Christened 'The Pink City' after a salmon-hued paint job undertaken to honour Britain's Queen Victoria in 1876, Jaipur is known for splendid gemstones at prices that don't require a royal purse. Tourists gravitate to the Palace of the Winds' haunting facade and the Amer Fort (best reached by elephant), but shopaholics have been known to skip the sights in favour of roadside markets that bulge with mirrored bangles, painted miniatures and hand-block cotton frocks. Go to the markets in the morning before temperatures rise and crowds congregate. Load up on flowing silk skirts festooned with sparkles (from US$35) inside Roop Sagar (156 Johari Bazaar, tel: 91 141 256 6518) by wading through kaleidoscopic piles and bargaining hard. Camel leather and export-quality stitching make jhuti moccasins (US$8) and stylish slip-on sandals (US$5) worth holding one's breath for at Deepak Foot Wear (shop 112A, Bapu Bazaar), just inside the traffic-clogged Sanganeri Gate. Continue away from the city centre via the markets of Hawar Mahal Street (above) but detour just before the antique-filled City Palace. Instead, duck into Satayam (Laxman Dwara, City Palace, tel: 91 141 260 1432), the stylish new address of the son of Jaipur's leading antique textiles dealer. Taking inspiration from the family jewels, Jatin Sharma applies India's rich weaving and printing traditions to modern, elegant clothes such as his bohemian chic full-length skirts with real gold-foil stenciling (US$450) and sexy, see-through cotton blouses with hand-sewn sequin details (US$95). For instant gratification, nip into Jaisalmer Arts and Crafts (opposite Ayurveda College, inside Jorawar Singh Gate, Amer Palace Road, tel: 91 141 263 0233). Vintage Indian skirts (from US$125), museum-quality antique Kashmiri coats (from US$350), Uzbek quilts (from US$280) and antique Indian gold and silver gypsy jewellery fill the two-storey emporium. More affordable options range from psychedelic-hued Pakistani quilts (from US$50) to elegantly muted Rajasthan block-print bed covers (from US$30) and handbags (US$10). Ask to see the authentic Jaisalmer wool wraps that the in-house tailor can turn into a couture coat while you shop (from US$250). As local ladies well know, saris can hide a multitude of sins. Jaipur's most stunning selection can be found at Rukhmani (Hari Bhawan, Achol House, Jacob Road, Civil Lines, tel: 91 141 222 5485). A simple tie-dyed georgette affair (US$40) costs less than some T-shirts but for wedding-worthy attire in hand-embroidered silks (from US$120), prices quickly escalate. Translucent tunics covered in colourful, intricate embroidery (US$60) make cool beach cover-ups while the accompanying dupatta shawl doubles as a skimpy sarong. Bring Rajasthan's hand-block printing into your wardrobe from the selection next door at Cottons (tel: 91 141 222 3870). Gypsy inspired skirts (US$40) will overwhelm all but the tallest types but anyone can toss on a vibrant cotton kurta and look like an exotic, well-travelled style maven. For souvenirs that really make a difference, stock up on the boho-chic beaded jewellery by the cash register, all made by Jaipur street children. Those who prefer to drape themselves only in the finest jewels head to Gem Palace (Mizra Ismail Road, tel: 91 141 237 4175; www.gempalacejaipur.com ), which has been adding sparkle to the lives of Mughul emperors, maharajas and international names for eight generations. These days, scion Sanjay Kasliwal commands the jaw-dropping showrooms to the delight of his loyal clientele, who stock up on everything that glitters, from semi-precious teardrop earrings (from US$100) to the emperor's own emeralds (prices available on request).