Few gemstones carry a legacy as rarefied as those of natural diamonds—exquisite jewels known to elicit superlatives, an everlasting testimony of savoir-faire and timeless appeal. It comes as little surprise then that interior decorator Chanda Chaudhary prizes the value of last-forever investment pieces that champion time-honoured techniques over fleeting trends.
It is this unflinching ability to see through the transience that emboldened her to take an intentional step back from the ever-accelerating pace of Mumbai and recalibrate her life by splitting her time between the big city and the leisurely shores of Goa. “Moving away for a while gave me the liberty of not living life on the clock. Some days, I would meditate and pray and on others, I pottered around,” she said, her voice carrying a lilting serenity that defines her mindspace—the enviable ease seeping into her words speaking of a comfort, a sense of freedom that she has found outside the shackles of urban life. If the world were to go into lockdown tomorrow, she would probably find newer ways to be at peace with herself, perhaps running a YouTube tutorial to paint and polish the antique furniture lying around her house on a whim.
Travel and her thirst for discovering hidden gems around the world is the only thing that can detach her from this life of tranquility—the wilds of Patagonia or the uninterrupted expanse of the Atacama Desert topping her list of favourite spots to unwind. If she were to add a mainstream city like London to her itinerary, she’d prefer to give the tourist season a wide berth in favour of drinking in the city skyline in the unsaturated hues of autumn. Closer home, the cultural legacy of Kolkata swept her off her feet as did discovering Bikaner’s footprint in the world of arts. You will also find Chaudhary trawling historical cities like Benaras to consciously look for old, one-of-a-kind natural diamond jewellery as opposed to freshly crafted pieces. “As I am growing older, I find myself appreciating the value of craftsmanship and skills. These handcrafted pieces would take forever to make and knowing that somebody has made this work of art with love is what makes it a privilege for me to wear it and carry these stories forward,” she reflects.
I don’t have to go somewhere or meet someone to enjoy these pieces – I wear jewellery for myself.
– Chanda Chaudhary
This intentional approach to jewellery is also what propels the entrepreneur to leave room for a gap between two consequent purchases, as she leverages this interval to educate herself on the world of natural diamonds—inspired by her childhood trips to the local jeweller with her mother which served as a gateway into a captivating world of twinkling delights and shimmering objets d’art. However, it wasn’t merely the sparkle that entranced her, but the manner in which her mother uncovered the true gems. What was the cut, caratage and luminosity? What was the history of the piece? What was the design influence of the setting? As she leaned forward to glean these answers, young Chaudhary began constructing a world of her own. Suddenly, a diamond necklace was elevated into a time capsule, as she dreamed up an imaginative world of who might have worn it before and what she might have felt like when she draped it around her neck. She shares, “Today, when I see a piece of jewellery, my first question is about its prominence. Where has it come from and what is its artisanal value? If you go to an old dealer who has been in this business for the last few generations, the story is slowly unveiled as you learn about all the influences that came together to make one pieces.”
However, she rues that this art of storytelling has been lost on the new generation of instant gratification. “This is what we don’t do well, we don’t tell our stories. It could be a piece of furniture, tapestry, carpet or an exquisite piece of jewellery with natural diamonds. It is only once you share the story and the craftsmanship that was used to make it that you can reveal its magic. And once you have seen this world of finesse, you can never go back to mass-produced pieces that everybody else is wearing,” she promises.
Chaudhary is, however, willing to concede that this appreciation of the extraordinary is one that is honed with age. “When you are young, you are hungry for stuff. You want to be the first one to jump on a new trend, to the extent that you begin hoarding things devoid of sentimentality and meaning. But once you define your own signature style, you become more discerning with your approach and there is no way that you can go back to simply buying things without intention,” she believes. And it is this discerning mindset that inspires her to wear her finest treasures everyday, rather than reserving them for special occasions. “I don’t have to go somewhere or meet someone to enjoy these pieces—I wear jewellery for myself,” she concludes.