Your company merges Eastern and Western influences together. How do you balance the fusion of these two worlds?
I grew up in Belgium and frequently visited museums in Rome, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona with my mother who is an interior decorator and this piqued my interest in art, architecture and culture from around the world. Yes, this is an Indian brand but our jewellery aesthetic isn’t Indian. Our designs have Indian inspirations as well as other European [and] global influences. For example, the Mughal collection is inspired by the intricate marble in-lay work by artisans in the Mughal era, whereas the Lotus collection is inspired by Monet’s water lilies paintings.
How do you find inspiration for your jewellery designs?
Beauty does not reside in any one place, object or person. Inspiration comes from so many sources – nature, art, poetry, architecture – and is sometimes found in the most unexpected of places. If we take the Embrace Collection as an example, I saw my daughters playing with their stretchable toy bangles at home and was inspired to replicate the same playfulness in diamond jewellery. [Our] designs will continue to be created based on the myriad of influences the world has to offer. You will continue to see a mix of Indian as well as other global influences.
You come from three generations of jewellers. How has the diamond market changed since your grandfather first started the business?
Just like any other industry, the diamond industry has evolved. There is a change in consumer demands. Increased awareness and diamond knowledge among consumers means that consumers not only want the finest quality but are also looking for something unique. The benefit of being in the industry for so many years is that we have highly skilled craftsmen who know all the diamond polishing and setting techniques and have a deep understanding of diamonds. We have a research and development unit that works on creating new diamond cuts and researching new setting techniques.
You have stores in London, Hong Kong, China and, of course, India. How strategic are these locations?
All our markets are important; London is a hub for international travellers and high jewellery connoisseurs from Europe. India doesn’t have other luxury jewellery brands in the [same] space so we have been successful. The Hong Kong and China market is definitely important for us. Consumers have shown affinity towards our jewels and we have been fortunate to receive very positive feedback from this market. Greater China will definitely be a focus when we expand further over the next few years.
In the face of economic downturn and retail slowdown, how does opening more stores this year make sense to your overall business strategy for the future?
Yes, there is an economic downturn, but I believe there will always be a demand for diamonds and jewellery when it comes to people buying engagement rings or even buying jewellery for gifting [during the] holiday season or for special occasions. We have been fortunate to have a very positive response in the markets that we have opened in and will continue to open in strategic locations over the next few years.
How do you see the luxury jewellery market developing in 2017? And what is your strategy to nurture and grow your target audience?
Over the last few years we have seen an overall change in trend where people want to own things that are undiscovered, new and unique. Our jewel designs are contemporary and we believe they appeal to customers of all age groups. However, we do plan on increasing our focus on bridal jewellery and engagement rings to reach out to younger customers.
You have a history of firsts: first luxury Indian jeweller, first Indian company to take over a US company, first Indian company to exhibit at the Biennale des Antiquaires, etc. What drives you?
I believe that India has a lot of potential. We have the knowledge of the technical artistry needed to create exceptional diamond jewellery and we have a rich history. I want to create something unique and beautiful and take India to a global scale.
Nirav Modi is famous for its patented diamond cuts, like the Endless Cut, and innovative designs, like the Embrace collection. What drives you to come up with new innovations?
We aim to create jewels that are light and comfortable for the wearer, innovative and unique, and designs in which the diamonds take centre stage. We want finesse in every aspect and our innovations help us achieve this. We will continue to work on innovative cuts and mechanisms when they help better the finesse or our jewels or increase the comfort for the wearer.