Vardhaman Gems

Centuries Old Tradition of Excellence in Gems and Jewelry

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Blogs of Jyoti Kothari

Posted by Jyoti Kothari on August 12, 2009 at 6:44 PM Comments comments (0)

Gems and Jewelry blogs:

Gem and Jewelry Portal

Vardhaman Gems

Kundan Jadau Hyderabad

Social and religious blogs:

Gulabi Nagar Vichar Manch

Azimganj-Jiaganj-murshidabad 

Johari Sath

Paryushan (Jainism)

Education blogs:

Artificial Intellegence

Business Finance and Management

Jyoti Articles

Jyoti Kothari

 


Blogs of Jyoti Kothari

Posted by Jyoti Kothari on August 12, 2009 at 6:44 PM Comments comments (0)

Gems and Jewelry blogs:

Gem and Jewelry Portal

Vardhaman Gems

Kundan Jadau Hyderabad

Social and religious blogs:

Gulabi Nagar Vichar Manch

Azimganj-Jiaganj-murshidabad 

Johari Sath

Paryushan (Jainism)

Education blogs:

Artificial Intellegence

Business Finance and Management

Jyoti Articles

Jyoti Kothari

 


Johari Sath, Jewelers community of Kolkata

Posted by vardhamangems on August 6, 2009 at 5:59 PM Comments comments (1)

*

 Kolkata was established as a major Indian city in 19th century. Later on it became Capital of

British India. Many Jain Jewelers migrated from Lucknow, Delhi, Agra, Varanasi etc. came

and started their Gems and Jewelry business In Kolkata (Calcutta). Most of them were Shrimal Jain and some Oswal Jain. These community was called Johari Sath, the oldest Jain community migrated to Kolkata. Main residential districts of this community were Beadon street and Harrison road.

Thanks,

Jyoti Kothari

Emerald: Fascinating Gemstone

Posted by Jyoti Kothari on July 25, 2009 at 5:39 PM Comments comments (0)


Emeralds are fascinating Gemstones. Fine quality emeralds are even costlier than diamonds. It is a beryl group gemstone and belongs to Navaratna family.


In India astrologers prescribe it for planet Marsh. It has medical properties also.


Go to Home Page

Some less known benefits of Mobile phone

Posted by Jyoti Kothari on March 28, 2009 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

-: VERY  USEFUL & INTERESTING FACTS about your mobile... :-

Very very informative mail for you, please don't forget to forward.

Would you like to know if your mobile is original or not ?????


Press the following on your mobile
*#06# and the-international mobile equipment identity number appears. Then check the 7th and 8th numbers:


 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone serial no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








IF the Seventh & Eighth digits are
02 or 20 this means your cell phone was assembled in Emirates which is very Bad quality

IF the Seventh & Eighth digits are
08 or 80 this means your cell phone was manufactured in Germany which is fair quality

IF the Seventh & Eighth digits are
01 or 10 this means your cell phone was manufactured in Finland which is very Good

IF the Seventh & Eighth digits are 00 this means your cell phone was manufactured in original factory which is the best Mobile Quality

IF the Seventh & Eighth digits are 13 this means your cell phone was assembled in Azerbaijan which is very Bad quality and also dangerous for your health

THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW YOUR CELL PHONE COULD DO


There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies..

Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an  emergency tool for
survival. Check out the things that you can do with it: -




(1 )


EMERGENCY


*
The Emergency Number worldwide for **Mobile** is 112 ..* If you find
yourself out of coverage area of your mobile network and there is an
emergency, dial
112 and the mobile will search any existing network to
establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.
**Try it out.**
(2)


Have you locked your keys in the car? Does you car have remote keys?

This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone:
If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call
someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone.
Hold your cell phone about a   foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock.

Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other 'remote' for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).
Editor's Note:
*It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!'*
(3)


Hidden Battery power

Imagine your cell battery is
very low , you are expecting an important call
and you don't have a charger. Nokia instrument comes with a reserve
battery.
To activate, press the keys
*3370# Your cell will restart with
this reserve and the instrument will show a
50% increase in battery. This
reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.
AND

(4 )

How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?





To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone:

* # 0 6 #

A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. when your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.
You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.


Please spread this useful information around 
  

Posted by vardhamangems on March 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM Comments comments (0)

More and more visitors are interested in Kundan Meena Jadau Jewelry. They want to know more about these trendy, fashionable, artistic Indian Royal jewelry. looking into public interest we have created a new website dedicated to Kundan Jadau Meena  Jewelry.


We have added some materials in the website and are in process of adding huge materials, images and videos about Kundan Meena Jadau ornaments.


We welcome you and your contribution in the same.


Site address Kundan Jadau Meena


Vardhaman Gems

Researching the Emerald city - First Impressions

Posted by vardhamangems on February 28, 2009 at 5:04 PM Comments comments (7)





Prof.  Alan Babb and Jyoti Kothari discussing Gemstone business in Jaipur




Researching the Emerald City—First Impressions

 

By

Prof. Lawrence A. Babb

 

Amherst College

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

Since August 2005, I have been engaged in a research project on the social history of Jaipur’s gemstone industry, and I have been requested to share some of my first impressions as a social scientist and outsider, giving special attention to emeralds.  It is an honor to be asked to do this, and a special pleasure to comply. 

 

I should say something about the circumstances of my project.  I was already familiar with Jaipur when I began my gemstone work because I had done quite a lot of research in the city over the years since 1990.  My original work in Jaipur dealt with Jainism and, at a later stage, with the social identity of the business communities of Rajasthan.  This meant that by the time I turned my attention to the gemstone business I had friends and acquaintances in the trade and had already seen something of the way the business works out of the corner of my eye.  What little I had seen suggested that this was a business with a rich history and many intriguing aspects, and this is what inspired my current research. 

 

            I have learned a lot about emeralds in the course of my work thus far, and they will the focus of much that follows here.  Indeed, it would not be possible to write about Jaipur’s modern lapidary industry without giving special emphasis to this singularly magnificent stone.  It is certainly true that other stones have played major roles in the evolution of this industry, and this is doubtless truer nowadays than ever before.  But from a historical standpoint, emeralds have been its foundation, and for this reason emeralds were at the foreground of my research from the start.  I must add that this added a great deal to the romantic appeal of what I was studying.  Emeralds are objects of great beauty, a fact of which my appreciation grew ever deeper as time went on, and it has been a real pleasure to learn about the manufacturing and commercial processes by which these gems are made and marketed.  Jaipur enjoys the sobriquet of the Pink City.  To me, however, Jaipur will always be the Emerald City (with apologies to L. Frank Baum).

 

            The research strategy I adopted for my study was that of collecting oral histories of family firms, most of which—as it turned out—were in the emerald business.  Family firms have been the basic organizational unit of this industry from its earliest beginnings, although this pattern may be on the verge of change today.  The emphasis on oral history was necessary because little of the trade’s history is preserved in written records.  I have to admit that the oral-history approach has had its weaknesses as well as strengths.  On the weakness side of the ledger are the inherent fallibility of human memory and memory’s tendency to filter the past.  On the plus side, however, is the fact that that it is in the nature of oral-historical interviews to wander from the straight and narrow, with the result that my interviewees have given me a broad education concerning almost every aspect of the business, past and present. 

 

I would like to add that doing the research has been a particularly pleasant experience for me.  In the course of my one-on-one inquiries, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most interesting people I have ever encountered, and I have also made many new friends.  Few doors have been closed to me, and because of the generous response to my investigation throughout Jaipur’s jewellery community, I feel that my research has been extremely fruitful.  

 

To this I would like to add a special word of thanks to Mr. Rashmikant Durlabhji, who encouraged me to write this article and who has given me his time and wisdom in generous measure as I have pursued my research.

 

  Because I began my research only last year and there remains much investigation to do, I must frankly state that what I have to say consists of preliminary impressions, not firm conclusions.  But if they are only impressions and “subject to correction,” I think they nevertheless encapsulate important features of Jaipur’s famous gemstone business—features that will be familiar to Jaipur insiders, but are quite striking to an outside observer.  As I began to learn more about the business, what impressed me most of all was what seemed to be a complex and even paradoxical relationship between the industry and “tradition,” which is the theme of this article.  My main point is that this is not really a traditional industry—it is, in fact, very much a product of the modern era—but that there is also much tradition in the way it is actually structured and conducted.  It is also currently an industry on the threshold of truly momentous changes. 

 

 

 

A BREAK WITH THE PAST

 

            When visitors to Jaipur first encounter the city’s lapidary industry, they are likely to come away with the impression that there is something hoary and ancient about it.  This, the observer is likely to conclude, must be a deeply traditional industry.  And why not?  Much of the industry is situated in old-style establishments in Johari Bazar, an area of the city that has been devoted to the jewellery business since the city’s inception in 1727.  And although modern factories are increasingly taking over the burden of production, a significant proportion of stones are still cut and polished using hand-powered tools in small operations in the inner byways of the old walled city.  But if the industry gives the impression that it is deep-rooted in antiquity and hallowed by tradition, a historical view presents a very different picture.  As it turns out, even if it can be considered traditional in important ways, the export-oriented lapidary industry—the industry for which Jaipur became famous—was a radical departure from the past when it first came into being, and this occurred surprisingly recently.  But this requires explanation.

 

 

The Cosmopolitan Emerald

 

A good starting point would be the emerald itself, which has been at the core of the business over most of its existence.  One must realize that the emerald is not and has never been (except perhaps at the margins) an Indian stone, strictly speaking.  Emeralds have certainly been on the scene in India from ancient times, and highly esteemed as well, as attested by the fact that they are mentioned in classical texts.  These ancient stones, however, almost certainly did not originate in India itself.  It is true that there are emerald deposits in Rajasthan, but what evidence we have suggests that these were unexploited before their recorded discovery in 1943.  South Asian sources for Indian emeralds in ancient times cannot be ruled out completely, but Egypt, which was the major source of mined emeralds in antiquity, remains the likelier possibility.  In more recent history, emeralds of Colombian origin emerged into world-wide circulation under the aegis of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, which was arguably the most important event in the history of the emerald as a commodity.  Many of these stones found their way into India and into the treasuries of Indian rulers, especially the Mughals, and also into the workshops of Jaipur jewellers.  But they did not originate in India. 

 

These facts point to a crucial truth about the emerald, which is that there is something profoundly cosmopolitan about this gem.  From antiquity until the present day, its trade and manufacture have been international in character, transcending national boundaries.  This has had a deep impact on the emerald business in India as it evolved in modern times.  Jaipur’s twentieth-century emerald business (and the lapidary industry of which it was the core) can be seen as a late chapter in the story of the emerald’s ancient cosmopolitanism.  The surprise is that it is a very late chapter indeed.

 

 

Jaipur Jewellers in History

 

In turning our attention to Jaipur specifically, we must begin by noting the well-known fact that when Jai Singh founded Jaipur in 1727, he encouraged a great range of merchants and artisans as well as other professional specialists to settle in his new city.  In the turbulent eighteenth century, Jaipur was an excellent place of refuge for well-off traders.  The very situation of Jaipur on an open plain was (as Vibhuti Sachdev and Giles Tillotson point out in their recent Building Jaipur) based on a concept, then very innovative, of a capital city as a physically accessible trading center, open to maximum communications with the outside world, instead of a fortified redoubt.  Free land was available for merchants to build houses, and they were also offered tax concessions.  Jewellers were very prominent among these merchants, and Jai Singh’s high regard for the jewellers of his new city is often spoken of with pride by the city’s jewellery community as part of their shared history.  Some of the jewellers and artisans shifted from Amber, the old capital, but many came from much more distant points, such as Delhi, Agra, and even Banaras.  A few of these original jewellery families (in at least one case, a family that migrated to Amber before Jaipur’s founding) are still present in the city today.

 

They came to a city that was rapidly becoming very affluent, which is an excellent environment in which to conduct a jewellery business.  There were several reasons for the city’s growing prosperity (as A. K. Roy explains in his History of Jaipur City).  Not only were traders a significant proportion of Jaipur’s population, itself a condition highly favorable to the creation of wealth, but a large number of well-off state officials were also resident in the city.  In addition, Jai Singh strongly encouraged the state’s jagirdars to live in the city, and had made arrangement for houses to be built for them, to be paid for in installments.  Also, and of great importance, vital trade routes passed through Jaipur, notably the route from Agra to Gujarat.  Although Jaipur’s subsequent history was to bring economic setbacks as well as growth and progress (indeed, a serious decline in the nineteenth century), the eighteenth century appears to have been a period in which the basic character of the city as a center of economic activity crystallized.

 

There is no question that jewellers were a key factor in the city’s economic life from the very beginning.  This is indicated by the fact that Ram Singh, Jai Singh’s successor, bestowed the name “Johari Bazar” (Jewellers’ Market) on one of the city’s main markets and the name “Manak Chowk” (Ruby Square) on an adjacent square.  We know that by the mid-eighteenth century significant quantities of gold and precious stones (the specific types are not clear) were being traded in and out of the city.  A major activity was probably the reworking of already finished stones.  The scattering of royal treasuries in the turmoil of those days must have put large numbers of already worked gemstones into circulation, and the Jaipur jewellers of the period were undoubtedly engaged in their recutting, resetting, and resale to new owners

 

It is extremely important to realize, however, that the jewellery business of those days bore little resemblance to Jaipur’s twentieth-century lapidary industry.  It was a traditional trade, deeply embedded in the cultural and social institutions of the period.  Largely commercial in character (i.e., not primarily a manufacturing industry), it was oriented toward, and constrained by, limited local or regional markets.  It must be borne in mind that the market for precious gems has been historically quite circumscribed in India, largely confined to the ruling aristocracies and very rich traders.  There was certainly a market for gems amongst the local and regional aristocracy, the royal families and their blue-blooded feudatories in the thikanas.  The presence of jagirdars in Jaipur itself probably also provided a local market, and by the nineteenth century, well-off Marwari traders were becoming a significant consumers of gems as well.  But these markets could never become a foundation for a major lapidary manufacturing industry.

 

 

 

A New Industry

 

Jaipur’s modern lapidary industry emerged in the twentieth century, and it was a fundamentally different kind of business, oriented toward a totally different market.  It was a manufacturing as well as a trading business, and at its core was the emerald.  Its raw materials, most importantly emerald rough, came from abroad, and the finished products were designed for export to Europe, not for local sale.  This meant an accent on producing lighter, faceted gems—a direct response to European tastes—as opposed to the emphasis on massiveness that prevailed in the older craft culture.  This is not to say that there was a complete discontinuity between the old business and the new.  Clearly, the presence of a sizeable jewellery community in Jaipur provided the jewellery and business expertise that made the city an ideal environment for an export-oriented lapidary industry to take root, as did the presence of skilled and experienced artisans.  But this was no longer a traditional jewellery business—it was something entirely new.

 

Unfortunately we do not know very much about how—or even when—it started.  This is an area in which more research is definitely needed.  The 1901 Census of Jaipur State mentions garnet-cutting as a local craft, but says nothing specifically about emeralds.  This suggests that emerald-cutting business probably did not really take off until the early twentieth century.  The reference to garnet-cutting, however, also suggests the possibility that Jaipur lapidaries acquired their expertise at first on garnets, locally abundant, before their turned their talents to emeralds.  One driving force of the new industry must have been the extraordinary rise in gemstone prices—especially emerald prices—that began in the waning years of the nineteenth century and continued more or less until 1929.  Another crucial factor was the availability of reasonably-priced raw materials.  Oral sources suggest that Colombian emerald rough was available to Jaipur manufacturers in the early twentieth century and probably earlier (though how much earlier is unclear).  However, it is likely that a major booster rocket of Jaipur’s emerald industry was the discovery of emerald deposits in South Africa.  Workable deposits were discovered in the Gravelotte district of NE Transvaal in 1927 at what later became known as the Somerset Mine.  The rough was of high quality, and the umbrella of the British Empire made it easy for it to find its way from South Africa to India and Jaipur. 

 

In any case, the point I want to stress is that when considered in the context of Indian history, there is nothing truly old about Jaipur’s lapidary industry, and certainly nothing very traditional about its relationship to the suppliers of its raw materials and the markets to which its products are sent.  It is a historically recent phenomenon, and in its essence very modern.  It drew its raw materials from abroad.  The tastes to which it responded were those of Europeans and the West, which is where it found its principal markets.  In keeping with the cosmopolitan character of the gem that was its foundation—the emerald—it was a notably international business from the very start.  It was, to use Theodore Levitt’s now fashionable expression, “globalized” at birth, and has retained that character ever since.

 

 

 

THE ROLE OF TRADITION

 

But does this mean that there was nothing traditional about the industry?  Hardly.  If by traditional we mean conducted according to patterns and principles rooted in India’s history and culture, then Jaipur’s lapidary industry presents an apparently paradoxical picture in which the modern and the traditional coexist in mutual harmony.  There are many areas in which this is so.  I would like to focus on two in particular: first, the way the industry brings traditionally different social groups together in a single economic system, and second, the way in which the conduct of business is embedded in the way of life of a true community.

 

 

 

Industrial Pluralism  

 

One of the most striking features of Jaipur’s lapidary industry is its social complexity.  As noted earlier, family firms are the basic organizational units of this business.  These firms can be seen as hubs around which a very elaborate division of labor is organized, one that mobilizes an array of very different social groups, each with its own customs and characteristics.  The result is a genuine social and cultural mosaic.

 

At the industry’s apex are those who capitalize and organize the business, the traders and manufacturers (two usually overlapping roles).  They represent a more heterogeneous mix nowadays, but if we look back historically we find that the city’s jewellers were once socially, culturally, and religiously quite homogeneous.  They almost entirely belonged to communities that traditionally engaged in business and trade—in particular, the Oswals and Shrimals—and most of them were adherents of the Jain religion.  And among the Jains, the jewellers mostly belonged to the Shvetambar branch of Jainism, although there were distinguished Digambar families in the business as well.  This homogeneity is now fading, a trend that developed gradually over many decades and accelerated in the 1970s.  Many new groups and communities are represented in the ranks of Jaipur’s gemstone elite nowadays, and this change is has been extremely significant for the culture of the business, a point to which we shall return later.  Even today, however, the Jains continue to be the core community in Jaipur’s lapidary industry.

 

But ownership and management, as always, are only part of the story.  This is a complex industry that brings together a broad range of expertise and craft skills.  The artisans who are employed the industry’s workshops and factories are not only indispensable to the business but, as a group, constitute one of Jaipur’s most valuable economic assets.

 

Those who cut the stones have traditionally been drawn from the city’s Muslim community.  There are of course exceptions to this, but it remains generally true, even under today’s conditions of rapid social change and increasing social mobility.  These artisans are usually trained by their fathers or other relatives, with the result that work in the industry has become a family heritage.  The various steps of production require varying degrees of expertise, but the highest levels of skill involved are very high indeed, especially in the manufacture of emeralds.  Each stone, one might say, has its own personality and therefore represents a unique problem to be solved, that of bringing out the very best qualities it has to offer.  Owners and managers have the highest respect for the expertise of their most skilled workers, and I have often observed owners in deep consultation with artisans as they ponder together the best approach to cutting a fine stone. 

 

This relates to another point that needs to be emphasized.  While there is a definite division of function between owners and their artisan employees, this does not mean that owners can neglect to acquire a thorough knowledge of the technical aspects of production.  To be successful at this business requires a complete understanding of every stage of the production process.  In other words, this is not a business in which management can afford to preside in lofty isolation from the factory floor.      

 

But the social complexity of the industry does not end here, for there are yet other groups specializing in various aspects of production.  For example, although the polishing of cabochons and beads is generally left in the hands of Muslim artisans, more complex polishing operations are often entrusted to yet another group of highly skilled specialists.  These are professional polishers of Gujarati origin, most of whom appear to belong to the Patel community.  To the best of my knowledge, they first came to Jaipur in the late 1950s, when a few families were invited by one of the leading emerald manufacturers of the city.  They originated in Cambay, where they had previously been employed in polishing rubies and sapphires.  Other Gujaratis followed these early migrants, and ultimately they became a sizable ethnic community within the city (now shrinking because of opportunities in the diamond business in Gujarat).

 

Similar kinds of ethnic specialization are found in the fabrication of jewellery (as opposed to the cutting and polishing of gemstones).  The heavy gold jewelry that was traditionally sought by the region’s aristocracy and other wealthy communities is mostly made by “Marwari” artisans, who are (as best I can tell) of many different social backgrounds.  I also ran into a small community of highly skilled Sikhs who specialize in the fabrication of meenakari and kundun.   Modern open-setting jewelry is mostly made by Bengali artisans.  This market began to open up in the 1960s and is booming today.  According to oral accounts, there were only a few Bengali jewellery makers in Jaipur before 1970 or so.  After that, as a result of opportunities developing in response to changes in the market, they began to flock to the city in large numbers.  Even bead-stringing was traditionally the occupational specialty of a specific social group, in this case a subdivision of the Maheshwari community known as the Patwa Maheshwaris.  Many of them continue to live in a residential cluster in the vicinity of Bapu Bazar. 

 

So what do we make of this extraordinary social diversity?  To indulge in a bit of sociological jargon, I suggest that Jaipur’s gemstone and jewellery industry is “socially integrative.”  By that I mean that it knits together a cluster of otherwise very diverse groups in a single system of complementary roles and activities.  Each group brings its own traditional skills and talents to the industry.  And although these groups have very different outlooks and backgrounds, with respect to the jewellery industry they form an organic whole in which, at least in theory, everyone contributes to a common enterprise.  This extraordinary social and ethnic diversity can be seen as a local echo of the fabled diversity of India as a nation. 

 

 

 

A Business Culture

 

One of the most interesting features of Jaipur’s lapidary industry—one that no outside observer could fail to notice, and something that has certainly made a deep impression on me—is the extent to which trust is involved in day-to-day business transactions.  Many, indeed, have told me that this is a business “based on trust.”  Of course we must avoid starry-eyed naiveté.  No business is based entirely on trust.  Nevertheless, there is no question that the atmosphere of this business is, to a remarkable extent, one in which individuals can rely on the good faith of others in business dealings.  And if this is true now, by all accounts it was even truer in the past.  To put the matter in different terms, it is a question of traditional “business culture.”  Every business takes place within its own culture, and this is a business culture that places great value on the old principle that a “man’s word is his bond.” 

 

To a social scientist, this situation gives rise to the interesting question of what it is about the industry that makes such trust possible.  The answer, I believe, has largely to do with the social context in which the business functions.  My conversations with many Jaipur jewellers have convinced me that in Jaipur there exists a community of gemstone traders and manufacturers was once—and is still today, though to a lesser extent—a genuine community held together by ties other than purely business dealings.  It is precisely this social framework that makes dealing with others in an atmosphere of trust possible.  This is, however, a social world that is on the wane, as we shall see later. 

 

In spelling this out, we must begin by noting that the traditional social world of Jaipur’s jewellers is—or was—a very small one.  It has grown considerably in recent decades, a point to which we return shortly, but during its formative period there were at most a few dozen families who were the trade’s most important players.  Many of these families, moreover, were bound to each other by multiple social ties, and these often included ties of marriage.  As noted already, almost all were Shvetambar Jains.  It is true that there were sectarian divisions among them, but I believe that, despite this, religion generally acted as a social cement among Jaipur’s jewellers.  The temple-goers were deeply involved with each other in activities associated with the Khartar Gacch, the monastic community most widely venerated by the temple-going Shrimals and Oswals of Jaipur, and the non-temple-going Sthanakvasis had analogous contexts for religious interaction.  Charitable activities also drew members of the Jain community together, often across sectarian boundaries.  More generally, networks of friendship based on common experience and outlook criss-crossed the entire community.  This was, in short, a miniature society in which individuals knew each other and interacted with each other in a variety of overlapping contexts.  And it was precisely because of the density of its internal interconnectedness that it was also a society in which there could be a general consensus on the values and principles in terms of which the conduct of individuals ought to be judged, and in which such judgments could in fact be made.

 

Another way to put this is to say that this was the kind of community in which reputation truly mattered.  It must be remembered that reputation is a meaningless concept unless there is some group of reference.  By this I mean that reputation presupposes some specific group—a community of moral consensus—within which an individual’s doings are both known and judgeable in terms of shared standards.  Those in the gemstone business and their families formed a community in this sense.  Its atmosphere was that of a small town, even though the setting was very urban.  Within this group, social communication was nearly instantaneous and all-pervasive, and judgment could be swift.  In explaining these matters to me, my friends in the business again and again stressed how important a man’s reputation was to his success in business.  Of course we must not reduce this insight to a caricature of real life.  As is true in every society, wealth and power could push bad reputation into the background, and business success was certainly affected by many factors other than one’s reputation for honest dealing.  Still, in this small and interconnected social world, a damaged reputation could be very harmful both in business and in social life more generally.

 

 

 

Brokers

 

The communitarian setting of the gemstone business helps to explain another of its most striking traditional features: the crucial role played by brokers.  When I first began to learn about Jaipur’s lapidary industry, one of my biggest surprises was how important this role really is.  As I came to see, it is literally true that this business could not exist without brokers, whose mediation is crucial factor in most transactions.  This is true to the extent that it is sometimes the case that if a broker has not been involved in a particular agreement, some third party will be asked to “be the broker.”  Usually, the two parties to a transaction will not actually meet until the deal is finalized, the entire negotiation having been left to the broker.  To sit with a Jaipur jeweller for any length of time is to see this system in constant action.  The jeweller sits in his office while the brokers come and go, each pulling out his packets or envelopes of stones or jewellery items.  These packets can contain items worth stupendous sums, and I was amazed to learn that security is not really a problem. 

 

I found the broker’s role to present a real puzzle.  Why, I wondered, is the broker considered so necessary?  As it turns out, there are multiple answers to this question.  In part, it is a simple matter of the way the business is laid out physically.  For a variety of reasons, it best suits traders and manufacturers to stay in place in order to supervise their operations.  Given this, it follows that in a business in which the physical examination of goods is absolutely crucial to the determination of value, someone has to carry the goods from one place to another.  Far better for a manufacturer or trader to send a broker out on the streets than to pound the pavement himself.  The broker is also an information specialist.  Because of his peripatetic existence, he hears all of the market chatter, and this means that he is a mine of crucial business data.  A shrewd broker can combine his deep experience in the business with his knowledge of current market conditions in way that makes him indispensable to his clients’ success.  And finally, when trust breaks down, as it must sometimes do, another of the broker’s functions comes to the fore.  Brokers can function as witnesses to the agreements they facilitate, and can also play key roles in the resolution of disagreements that might arise between parties to a transaction.  Sometimes, I am told, the broker himself applies pressure to ensure the honoring of agreements made under his auspices.

 

            But I think there is something deeper involved in the broker’s role that brings us back to the nature of the community in which Jaipur’s lapidary industry is (or once was) embedded.  The broker, I suggest, has a function that is unremarked and largely unrecognized.  It is a social function: that of helping to preserve the stability and cohesion of the social system of those in the gemstone business community.  A crucial point here is that buyer and seller often do not actually come together face-to-face until the broker has done his job and the deal is mostly done.  This is somewhat reminiscent of international diplomacy in which heads of government come together in a summit only when the details of the agreement have already been settled.  The most important implication of this is that the presence of brokers minimizes the chances of the worst kinds of verbal violence occurring that might damage the social fabric of a small and closed society.  It is not that the broker builds relationships; rather, he enables relationships to continue under the strain of business life.   

 

To put the matter somewhat differently, in a small and traditional community, ways must be found of doing business in a manner that allows people to drive hard bargains while at the same time continuing to have social relationships with each other—not just business relationships, but relationships in other spheres of life.  The moves and countermoves of bargaining are therefore best mediated by the broker, who can put matters tactfully on the basis of his sense of the temperament and capacities of each party.  Part of the broker’s role is to take confidential information into account in shaping a transaction.  In theory, he has the trust of both parties, and he knows the strengths and weaknesses of both.  He might be aware, for example, of financial pressures putting a seller in a weak position; knowing this, by means of a diplomatic and judicious presentation he might accelerate matters without revealing the seller’s predicament.  His job is to smooth the way, making it possible for good sense and rationality to prevail.  I do not want to overly idealize this matter; this is a community of human beings, and good sense and rationality do not always prevail.  But to the extent that they do, the brokers have succeeded in their mission.   The moral of the broker’s story is, “Be reasonable with each other and your business is bound to bear fruit.” 

 

 

 

CHANGES AFOOT

 

Change is life, they say, and change is nothing new to Jaipur’s jewellers.  As I have tried to stress, although the business has many traditional aspects, it is by no means timeless and static.  From a historical perspective, the industry is a relative newcomer (albeit with older roots in more traditional forms of jewellery business).  And over the many decades of its existence, it has proven to be quite resilient in the face of constantly altering challenges, a resilience that is both a tribute to those who conduct the business and the secret of its continuing success.  By any standard, conducting a flourishing business dependent on imports for its raw materials and exports for its markets, and doing so under ever-changing conditions, is an extraordinary achievement.  Now, however, the pace of change has accelerated, and this raises the stakes both with regard to the challenges and also the opportunities presented by a rapidly transforming economic landscape.

 

 

 

An Industry Refocuses

 

One obvious and momentous change has to do with major transformations in the world of emeralds.  Emeralds, as we know, were historically the engine of Jaipur’s lapidary industry.  This is changing.  Emeralds of course remain a very significant component of the business, and this will continue to be true.  And more than that, these beautiful and noble gems will always be at the sentimental core of the business.   Emeralds deserve to be celebrated as the gemstones that put Jaipur’s lapidary industry on the map.  But the contours of the industry have changed, and the role of the emerald has changed with it.  There are several reasons for this.  One reason is changing consumer taste—always fickle, never predictable.  Another is a combination of high prices and the availability of less expensive substitute stones.  The most decisive factor, however, has been the continuing difficulty in maintaining reliable supplies of high quality raw materials.  Here the business is at the mercy of historical trends and political conditions completely beyond the control of Jaipur businessmen.  One of my friends in the business—more optimistic, I think, than most—reminded me of the principle of supply and demand.  If the demand is there, he said, the supply will surely come—sooner or later.  My guess is that this view will be vindicated in the long run, and if the emerald business is in a holding pattern for now, the timeless aesthetic appeal of this gem will suffice to secure its long-term future.

 

In the meantime, there has occurred a series of additional and interconnected changes affecting Jaipur’s lapidary industry as a whole.  For one thing, the gemstone business community has now become much larger and more socially variegated than it was in its formative period.  This has inevitably meant a decline in the role of tradition in the business, and a resultant change in business culture.  Many older jewellers have told me that the old small-town atmosphere and sense of business trust have started to diminish.  One might dismiss this as the nostalgia of the older generation, but I think the change is real.  It is rooted in the fact that that the business is no longer embedded in a small, consensual community as it once was.  One may regret this change, but it can also be seen as a measure of the industry’s success.  It is probably the case that all truly successful industries burst out of the social mold in which they were formed, and this is precisely what we see in the recent evolution of Jaipur’s lapidary industry.        

 

Moreover, and related to this, the industry has clearly moved in the direction of calibrated production of gemstones in large factories, and high-volume jewellery-making utilizing domestically manufactured stones.  And these developments, in turn, have occurred hand-in-hand with a shift of emphasis toward a new array of stones, with the focus on those well-suited to the requirements of calibrated mass production.  Once regarded by some as a rather plebeian, semi-precious stones are now moving toward the center of the business.  A symptom of this change is the current movement to replace the expression “precious gemstones” with “colored gemstones,” a more inclusive designation.  This seems right to me; some of these stones—tanzanite and others—are surely as beautiful and desirable as the traditional precious stones, and this deserves to be recognized.  With these changes comes another very significant transformation.  A new kind of workforce is necessary in modern factories, differently educated and with different skills from the workforce of years past.  Putting all of this together, we see that the business is changing simultaneously in multiple and interacting ways: culturally, organizationally, mineralogically, and socially.

 

 

 

New Horizons—but Close to Home     

 

            Finally, there is one other change to which I would like to give special emphasis.  This is a transformation in the relationship between Jaipur’s lapidary industry and India, the country that gave it birth.  As we all know, new shopping malls are springing up all over India.  In most of them, I believe, will be found a jewellery shop of some kind.  This signals a highly positive trend and a significant departure from the past.  As we know, gemstones were traditionally an aristocratic taste in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethics in Gems and Jewelry trade

Posted by vardhamangems on February 20, 2009 at 3:43 PM Comments comments (2)


(Originally Published in Jain Spirit, London. 

 

Reproduced here by the author himself. Jyoti Kothari explains how ethics       enabled Jains to flourish in this precious industry for generations.)

 

 

Many modern Jains face a quandary when attempting to combine their personal values with their career aspirations. Yet, the jewelry trade is, arguably, a business that has the power to corrupt its professionals due to the pressures that come with dealing with high-value items. An honest jeweler is a rarity, yet many Jains have found prosperity through the trade precisely because of their religious beliefs and strong reputations. As Jainism advises that achieving purity is determined through facing and overcoming life’s temptations, I would argue that the core religious values fit well with the honor code of
a jeweler.

India has been a centre for the gem and jewelry trade since the very start of civilization, as attested by the Vedas and the Jain Agamas. The most popular Agama, the Kalpasutra, describes heaps of gemstones as the thirteenth of the fourteen grand
dreams of Trishala, mother of Lord Mahavira. Here, gem identification was listed as one of the 72 main skills to be learned by men. Most of the gemstones in ancient times were found in the sub-continent, including the Himalayas, Kalinga, Burma, Ceylon and Afghanistan. During the years of British rule the wealth, riches, strength and influence of an empire were measured in terms of gold and jewelry. At this time, India was exporting many commodities but imported only gold and gemstones due to a high demand by the aristocratic population. All these factors helped the jewelry trade in India to grow and flourish.

I believe that it was actually the influence of religion that helped many Jains to enter the jewelry trade. The gem and jewelry trade was treated as alparambhi (requiring minimum violence), making it ideal for Jains wishing to adhere to the principle of ahimsa.


Motivation for wealth earned with morality (Nyaya sampanna vaibhava) was exactly the solid background for ethics and morality that fit in with Jain values. The high character and moral conduct of the Jains enabled them to be trusted by kings and aristocrats. The love for one’s religious community (Sadharmi- vatsalya) also played its role, and the established jewelers contributed to this growth by training generations of Jains with the secrets of the trade, which led to many Jains prospering in the trade.

As the Jain society continued to develop as a trader community, a large number of Jain people entered the jewelry trade, particularly in the western part of India, in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The jewelry business was not regarded merely as a trade but treated as a noble and highly honored profession. Jewelers were traditionally nurtured to be honest and trustworthy, strictly following the rules, ethics and traditions of the market. Thus early on, only trained,  competent and virtuous people were allowed to be jewelers. This honesty was combined with a skill and knowledge to deal with rare and high-value items, and evaluating gemstones was a difficult skill to acquire. However, the secrets of the trade were only imparted to eligible students through a traditional system in
which the teacher used to evaluate the family background of the student first, as this was treated as a guarantee of honesty and trustworthiness. The teacher nurtured his students with the qualities required of a true jeweler, whilst equipping them with the necessary practical skills and theoretical knowledge of the trade. They were taught to be patient, calm, vigilant, creative and diplomatic, fitting the sort of values Jains were traditionally taught. Jain jewelers functioned according to the following basic rules in particular: imitations were never to be sold as real; substituting of goods was
treated as a major offence; a certain percentage was deducted in every transaction for charitable purposes.


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These qualities made them popular in the trade and they were able to build trust with their esteemed customers, including emperors, monarchs, merchants and high-ranking officials. The Muslim Badshahs, Nawabs and Hindu kings appointed them as their court jewelers, even permitting them to enter into their harems, a no-entry zone for males. As noted by the renowned historian Agarchand Bhanwarlal Nahata, “Jains had the prime position in the gem and jewelry trade. For centuries they have occupied a dignified position as jewelers for the rulers and Muslim Badshahs. It is evident that Jains held an expertise in this special trade even in the Sultan period of 13th century.”
Indeed it has been alleged that jewelers were held to be so trustworthy that the statements of a jeweler as a witness could not be challenged even in the courts of
British India.

Whilst the knowledge of a jeweler is often kept as classified information, many Jains contributed to the knowledge pool by writing books. One of the earliest of these was written in the 14th century by Thakkur Feru, court jeweler to Alauddin Khiljee, Badshah of
Delhi. In the introduction of the Ratnapariksha (Gem Inspection) he mentions himself as a perfect Jain and clearly highlights the importance of religion to him
and his trade. His description of the merits of the jewelers is a key source of information about the ethical values of that period.

Many Jain jewelers were responsible for the expansion of the jewelry trade over the centuries since the Sultan period. During the 20th century, enterprising Jains decided to venture further afield, such as the Parson and Mogha families of
Calcutta, who arrived in Thailand in the early 20th century and have proved highly successful. As Japan started cultivating cultured and Bibako pearls, many of the Jain families moved to Kobe, Japan, to make their fortunes. Further progress was made in the thriving markets of New York, Geneva and Antwerp and when gold and diamond mines were discovered in the African countries in 19th and 20th centuries, several of the Gujarati Jain families established themselves in Africa. In the latter half of the twentieth century, India’s thriving diamond-polishing industry cut 92% of the world’s diamond pieces. Diamond export from India (Rs.2.5 Crore in 1966) jumped to approximately Rs.35 thousand Crores by the end of the century and this amazing growth in only 35 years can be largely attributed to the Jain entrepreneurs.

However, the majority of these jewelers have not simply basked in the luxury of their wealth, but opted instead to continue the tradition of contributing their time to charities and social work. A large number of educational institutes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, dharmashalas and animal welfare centers are run by the jewelers in different parts of
India. Many prominent charitable trusts were established by the Jain Jewelers for Social and Religious Services, and it is the jewelers’ contributions that have maintained some of the Jain temples and upashrayas built outside of India. Naresh Kantilal, Rajnikanta Keshavlal Shah, Babulal Sanghvi are a few prominent names contributing to the conservation of old temples in India.

So, though indeed the jewelry trade has connotations of corruption, for many Jain jewelers religion has played a key role in their success within the industry. It is the very necessity for truth and trustworthiness that has helped maintain their strong reputations. Whilst it is increasingly challenging for us to reconcile our Jain values with our career
aspirations, I would argue that the core values of truth and honesty can play a key role in any profession, allowing one to maintain their religious standards and achieve spiritual purity.

Jyoti Kothari is a scholar, speaker and Jewelry
entrepreneur based in
Jaipur, India.

 

 

 

Posted by vardhamangems on January 30, 2009 at 4:22 PM Comments comments (0)


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Gem and Jewelry business in Hyderabad

Posted by vardhamangems on January 6, 2009 at 2:59 AM Comments comments (0)

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