When I reached ace jewellery designer Riddhi Doshi’s plush office-cum-residence at her Nepean Sea Road apartment in Mumbai, I was told that Riddhi was just wrapping up her kathak dance class with her private tutor.
I was ushered into a tastefully done up office that was bathed in grey overtones – the richly upholstered sofas, a large grey desk, a glass cupboard for showcasing jewellery, and a side wall adorned with posters of models wearing her jewellery. (I learnt later that the interiors were designed by her.)
Five minutes later, Riddhi entered the room, greeted me warmly and we settled down for the interview without any further delay. Conversing with her felt like we had known each other for many years – her demeanour is friendly and she instantly makes you feel comfortable. For a designer who specialises in the bespoke genre, it’s a prerequisite characteristic.
A multi-tasker, Riddhi balances the act of being a hands-on parent and a jewellery designer. She also squeezes in time for learning various forms of dance, travelling and scuba-diving. Just as she is fiercely protective of her two children, Saira and Nirvaan, she is equally vigilant about the craftsmanship and quality of her jewellery.
Displaying a remarkable equanimity in a world full of competitiveness, Riddhi chooses to work at her own pace, with her dictates. She is her own master, and doesn’t believe in the rat race.
“We are Palanpuris and diamonds are in our blood. My granddad was a diamond merchant and so were my uncles,” says Riddhi. The love for diamonds was naturally acquired, but the early signs of her artistic abilities showed up during her childhood. She was good at sketching and regularly took part in school art programmes. “Even today, sketching gets me into a meditative mode,” she reveals. “I am good with my hands.”
So transitioning into the world of jewellery was a natural one for Riddhi. The canvas or the material she would work with was already there, but her creative bent of mind helped her easily make the choice. “The fact that one can create something so beautiful out of diamonds excited me,” she exclaims.
After her graduation in jewellery designing from SNDT, Juhu, Mumbai, Riddhi worked with Tanishq in Bengaluru, and the three years she spent there were rewarding. “The then CEO Jacob Kurien was the best mentor one could have. He helped me unleash my creativity,” she remembers.
Next, Riddhi joined Dimexon Eurostar Jewelry, a high-end diamond jewellery manufacturing company, in Mumbai. This stint gave her a more hands-on experience as she dealt with various aspects of jewellery making – from conceptualising to manufacturing, quality control and more.
In 2004, she quit her job to be full-time with her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. The year went by, and it was here that she met her future husband, an investment banker who worked in Wall Street. They married after six months of courtship and moved to New York. Riddhi, who loves to follow fashion, enrolled herself for a short course in Fashion Institute of Technology, NY.
A year later, the two were back in Mumbai. Riddhi joined Percept, an event management company. “I had the ability to communicate and organise, and while there it was a great experience to be associated with the Sunburn festival. But I realised early on that I was not cut out for the job.” Soon, a wedding in the family led her to design jewellery for the bride. Her mother-in-law encouraged her to go ahead. Riddhi’s designs were an instant hit and that is when she decided to start her own brand.
It has been a satisfying ten-year-long journey for Riddhi, who has carved a niche for herself as a bespoke designer. For her, it is sacrosanct to be unlike any other designer. “Each piece of jewellery has to be different because ultimately, it has to speak to you… you have to own that piece.”
Never one to participate in jewellery exhibitions, Riddhi believes in holding solo shows. “I don’t want to be lost in the crowd. This is me – subtle yet impactful.”
Not one to follow norms, her jewellery is atypical, almost always set with diamonds (most of them sourced from her younger brother, who is an integral part of the diamond industry in Hong Kong), while emeralds and pearls are used as accents.
Her pieces blend vintage and modern elements, and are patterned with pear, cushion, marquise, oval, emerald and rosecut diamonds. “I find it exciting to put the shapes together.”
Riddhi is strong on client servicing and believes in one-onone interactions – a trait that has worked in her favour as a bespoke designer. “I love interacting with clients. As a designer, you have to look for stories, and instil confidence in your clients to trust your design instincts. I usually sit with them for several sessions and design jewellery based on their ideas or outfits. I also observe the customer’s body language, how she moves her hands, her neck, and the shape of her face,” she says.
Since commissioned jewellery takes time, many clients come to her in advance. Riddhi recalls an instance of a client who got in touch with her for bridal jewellery even before she could find a groom for herself.
“This client came to me determined that she would get married in a year’s time, and she commissioned me to design diamond suites for the wedding, cocktail and other functions even before she could find a partner. I would have sessions with her till midnight to get to know her requirements and taste. She did get married within the time period she had given herself. She was a happy bride, who was already organised with her accessories,” Riddhi smiles.
Riddhi likes her customers to come to her with a vision or an idea. “I like to listen to client’s perspective and then all I do is clean up the rough edges to create a wow factor.” Riddhi believes that style has to be individualistic; style is also all about comfort and confidence. “Jewellery is an intimate piece of art and the entire process from start to finish is important for me. I have to know how often the client is going to wear the piece; is it just occasion-based or is she going to wear it daily? Accordingly, pricing becomes relevant. It is a balancing act where price points, too, play an important role.”
Riddhi is famous for making modular jewellery as she thinks that no woman should keep jewels in the safe. Jewels are meant to be worn, not to be hidden. Currently, she is immersed in designing multiple bespoke suites for an important client, a close relative of the mega business family, which is busy preparing for the upcoming wedding of its scion.
Speaking about trend directions, Riddhi notices that youngsters today like fun jewellery – playful, lightweight and not over the top. Personally, though, Riddhi likes jewellery that makes a statement.
How would she describe success? “Jewellery is all about word of mouth. I don’t think people just go out and buy jewellery from anywhere. Every piece has its own story – the client’s interpretation, my take, the crafts involved, the gems set in, the sentiments behind the piece, the occasion for which it is being made. I am in no hurry to gain recognition. I don’t export my jewellery. I am in a space where I love doing what I do.”
Any plans for the future? “I have two young children and I don’t want to spend time away from them. When the kids get a little older and become independent, I will get into a bigger space, and perhaps have a boutique of my own.”
Riddhi has a holistic approach to arts. She loves dance and has explored several forms – from kathak to salsa. Dance is one of the best ways of expressing oneself, she believes. She loves visiting the fashion capitals of the world because she feels every person should be well turned out and presentable.
Reluctant at first, she nevertheless enrolled for scuba-diving sessions at the insistence of her husband, but today whenever she needs to escape from the clutter and chaos of the world, she goes into the depths of the ocean to rejuvenate herself. Going on safaris, travelling and experiencing different cultures are among her other hobbies. “I believe enriching yourself builds your creativity,” she signs off.