it gave me an idea to design my own jewellery and sell it through the store.

In 2007, I began my business by buying jewellery from Jaipur, making some changes and then selling it at the Umaid Bhawan Palace and later, another store at the Mehrangarh Fort. I received a good response for my pieces.

In 2008, I started manufacturing uncut diamond jewellery with meenakari work at the back, especially bridal Rajput jewellery which wasn’t available easily in the market. We wear a big wedding necklace called timanya or aadh, baju bandh, head ornaments and hand ornaments like gaind, gajra, gokhru, bangri, etc.

In 2011, we built a showroom near my house and started the brand Chhatrala Jewels.

22-karat gold Barfi Mehri set with English polki, a more refined version of flat cut polkis with more facets. The floral polki and pearl Mehri headpiece is set in 22-karat gold, and is enhanced with white sapphires. By Chhatrala Jewels

Tell us a little about your clients.

We have a lot of Rajput clients. Many others also like the concept of Rajput wedding jewellery, especially those who have destination weddings in Rajasthan. Many of the families who host their wedding at the Umaid Bhawan Palace order jewellery from us.

These days, Instagram has become an important tool to reach out to new clients. We have customers from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai apart from those in Rajasthan. We also export to the USA, UK, Dubai and other places.

A stunning necklace featuring lemon topaz, South Sea pearls and polkis set in 22-karat gold. By Chhatrala Jewels

What is your USP?

We specialise in Rajput bridal jewellery. I want to keep Rajput culture alive through the traditional jewels that we wear for weddings. Our aim is to get more people to love and wear these jewels and to help them understand the culture and tradition behind the jewellery. We also tell our clients how these pieces have been worn over the years. There are different hand ornaments. We give them a diagram of what comes first what was worn earlier. Such as one would wear gaind first, then gajra, gokhru and bangri or then if one has a tibban-pattian set, then one wears punchi, gokhru, bangri and then the tibban-pattian set. The Tibban-pattian set is not easily found these days. We are one of the few places that still sells them.

We also have lightweight jewellery for modern women. We use different kinds of gemstones. These are appreciated by tourists who like coloured stone jewellery with diamonds and Victorian-style jewellery.

People in Hyderabad and Bengaluru love our polki pieces with meenakari.

The various types of bangles and the right way to stack them up. By Chhatrala Jewels

Meenakari has become all-time favourite these days, do you agree?

Everyone likes meena. We do meenakari even on our rings. We stick to the traditional meenakari colours. Today, one can get pop colours such as yellow and neon pink in enamelling, but these are opaque unlike the traditional colours like red, blue and green which are more transparent.

What inspired your designs?

Flower, traditional motifs used in carpets, traditional poshaks, peacocks and other birds – basically anything that catches our fancy. We also use heritage pieces and jewellery in museums as reference points for our designs.

Which gemstones are preferred by your clients at the moment?

We use a lot of moonstones, opals, amethyst, citrines, lemon topaz, aquamarine and more. Right now, people are buying jewellery set with opals and amethyst. In Southern India, ruby, turquoise and coral jewellery is favoured.

Which is your best-selling piece of jewellery?

Timanyas, our chaand-suraj head ornaments and bangris are popular.

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