When dressing for a South Asian wedding or formal event, my accessories options are limited. I have a few pieces of costume jewelry picked up on trips to India and some western jewelry that pairs well with ethnic attire. As a single Indian-American woman, I don’t have much high end jewelry to choose from. (Usually precious sets of jewelry are part of a South Asian bride’s trousseau.) So I am always on the lookout for well made traditional Indian jewelry. That is why I wanted to share Art Karat jewelry with you featuring precious and semi-precious jewelry, including options that won’t break the bank.
Designer Asha Kamal Modi founded the company Art Karat Group with her husband Kamal in 1986. Starting with a small boutique in New Delhi with just 2 craftsmen, the couple now manages workshops around India employed with over 500 craftsmen. Art Karat jewelry is made on silver and studded with precious and/or semi-precious gemstones. Each piece makes a statement. Popular in Bollywood, Kamal’s jewelry has been featured in top films like Devdas, Monsoon Wedding and Zubeida. Learn how Mrs. Modi, an award-winning gemologist, has channeled her passion for making beautiful Indian jewelry into an internationally renowned brand.
How does Art Karat stand out amid such a saturated market for semi-precious traditional jewelry?
Art Karat is undoubtedly the market leader of the semi-precious jewelry industry. We single handedly pioneered the concept of designer semi-precious jewelry in India.
Art Karat is still the only semi-precious jewelry brand where all the jewelry is made on silver studded only with precious gemstones. Each Art Karat piece is a work of art. We do not mass manufacture. We always create very limited pieces of each design. And we work really hard on each piece to ensure it is different from the others.
Every industry in today’s time is saturated be it phones, fashion, shoes etc. But there are always market leaders who inspire us, who constantly innovate to set new trends and always strive to excel. It is these qualities that set apart Art Karat from the rest.
Some of your collections often feature hundreds of designs each. How long does it take for you to create a new collection?
It takes almost 6 months to create a complete collection, although the thought behind each collection and the research goes on for years. Our collections such as NIZAM, BEGUM, and RAJWADA were almost 5 years in the making. It was imperative for us to find the right craftsmen and elements to put them together.
You have designed jewelry pieces for major blockbusters in Indian cinema. What are some of the most important things as a jewelry designer to consider for the silver screen?
The most important thing that guides us is the vision of the director. Like any creative person, a director knows what they are looking for and our jewelry must relate to the period and costumes he or she is trying to depict in the film. The color schemes being used in the background and the contrasts our jewelry can create to accentuate the entire frame are extremely important.
What person in your life has had the greatest impact on your success and how?
My husband. He is the driving force behind me. Thirty years ago, he envisioned a line of jewelry on silver so beautiful that people would let go of their irrational obsession with gold. Now the semi-precious jewelry market has grown into a full industry.
Art Karat has become a family business with your husband and children taking on major roles. How do you ensure that boundaries remain between family time and business time?
We as a family live and breathe Art Karat. For us Art Karat is not just a business. It is a way of life. There is no differentiation between family and business time.
What advice can you give budding jewelry designers on growing a business in this modern era?
Be passionate. Success comes to those who believe in it the most and the longest.
How has the landscape of Indian jewelry changed in the past 30 years since you began Art Karat? And where do you see it going in the future?
The major change that we notice is the acceptability of the product itself. As people get more educated and women become independent, they accept semi-precious jewelry as a part of their life and have let go of their obsession with gold jewelry.
Where can people shop Art Karat jewelry in the US and Canada?
We do more that 50 exhibitions in the US and Canada and people can shop at www.artkarat.com online.