Tell us about Amrapali - the brand, how it started and how it has evolved over the years?
Tarang: Amrapali was formed in 1978 by my father Rajiv Arora and his friend Rajesh Ajmera. They were both history students living in Jaipur, where they had access to beautiful handicrafts, semi-precious stones and jewellery. Amrapali originally began as a handicrafts company, but it was soon clear that there was a demand for semi-precious stones that were cut in Jaipur. The two business partners soon developed a passion for Indian tribal jewellery as it had so much history.
They would drive around villages in Rajasthan to find pawn shops that sold unique pieces and purchased them at a slight premium. They would bring back the pieces and instead of selling them as is, they would dismantle the jewellery and recreate something new from it by adding new components and/or moving things around. They eventually hired a karigar to help them with this in early 80’s. He is actually still with the company, working on our jewellery designs!
As the word spread, Amrapali started building relationships with jewellery pawn shops and resellers from all over India. Our internationanl expansion started in 2002 when Amrapali was invited to showcase our collection at a special jewellery exhibition at Selfridges in London. I helped run the store and grow the brand in London whilst completing my post-graduate studies in gemology.
Our focus is now to give back to the community that has helped fuel the growth of Amrapali. Jewellery carries so much rich history about our culture and we want to help celebrate it and ensure it’s a sustainable industry for the long term. As part of this, we are working on opening the world’s largest museum for Indian tribal jewellery in Jaipur. Through our work, we have been fortunate enough to have access some amazing vintage jewellery pieces from various cultures and subcultures across India. Fortunately my father has been able to preserve some of the most unique pieces over the years and look forward to displaying these at the new museum. This will hopefully help draw attention to the incredible Indian jewellery art form and help grow the industry into a sustainable art especially in the remote parts of India.
Who designs and makes the jewellery?
Tarang: We still have artisans in small villages accross Rajasthan who make the jewellery and come to Jaipur once a month to sell them to us. The quality and quantity of the jewellery being made has dropped significantly since the origination of Amrapali and so we must do everything we can to preserve the art. We need to keep these artists and karigars motivated to keep going and to not leave the villages for white collar jobs in bigger cities
What is your role at Amrapali?
Tarang: I mainly look after the design of fine jewellery and look for trends and forecasts to create new peices in both silver and gold. We want to work towards being known as a leading brand in fine jewellery. We already have presence in prestigious stores around the world such as the Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty in London, but there is opportunity to grow more.
Despite our international presence, I want to ensure we stay true to our original philosophy of recreating old jewellery pieces into something new. We also create some brand new pieces from scratch but still look for inspiration for these from Indian history. We strongly believe we are an Indian brand and want to make pieces that represent the essence of India. Furthermore, we are proud of Indian artists and karigars and want to stay true to their design.
What is Amrapali’s design philosophy?
Tarang: We are always looking towards the future as well as the past and want to celebrate Indian culture, tradition and art. While our designs always have an essence of India and Rajasthan, we also try to design something that is flexible enough to be worn with both indian and western clothes.
Tell us about your bridal jewellery collection. What is the inspiration behind the sets?
Tarang: Our bridal collection includes bespoke designs as well as traditional Indian designs that have been worn by brides for generations. We have archived the jewellery designs worn by kings and queens throughout history, as these are classical, traditional pieces, which is always an inspiration for brides-to-be. Brides come to Amrapali for our big, bold pieces that will make a statement. I try to create more flexible peices so brides can dismantle them and wear them seperately after the wedding.
Our flagship store is in Jaipur, but we have stores all over the India and the world. The best thing about Amrapali is that we try not to recreate designs and as such, 70% of all our pieces are unique. We recreate 30% of the designs for everyday pieces such as simple polki jewellery becuase they are smaller and more simpler. We pride ourselves on making one of a kind pieces, so what you see in the Jaipur store will be different to the Delhi store for example.
All our stores are well equipped with qualified staff, however if there is anything that needs to be deisgned and produced from scratch, it comes through me first and I will sit down with the bride to discuss her vision. It usually takes a minimum 2 months to design and produce the piece, but can take up to 6 months if the stone needs to be cut in specific shapes and sizes.
What is your favourite bridal jewellery piece?
Tarang: I created a necklace which I named the ‘Junglee Necklace’ as it had a lot of pearls and stones and was a mix of everything I had in front of me on my table. It was a really bold design which did really well and became and trend. I have since made many more of them.
A jewellery piece every bride should own?
Tarang: It should be a piece which she doesn’t already have. I always try to encourage brides to move away from conventional pieces and go for unique items such as hathphools, maang tikas, or chottis (a long hair piece). I want brides to wear something that has not been done before.
What are some recent trends in bridal jewellery you have seen emerging in the market?
Tarang: The trend is definitely moving towards more polki style jewellery which is simpler, less complicated, less colourful and more versatile, so it can be worn after the wedding.
What are your tips for brides-to-be considering bridal jewellery shopping?
1. Shop for jewellery first: Focus on jewellery first and then your wedding outfits. Jewellery will stay in your family for longer and will be worn by future generations.
2. Take your time: It takes time to find the perfect piece for your wedding day. Trust your jeweller and clothes designer and do not get impatient.
3. Deal directly with your jewellery designer: This is the most important piece of advice because having more filters between you and the ultimate designer distorts your vision and ultimately, the end product.