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Jeweller Shreyans Gandhi Showcases His Family’s Business Legacy

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Jeena J Billimoria

With enchanting tales of 184-carat diamonds and the pursuit of the perfect ostrich plume to model the Nizam of Hyderabad’s necklace, jeweller Shreyans Gandhi showcases his family’s enduring business legacy and its commitment to excellence.

In the 19th century lived a man named Jehangir Gazdar, renowned for his dealings in rare artifacts. He journeyed around the globe in search of exquisite pieces of art, curating an impressive collection to auction, among which were a rare bronze ibex (a type of wild mountain goat) figure, a bronze incense burner and a bronze bull, dating back thousands of years. Notably, the bronze ibex found its way to the American Art Association] — Anderson Galleries (eventually taken over by Sotheby’s) in New York in 1933.

Jehangir’s sons, Dinshah and Rustom, aspired to his follow in his footsteps. After an introduction from Hyderabad’s Salar Jung family, they received comprehensive goldsmith training at Cartier in Paris, enabling them to establish Gazdar Jewels and Works of Art at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace in 1933.

In the 1970s, Dharmendra Gandhi, the current chairman, began working with Gazdar as a partner. The two shared a strong bond, with Dharmendra considering Gazdar “a father figure, mentor and role model.” In 1990, the Gandhis took over the brand, with Gazdar seeing in his protégé the same passion he had developed. Dharmendra Gandhi passed down his wealth of knowledge and expertise to his son Ravin and grandson Shreyans, who is currently the creative director of Gazdar.

“My grandfather taught me that setting gemstones requires a meticulous approach, where the focus is on enhancing the gemstone’s brilliance and minimising the presence of metal,” says Shreyans, who studied in the US and undertook internships in Jaipur and Mumbai to gain a deeper understanding of the trade. Evaluating gemstones under different lighting conditions and achieving perfection in the gold mount were valuable lessons ingrained in him.

In an interview marking Gazdar’s 90th year, Shreyans reflects on its enduring legacy for HELLO!

HELLO!: Gazdar has had a distinguished clientele of legacy wealth holders. Could you tell us about some of your most prestigious patrons?

Shreyans Gandhi: “Gazdar is known for keeping some of the finest pieces of jewels, thereby attracting all the major royal families of India such as Bikaner, Kashmir, Nawanagar [Jamnagar], Baroda, Gwalior and Patiala. However, one of our most significant relationships has been with the illustrious Nizam of Hyderabad.

In 1978 [following the abolition of the privy purses], the Nizam’s Jewellery Trust organised an international auction that attracted renowned buyers like Harry Winston, Bulgari and Rosenthal. My grandfather, Dharmendra Gandhi, had the privilege of appraising the remarkable pieces to be sold in his capacity as a trusted advisor to the Nizam Jewellery Trust.

I recall him telling me about his first interaction with Prince Mukarram Jah, the titular Nizam of Hyderabad. The family’s collection surpassed anything he’d ever seen before. One diamond stood out as the most unique and brilliant gem: the 184-carat Jacob Diamond. To this day, nothing compares to the mesmerising beauty of that extraordinary stone. The collection also boasted of numerous rare emeralds and exquisitely-crafted enamelled jewels.

The auction was eventually cancelled and in 1995, the government decided to purchase these invaluable pieces [to preserve India’s national treasures].

H!: Can you share any stories passed down about extravagant displays of wealth among the people during that time?

SG: “A fascinating story that my father shared with me dates back to the early 20th century, when the Nizam of Hyderabad visited Gazdar with the feather of an ostrich and expressed his desire to fashion a necklace in a style inspired by it. To meet this extraordinary request, our dedicated team embarked on a quest for the perfect feather. They scoured poultry farms, leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of an ostrich plume that would match the Nizam’s vision.

After an exhaustive search, the team’s diligence was rewarded when they finally chanced upon the ideal feather, with just the right shape and grace. The necklace, crafted with painstaking attention to the feather’s intricate design, became a testament to Gazdar’s commitment to excellence.”

H!: Can you elaborate on some of the milestones?

SG: “A very significant moment was in 1961, when Queen Elizabeth II had come to India on a state visit. During her stay, she met with Indian leaders and undertook various engagements. In her honour, an exclusive fashion show was organised, where we proudly showcased our exquisite jewels.

In recent times, our creations have garnered global acclaim, gracing renowned auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Heritage, Bonhams, Saffronart, AstaGuru and many more. Noteworthy achievements include two extraordinary masterpieces: a one-of-a-kind sapphire-and-diamond-encrusted brooch at Christie’s in 2006, and a ruby-and-diamond adorned wristwatch bracelet, crafted in a captivating honeycomb structure, auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2016.”

H!: How do you stay relevant and move with the times?

SG: “In our relentless pursuit of perfection, we recognise the necessity of embracing evolving technology while preserving the timeless artistry that defines us. To elevate the jewellery-making process, we have incorporated cutting-edge technologies such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM). While embracing these technological advancements, we remain committed to preserving the sanctity of craftsmanship and the critical phases of polishing the gold mount and gemstone setting are meticulously handled by our skilled artisans and setters.”

H!: What’s the most intricate and challenging collection Gazdar has ever undertaken in recent years?

SG: “This year, Gazdar marked its 90th anniversary with a special two-day event at the Taj Mahal Palace. We unveiled a collection called ‘NINE’, a limited series of nine extraordinary pieces, which not only commemorated Gazdar’s glorious decades but also held deep significance, as the number is considered highly auspicious. Each creation showcases meticulously selected diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls, emphasising unparalleled beauty and quality.”

H!: Lastly, as you and your family lead the business today and serve as its custodians, what are your hopes for its future?

SG: “My immediate aspiration is the prospect of celebrating a century of Gazdar’s legacy, coming up a decade from now. However, beyond this significant milestone, I aspire to persist in the delightful pursuit of uncovering rare gemstones and vintage pieces from every corner of the globe. These treasures are not just precious stones and jewellery but pieces of history, culture and art waiting to be revealed. My ultimate joy is sharing these exceptional finds with passionate collectors who appreciate the unique stories each piece carries.”

This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s December 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!