Mumbai-based designer, Gunjan Bhandari, graduated as a chemical engineer before deciding that jewellery was her calling. Her husband opened her eyes to the world of jewellery as a business, and since then Gunjan has never looked back.
Her fine jewellery line presents extravagant and opulent designs carved from the finest 18kt golds and laden with fancy cut diamonds and semi-precious gemstones. Romantic yet extravagant, her designs are to be cherished for decades, before being passed down through generations. We chat with Gunjan about her journey.
Have you always wanted to be a jewellery designer?
“Honestly, it all just happened to me by chance. I never planned to be a designer, but some things are just meant to be. And that is how it was for me. In fact, I would say that everything that has happened in my life was directly or indirectly driving me towards where I am today. I just kept following the subtle messages that I received, until I suddenly realised it was diamonds. As much as I work with diamonds, they work with me. It’s an equal love affair from both ends with immense divine support.”
How has your childhood influenced you as a designer?
“I grew up in a Christian school with 1000 other students from all parts of the world, so as a child, I was exposed to different cultures and traditions. One thing that I learnt during my childhood was to develop a survival instinct and cope in all circumstances. I was often refused a certain amount of luxury even though my parents could afford it, the reason being to teach me tricks to survival. My father felt it was easy to live in luxury but he wanted to teach his children the art of living without it. I’m very grateful to my parents for bringing me up the way they did. If it weren’t for them, it would have been difficult for me to make it so far.”
"As much as I work with diamonds, they work with me. It’s an equal love affair from both ends with immense divine support."
How did you get into the jewellery industry?
“I married a jewellery retailer from the eastern part of my country and that was when I was first introduced to jewellery as a business. Initially, I started working for my husband to be, by merchandising for his retail outlet and then went on to take care of the store operations and design consultation for customers. In October 2013 I travelled to the south to pursue a course in jewellery design. I remember my teacher said on the orientation day to all the students that if we give her our commitment for the next couple of months, she ensures to change our life. That day I made up my mind to give her my 100%.”
What drove you to start your own line of jewellery?
“My passion to learn and grow is a key factor behind me starting my own jewellery line. I like to take ownership of my work. I like to dive deep into every stage of the piece’s journey and fine tune it as much as possible before moving forward. This kind of involvement is only possible when you have your own product line. Hence why I started my own jewellery line.”
"I like to take ownership of my work. I like to dive deep into every stage of the piece’s journey."
Values are really important us at Jewelstreet. What are your core brand values?
“I come from a family where I’ve always seen my parents making fair decisions. My father taught us to support what is right. Unlike a lot of Indian families, we were always given the leverage to have very open conversations with our parents about almost anything. Every time I went to him asking for advice on any matter, he would simply show me two sides of the coin for that situation and then let me choose what I want to pick. There’s always been immense respect for one’s individuality, which I have carried with me and into my jewellery.”
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
“I get the best ideas in my sleep, and I do some of my best work when I am not prepared for it at all. I believe, everything around me inspires me to design. It’s as though the whole universe is participating along with me in my work. Life itself inspires my work and I feel I’m born to do what I’m doing.”
"I get the best ideas in my sleep, and I do some of my best work when I am not prepared for it at all."
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your designs?
“I want them to feel themselves whilst wearing my jewellery. This is why not every design of mine will be liked by everyone. I always try to create a variation in my designs so that every client can find something to suit their own individual personality.”
"This anklet means more than any other piece of jewellery to me, even more than my wedding ring."
Tell us the story of the most meaningful piece of jewellery you have ever received?
“An anklet in 22kt yellow gold that was gifted to me by my husband, my love of my life, for Valentine’s Day a couple of years back. In India, it’s not considered a very good thing to wear gold on your feet because historically only royal women were supposed to wear them. But when my husband gifted this to me, he said that he always wants me live in royalty and that really touched my heart. This anklet means more than any other piece of jewellery to me, even more than my wedding ring.”
What drives you to keep creating new and exciting designs?
“I believe there’s always scope for improvement, and learning and growing is an ongoing process. The more you learn, the more you grow and when you grow there is always more to learn. This is a driving force behind my work. I always want to improve my work at every stage.”