Shobha Shringar, a designer jewellery boutique, in Walkeshwar, Mumbai, began as a small venture by Shobhana Choksey, who sold pearls and silver jewellery from her home. Today, the boutique is a hot spot for modern heirloom pieces with twists and tweaks of present-day patterns. Gold, diamonds, and coloured gems come together to form enticing pieces of wearable art. The eclectic and ethnic collections reflect styles that have timeless appeal. The jewellery house prides itself in gently guiding its customers with love and patience into buying what suits them.
Shobhana’s son and business partner, SNEHAL CHOKSEY, has taken the boutique many steps ahead and presents India’s jewellery heritage for his discerning customers. “We see ourselves as preservers of India’s jewellery heritage and this spirit is reflected in our designs,” notes Snehal. His wife Nisha looks after the design department and his mother, who is today over 70 years of age, infuses passion into her business and attends to clients from various walks of life.
Snehal Choksey gives trend directions for bridal jewellery this season in a free-wheeling conversation with SHANOO BIJLANI.
Could you tell us what is ticking in the bridal segment?
Indian jewellers have to stick to a rule of thumb especially for the important bridal segment. Almost 70% of jewellery sales are driven because of the great Indian weddings. Thus it is imperative that we stay tuned in to the needs of a modern bride.
For the wedding, most brides stick to basic, traditional jewellery. Yes, they want a contemporary tweak in the designs, fusion of various north and south elements, but they still like the template to remain traditional.
Yet, when it comes to the wedding reception and various peripheral functions and celebrations related to the wedding, brides prefer to go bold with diamond jewellery with the inclusion of precious gemstones, or they opt for dazzling polki sets.
But one doesn’t get to wear traditional jewellery on a daily basis. So, is it true that once the wedding is over, the jewellery gets locked up in a treasure chest?
Not at all, the trick lies in making it wearable and barring a few pieces, we make modular jewellery. In this segment, the piece has to be versatile and depending on the design, we give our customers several options to wear the piece differently. Today’s woman is educated and well travelled, and asserts her choice while selecting her wedding jewellery. Brides-to-be prefer to wear elegant and classy occasion- based jewellery with a high design quotient. So, getting options for wearing the same jewellery in which they have invested heavily gives them value for money.
Which jewellery crafts are generally being favoured in the bridal section?
There is a wide spectrum of old jewellery art forms like the temple motifs and filigreed detailing of nature, naqashi work, the use of old inscribed coins that are in demand. These forms are created with various gold textures, coloured stones and real Basra pearls. For weddings, brides want jewellery with antique-finish. Women love just a hint of colour in the form of enamelling and gemstones in the jewellery.
We are a jewellery boutique and a major part of our business is to make unique designer pieces. We craft one-off pieces and the material used in these ornaments such as colour stones, pearls or carved coral may not be replicable. This, in turn, lends exclusivity to the piece. We pamper our customers with this unique experience.
My mother Shobhana Choksey, the founder of Shobha Shringar, has sustained the trend she began of giving personalised attention to clients. She ably guides them on their purchase decisions, too. These important principles have been inculcated into me and more so into the entire team of Shobha Shringar. The motive for each sale is to enhance the personality of the client.
There are times when a bride-to-be picks out an expensive piece, but we dissuade her from doing so if we think the jewellery piece doesn’t suit her. We would rather sacrifice a sale than misguide our customer.
The intention is to give something unique to tickle the aesthetic taste buds of the consumer. i see myself as a revivalist and travel abroad extensively and to various parts of India to procure jewellery with different regional flavours.
What are the categories that are fast moving in the gold segement?
Oh, there are plenty. Borla necklaces (torques with large circular pendants), maang tikas (forehead ornaments), bazubands (arm bands), haath phools (wrist-cum-hand ornaments) and cummerbunds are rocking.
I have observed that large gold chokers, almost like bibs, are the favourites of today’s brides. The fulsome look of the singular piece is enough to make the bride look dressy.
Chand baalis with or without jhumkis are a rage. Bazubands have made a great comeback. We sell one bazuband per day in our boutique! In our small wholesale segment, we are seeing the demand for bazubands mainly from the southern region.
Temple motifs teamed with filigree and naqashi work are finding traction. Navratna (nine-stone) jewellery is another category whose popularity never diminishes. That’s because it complements a bride’s attire perfectly.
Besides diamond solitaires, emeralds score high, followed by rubies. I have a weakness for corals and we sell a lot of jewellery with coral in it.
On a side note, we even sell minaudières decorated with antique motifs for brides.
In diamond jewellery, what is selling well?
I would say women today prefer classic or Victorian pieces in diamonds. Diamond jewellery designs that fly off the shelves are the ones that show less of precious metal and more of large diamonds – either in the form of solitaires or special settings that congregate several diamonds to make them look like one large diamond.
Lace-like and openwork patterns are our bestsellers. Designs showcasing diamond clusters are also moving well. Again, for this segment, one has to work on ornaments that bring together the traditional and modern templates. This is specially so because jewellery is for keeps, and therefore, it has to have a certain timelessness about it. The elegance of a design is always in its simplicity.