An eye for art and the art of silver maintenance, are what make Amrapali Jewels founder, Rajiv Arora’s hobby so interesting…
Being a student of history can either make you boring as a sock, or downright interesting. Multi-faceted jeweller Rajiv Arora attributes his passion for collecting rare art to his study of Ancient Indian History; a passion that is now on its way to manifesting itself as a full-blown museum. The museum, dedicated to silver jewellery and art, featuring almost-extinct Indian craftsmanship, is Arora’s pet project right now, and he said, “India has so many religions, castes and tribes, and each of them wears different ornaments for each ritual. I want to pay tribute to this through my museum. It will be of international quality- though it will be small, importance will be given to every aspect, right from visual display and lighting to literature.”
Arora founded Jaipur’s premium luxury jewellery brand, Amrapali Jewels, along with business partner Rajesh Ajmera in 1978, to pursue his interest in art and craft. The brand has since made its name for itself on national and international runways, having also been commissioned by the Government of India to make the gifts that were presented to Bill Clinton on his visit to India, and produced the jewellery used in the movie Troy. “Ajmera and I were graduates of Ancient Indian History and travelled the subcontinent collecting interesting pieces from various tribes and rural set-ups- this laid the foundation for Amrapali Jewels. We started off with a small office in Jaipur and slowly extended our operations to Mumbai, New Delhi, Jodhpur, Bangalore, UK and USA. I guess I have always been enamoured by jewellery- I feel no adornment is complete without jewellery.”
It is this sense of aesthetic that eventually led to the collecting habit. “Anything that is interesting and rare gets me excited- this is what inspired me to gather treasures of excellent craftsmanship,” he said, “My collection now comprises a vast range of items- from nut cutters, tribal silver jewellery and metal craft, to rare textiles and woodwork. India is such a treasure tomb of art; the deeper one explores this domain, the more one gets involved.” Most of Arora’s pieces have been acquired on his trips to remote areas of the country, and counts each of them dear, thanks to pleasant travel memories. On the more unique stars of his collection, he revealed, “I have some exquisite glass paintings, and being fragile, they are difficult to come across, especially in the condition I have maintained them. I also have tribal art from Bastar and Kondh, as well as Banjara textiles.” And then there are the turtle. “One of my friends used to collect turtle souvenirs, and on further digging I found that this animal was popular in all cultures and countries. This fascinated me and I went down the same path – wherever I go, I try to find a turtle memoir, and now have a sizeable turtle collection too.”
And where does he keep all his precious ones? “On the walls of my home, and in our factories and stores, where people can enjoy them, get inspired and learn a thing or two about traditional Indian craftsmanship,” he smiled. What is the maintenance cost like? “Well, silver gets tarnished very quickly, and requires regular cleaning and polishing. If it is gold-plated, even more maintenance is required. The care involved is more than the expenses.”
Arora, who, thanks to his profession and passion, has rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Queen of Bhutan and Calvin Klein, has a host of other passions too- meeting people, visiting museums and art galleries, trying different food, watching sports, listening to music and taking part in social service activities. He is also a Member of Parliament, an ex-tourism minister of Rajasthan State and part of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).