From Couture to Carats: Manish Malhotra’s Journey into the World of High Jewellery

Envision the epitome of resonant Bollywood melodies, accompanied by the enchanting twirls of intricately designed lehengas and the graceful drapes of sarees that have left an indelible mark on India’s ever-evolving cultural landscape over the past three decades. It’s quite probable that a significant number of these captivating ensembles can be attributed to the visionary couturier, MANISH MALHOTRA, who has skilfully sculpted one of India’s most coveted luxury fashion brands from the ground up. Now, poised to make an indomitable statement in the realm of high jewellery, he unveiled a precious-jewellery vertical in 2023, a glittering extension of his eponymous brand.

In an exclusive interview with Shilpa Dhamija, Manish Malhotra describes his inspiration and growth plan for his new jewellery division.

Like most successful global luxury brands, couture brands in India too are diversifying beyond apparel to capitalise on brand value and explore avenues for growth. What prompted you to diversify your brand into precious jewellery?

Launching our jewellery line was a decision close to my heart. To me, jewellery isn’t just an accessory; it’s a reflection of who we are, embodying our emotions and heritage. Moreover, the realisation that a bride’s ensemble is made complete with the perfect jewellery was a compelling driving force for me.

The overwhelmingly positive response to our initial venture into jewellery reaffirmed that our vision of elegance and sophistication deeply resonated with our audience.

We started with the classic beauty of polki designs and the response was simply amazing. Building on this success, we ventured into high jewellery, incorporating natural diamonds, Russian and Zambian emeralds that added a lot of depth to our collections.

Manish Malhotra

How has the transition from designing and materialising clothing to jewellery been, so far?

My designs demanded keen attention to detail, and finding the right artisans was no easy feat. Discovering these gifted individuals was challenging, as I wanted to ensure that their skills and dedication aligned perfectly with our commitment to crafting meaningful narratives and celebrating artistry.

We now have exceptional artisans who use traditional techniques passed down to them through generations.

The challenges I faced revolved around the differences in technicalities between designing clothes and crafting jewellery. It required me to delve into the intricacies of jewellery making.

What are the moulding and gem-setting, cutting techniques used in the natural diamond jewellery?

Our collections showcase a versatility of gem cuts and settings that reflect the expertise of our craftsmen. The ‘Armour Cut’ is our signature technique. It adds an allure to Zambian emeralds.

When it comes to diamonds, we embrace brilliant, marquise, and rose cuts, each bringing its own touch of elegance and charm. We have also featured pear-shaped and oval-shaped gems.

The Roisin necklace designed with rubies and diamonds. By Manish Malhotra High Jewellery

Who was the first Manish Malhotra Jewellery bride? What kind of jewellery did she choose and why?

I’ve always been passionate about the idea of a ‘diamond bride’. Then, Kiara Advani came along and she became the first-ever diamond bride for Manish Malhotra Jewellery. While most brides go for uncut (diamond) jewellery, she was on board with my vision for her to do something different.

She wore our stunning Zaria necklace and earrings, which featured exquisite pear-shaped diamonds and rare Zambian emeralds.

For her reception, she just dazzled in the ‘Inara’ necklace. It’s an amazing trilogy of a choker; a layered diamond necklace, and a lariat piece, all adorned with our unique armour-cut emeralds, complemented by sparkling diamonds and pearls.

The Alora necklace features cabochon Russian emeralds complemented by brilliant-cut diamonds. By Manish Malhotra High Jewellery

You have used various colours and types of emeralds in your first collection. The Russian emerald, in particular, is eye-catching. What pulled you towards this gemstone for your first bridal collection?

When I was creating my first bridal collection, I just couldn’t get over the allure of emeralds.  This gemstone, with its mesmerising green hues, adds a unique charm and a touch of luxury to bridal elegance. It resonates with the preference of the modern bride, especially against a pastel canvas.

Each shade of emerald has its own story, mirroring different aspects of a bride’s personality and journey. For example, Parineeti Chopra and Kiara Advani both wore emeralds, but each in her way. Parineeti chose the Russian emerald, and Kiara went for the Zambian emerald.

The fascinating thing is how these different emerald shades brought out their individual beauty and styles. It’s amazing how the same gemstone can take on such different characters and perfectly complement each bride’s unique style and personality.

Kiara Advani looks like a modern-day princess in her bridal jewellery suite designed with emeralds and diamonds. By Manish Malhotra High Jewellery

In the Indian culture, bridal jewellery is often considered a potential heirloom investment. Do you see modern-day brides acquiring elaborate bridal jewellery with the same vision?

I’m confident that Gen-Z and future brides will keep embracing this tradition but with their own twist. You see, modern brides cherish their ancestral heirlooms, but they also want something that reflects today’s style. That’s where our high jewellery line comes in. We’ve found this sweet spot where we preserve heritage and give it a contemporary edge.

Crafting jewellery is a very intimate process for me as I aim to create pieces that connect with the modern woman’s unique journey. Each piece carries emotions and I hope it finds a lasting place in their life’s extraordinary story.

What should one expect from your upcoming jewellery collections? Will you bring non-bridal precious jewellery in your collections, too?

The romance with natural diamonds will continue to shine in my upcoming jewellery collections. We’ll continue to pair them perfectly with various gemstones and colour palettes.

Our jewellery collections aren’t just for weddings. We’ve got exquisite pieces that are perfect for celebrations like cosy soirées or fancy cocktail parties, and even for the runway. What we’re aiming for is to craft masterpieces that hold the same level of artistry and meaning, no matter the occasion.

The Eraya necklace patterned with large Zambian emeralds framed with diamonds. By Manish Malhotra High Jewellery

India is one of the world’s leading destinations for crafting jewellery and cutting gems. According to you, what should the industry do to further strengthen its position in the global arena with its gem and jewellery expertise?

Boosting the global brand image of India’s incredible jewellery and gem crafting tradition requires a multifaceted approach. First, fostering innovation in design and craftsmanship is essential in keeping traditions relevant and appealing.

It’s also crucial to source materials ethically and sustainably to meet global standards. Finally, emphasising transparency and quality control in the industry can enhance trust and reputation, further elevating the brand image of this age-old art, worldwide.

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