IIJW Debut A Hit in Mumbai

The four-day-long event showcased high-end Indian jewelry designers in fashion-week-style runway shows.

Taking a cue from high-fashion events worldwide—think Mercedes-Benz
Fashion Week—the India International Jewelry Week debuted this week in
Mumbai. Held just prior to the 27th edition of the India International
Jewellery Show 2010
, the IIJW took place from August 15 –
19 at the Grand Hyatt, a luxury hotel and resort fitting for the tony array of high-karat-gold and antique-Indian-style

A full house during IIJW

A full house during IIJW

Organized by a committee working with the Gem &
Jewellery Export Promotion Council
and the IIJS, the IIJW served as the country’s first jewelry week and aimed to promote
India as a place for jewelry design and innovation, and, to chip away at a
reputation as a producer of mass merchandise alone.

Indian-style jewelry from the show

Indian-style jewelry at the show

“The purpose behind this project is to bring Indian
designers to the forefront,” said Haresh Zaveri, co-convener of IIJS and the
head of the committee that organized IIJW. 

Haresh Zaveri, co-convener IIJS, IIJW

Haresh Zaveri, co-convener of IIJS and the head of the
committee that organized IIJW

Some 30 Indian designers—including Amrapali and Zoya by Tanishq—were
selected to participate in four days of seven to eight different daily runway
shows where jewelry, not clothes, served as the main attraction. Traditional
Indian bridal designs, such as Maang Tikka, a jeweled centerpiece worn by the bride in
the center hair part, nose rings, arm bands, and more, adorned scores of
stunning Padma Lakshmi-esque models who glided down the runway in an array of
elegant understated uniforms—loose-fitting black gowns, Saris, and even matte-finished
ball gowns—chosen to serve as muted backdrops for the vibrant,
colored-stone and diamond-studded jewels to pop. One additional slot each
morning even gave budding designers a shot at exposure, according to Zaveri,
who also maintains that future IIJW venues would include some international
jewelry designers.

Amrapali show during IIJW

Models on the runway during the Amrapali show.

“The Indian government challenged us to do something out of
the box, and we have done so in IIJW,” said a proud Vasant Mehta, GJEPC
chairman, at a post-event press conference. “If you have enjoyed what you have
seen in the last four days here, please go out and tell the world that India
has arrived.”

Surana Dolphin piece in diamonds

Dolphin-inspired piece by Laksh Pahuja

Had many international guests not consciously made the
multiple-hour journey to Mumbai, the event itself could have easily taken place
in Paris or some other exclusive locale. Throngs
of visitors huddled together on bleacher-style seats, craning their necks to
glimpse the jewels, while—just like at Bryant Park—A-listers like England’s
Stephen Webster and Indian socialites sat front and center for the best views.  Runway shows were professionally
choreographed, and the Indian press—from lifestyle magazines in New Delhi to
celebrity rags and serious newspapers alike—were present in force to document
the occasion. Show highlights did not disappoint, as appearances from Bollywood
celebrities, Indian musicians, and bubbly Hindu versions of Tinsley Mortimer
provided ample material for both pictures and print. Meanwhile, the true stars
of the shows, the jewelry designers, gracefully showed face (just like the big
guns in clothes: Michael Kors and Diane Von Furstenberg) at the end of each
presentation, offering the bashful smiles and awkward thanks of those not
accustomed to the limelight.

Zoya by Tanishq

A model on the runway during the Zoya by Tanishq show.

“The perception of India for the past 15 years is that it
sells only middle-market jewelry,” said Mehta. “But, India imports 700 tons of
gold each year, and 11 out of 12 diamonds in the world are cut in India; India is making fashion jewelry.”

Some two years ago, the GJEPC considered hosting an
international fashion week, complete with couture clothing designers and
jewelry. But, many speculated that the clothes would obscure the jewels, so the
group shelved the idea until the right one came along: IIJW. Still, maintains,
Mehta, in 2 – 3 more years’ time, “India will be ready for that.”

Indian singers the Nigams

Indian singers and brother and sister, Sonu Nigam and Nikita Nigam

According to the GJEPC, some 1,500 persons from 23 countries
pre-registered for IIJW and IIJS; figures on walk-ins were not yet available. More
than 150 national and international (including Japanese and Russian) members of
the press attended.

Swarovski display

Swarovski was a sponsor of IIJW

Besides sponsors like Platinum Guild International, buyers
from Poland and the U.S., and kudos from fellow show affiliates and
international designers—Cristina Salvi, Fiera di Vicenza, and Elisabetta
Molina, Garavelli, Mehta offered one final observation about
India’s imminent entrée into the realm of the jewelry elite: “If the customer comes back
and the product doesn’t, then India is doing quality work.”

The Amrapali design team joins models on stage after the show.

The Amrapali design team joins models on stage after the show.

Next up: the IIJS 2010, also organized by the GJEPC, which takes
place from August 19 – 23 at the NSE Grounds, Goregaon, Mumbai.