Farah Khan Ali’s pieces have always been inundated with colour through the use of choicest gemstones. The selection and chromatic arrangement of vividly hued gemstones in her pieces combined with her flamboyant design style makes each of her pieces, a signature one.
Farah Khan Ali has been a part of the jewellery industry for 28 years. In her words, she captures moments, romanticises it and then creates a legacy that can be passed down generations.
She started her own brand in 2004 and has gained domestic and international recognition since then.
To mark 25 years in the industry, she released a coffee table book Farah Khan: A Bejewelled Life which offers a glimpse into the designer’s mind. Her jewellery takes inspiration from Indian elements and her travels across the globe.
During the pandemic, Khan dreamt up a new brand to celebrate love, faith and resilience though jewels that spell joy.
“The Farah Khan Atelier is a brand of wearable premium jewellery that celebrates moments in life, ones that fill us with gratitude, joy, hope, healing, love, light, introspection, and inspiration,” shares Khan in her brand note.
The brand will follow a shop-in-shop retail model and will be available in stores across India soon.
Solitaire International speaks to Farah Khan Ali to find out more about the retail model, shifting consumer trends and what the industry will look like in 2022.
How was the response to the launch of Farah Khan Atelier at IIJS 2021? When can we expect it in stores?
The response has been good, and we are in talks with various retailers. The Farah Khan Atelier line should be in stores by March/April this year.
Do you think shop-in-shops is the way forward for the Indian jewellery retail industry?
I don’t know about others, but for me, as a designer, shop-in-shops gives me exposure to a different kind of market. It enables me to understand which of my designs and at what price points are they being appreciated.
Farak Khan Fine Jewellery is an aspirational brand that is known domestically and internationally. It also works well for the retailer since it opens the doors for new clientele to walk into the store, especially since Farah Khan Atelier is targeted at the younger audience, primarily, millennials. The collections are sold with strong talking points and visual merchandising, making it a compelling story for a consumer to purchase it.
Have you seen a shift in consumer preferences in the last few years?
Consumers want wearable jewellery rather than keeping it in the lockers. They are willing to experiment with gemstones and not just emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. They are looking at various colours. I think there is a shift from a cultural element to a more fashion element – a means to express one’s style and personality. We bring a cultural element but with a twist of fashion because it helps us tell a story.
Are there any gemstones that are trending at the moment apart from the big three?
Basically, people are buying colour. They are looking opals, moonstones, tanzanite, amethyst, citrines … and other gemstones. There is a shift from ‘only diamond jewellery’ to colour. This is not just in terms of gemstones. They are also willing to buy colour through different materials such as ceramic and that’s what I am doing with Farah Khan Atelier. We are selling ceramic, gold and diamond jewellery. There is so much you can offer with colour.
Are new-age brides shopping differently?
I have noticed that there are two different audiences when it comes to brides, one still wants to dress as a Rajput princess. The other, wants jewellery that is multifaceted. The jewellery should seamlessly pair well with Indian and Western outfits. They want their jewellery to be quirky even though it is their wedding. They want to be remembered for wearing something that is unique. They want to look like new-age princesses.
Which are the strong markets for you internationally?
I have a strong presence in the Middle East and Gulf countries. I also have clients from South American countries. This year, we will be tapping jewellery retailers and luxury stores in North America and the Far East.
A lot of people tapped into the digital space during the pandemic. What’s your journey been like?
I haven’t focused much on the digital space although I intend to start selling online. We are currently working on making our existing website more user-friendly.
What are your plans for 2022?
I am looking at creating a fingerprint of the Farah Khan Atelier line with shop-in shops across India. I am going to be expanding internationally in the Gulf countries and America. Fingers crossed that it all works out. We are working very hard at it and there is a lot of work involved.
Do you plan to expand in the lifestyle space as well?
Yes. That is very much on the agenda, but I will do that once I establish my new brand. Design for me is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be only jewellery but since I am a pro in jewellery, I might as well do what I do best, first.
You have completed 28 years in the jewellery industry. What is your biggest learning?
My biggest learning is that that there is always something new to learn. My great asset has been the fact that I am open to change. I am always looking at technology to make better products and enhance my jewellery.
I take a bit of the past and use the present to put something into the future. Because I know that whatever I create is going to outlive the wearer and myself.
What will the jewellery sector be like in 2022?
People are never going to stop buying jewellery. It is always going to do well because jewellery commemorates moments in your life – whether it is the birth of a child, a wedding, a graduation, a message for a loved one or sometimes a self-celebration. It is precious. I think eventually this segment is going to outdo every other segment. Even though it is considered a luxury commodity, in the recession as well as in the pandemic, jewellery sales remained strong, excluding the first three months.
It is here to stay and will grow by leaps and bounds specially in a country like India. We have a growing middle class. It is a great market to be in. We have brands like Tiffany and Bulgari that are trying to tap into the Indian market. It is a good space to be in and a good time to be in the jewellery industry. The competition is tough but that is what makes you work harder to give your customer a better product.