Jewellery, as Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor once said, has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique. For these entrepreneurs, it goes a step further—diamond jewellery brings forth their fiercely individualistic styles and resilient spirits. What unites them? Their tenacity and love for natural diamonds.
Michelle Poonawalla, Director, Poonawalla Engineering Group, and Artist
Growing up between the UK and India, art has been an integral part of life for Michelle Poonawalla. Her deep sense of aesthetics and penchant for experimenting reflect in her distinct personal style as well. Her jewellery collection is an enviable mix of modern and classic, boasting a unique range of natural diamonds. The exquisite two-string necklace she’s wearing in the picture features a melange of colourless and yellow diamonds with a detachable hanging brooch and two large pear-shaped diamonds. “Diamonds are timeless and classic,” she says. Her sartorial choices, especially when entertaining—with her husband, the business tycoon Yohan Poonawalla, at their sprawling home in Pune—rarely ever miss the mark. One heirloom piece, in particular, stands out—a pair of vintage Cartier earrings she first wore on her wedding day. “These beautifully crafted earrings belonged to my grandmother. Made predominantly with diamonds with a small touch of emerald, the making is magnificent,” says Poonawalla. While the businesswoman-artist, whose works have been exhibited at several internationally acclaimed art galleries, is partial to classic brands like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, she says, “I love the Art Deco styles of high-end jewellery. And, of course, for me, diamonds are truly forever.”
Akanksha Aggarwal, Founder, Exclusively Yours
Akanksha Aggarwal, who transitioned from being an actor to an entrepreneur after her marriage and having children, likes to keep things simple—be it with her life, her work or her fashion choices. Natural diamonds, in particular, take her back to her happy childhood. The first piece of jewellery she owned was a diamond ring gifted to her on her 16th birthday. In the years that followed, two more unique pieces made their way to her private collection—the diamond-studded earrings gifted to her by her parents on her 21st birthday and the floral design diamond bangle given to her on Valentine’s Day by her husband that she’s wearing in her picture. “A diamond is a special stone for me; it symbolises deep, everlasting love forever and ever,” says Aggarwal. Among her prized possessions, it is her grandmother’s antique gold arm bracelet with uncut diamonds and the Navratna stone that holds pride of place. “I also love the diamond-studded gold hoops my mum always wore. These pieces are special, as they have a lot of emotion and sentiment attached to them. They are also one of a kind—the artistry, purity, and lustre are intact even today,” says the entrepreneur. “Jewellery is something every girl loves, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Shalini Passi, Founder, Shalini Passi Art Foundation and MASH
An avid art collector, artist and philanthropist, Shalini Passi has been working on several exciting projects, including an online exhibition ‘Living the New Normal’ and a fundraiser ‘Stand with Bengal’, proceeds from which go towards supporting communities affected by the Amphan Cyclone that caused widespread damage in Eastern India this May. What many don’t know about her, however, is that in addition to her multiple roles she also likes collecting high-end costume pieces and vintage diamond jewellery, with natural diamonds high up on her list of sustainable jewellery. “Something as simple as carbon, when compressed, transforms into a breathtaking solid stone [a diamond]. For me, this signifies eternity and perseverance, inspiring me to become a better version of myself,” says Passi who received her first piece of jewellery—a pair of diamond and ruby earrings—on her 12th birthday. “I’ve also inherited a few heirloom pieces from my grandmother. Crafted in a typical Victorian cut and set in gold, I am extremely emotionally attached to these diamond-studded sets as they carry within them a lot of memories.”
Suman Agarwal: Nutritionist, Author and Founder, Selfcare India
Growing up, Suman Agarwal was obsessed with her mother’s diamond-studded Patla (a broad bangle typically worn by Marwari women).“My love for jewellery started with this piece,” she tells us. Be it at the office or social events or even while entertaining at home, you’ll find Agarwal wearing at least one piece of diamond jewellery. Diamonds are intrinsic to her philosophy of responsible jewellery. “I never leave home without my diamond hoops,” she says. Gift her anything with natural diamonds, and you know you’ve made the right choice. “My favourite piece is this gorgeous heart-shaped diamond bought for me by my husband. I love it!” says Agarwal, who is currently busy with several projects that include a customised SelfCare app for clients, a healthy food delivery service and a new book on health and lifestyle. Next on her wishlist are diamond solitaires. “I am hoping to be gifted a bigger pair than the ones I currently have,” she says.”
Penny Patel, Gallerist and Proprietor, India Fine Art
In January this year, Penny Patel helped put together artist Jitish Kallat’s solo exhibition Terranum Nuncius at Famous Studios in Mumbai, a first for him in the city after a gap of five years. “I will soon be promoting international artists from around the world,” says the art enthusiast under whose leadership India Fine Art has flourished, bringing new artistic talents to light. For her, diamonds signify elegance and beauty, two qualities she is synonymous with. “This brilliant stone can link different generations. I love wearing my mum’s diamonds, and I can’t wait for my daughters to wear hers, and mine, too.” Interestingly, it wasn’t until Patel got engaged 20 years ago that the gallerist was gifted her first piece of jewellery, a pair of emerald-cut diamonds given to her by now-husband, Sanjeev. Patel. “I love wearing rings especially, my favourite being my elegant diamond band,” she says.
Each of these bona fide influencers brings out the sparkle, fire and brightness of the diamonds they wear so effortlessly. Their multi-layered personalities complement the character and brilliance of the diamonds they wear, all in all making it a natural fit.