Cartier, Bvlgari and the likes now have some Indian competition. Jeweller Nirav Modi, who till just about a year ago relied on auctions and word of mouth to sell his jewellery, is all set to open stores in New York and Hong Kong, two of the world’s most important markets. Modi is no newcomer to global jewellery connoisseurs. His Golconda Necklace, embedded with a 12.29 carat diamond, was on the cover of Christie’s Hong Kong auction catalogue in 2010 and sold for Rs 16.29 crore. In 2012, another of his necklaces, featuring 36 white diamonds, together weighing 88.88 carats, was sold for $5.1 million to a Chinese buyer at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.
Modi has also done his homework well. Ahead of the global stores, he opened a boutique in Delhi last year, and one in Mumbai recently to test the retail strategy.
The New York store will be located at Madison Avenue, with an approximately 1,000 sq ft area.
“It is the first store for us to establish a global footprint, and will feature our high jewellery collection, including a few iconic ones. A special jewellery collection for daily wear is also in the pipeline for these stores,” he says.
As much as 85% of his current revenues come from international clientele, and the rest from within India.
But what triggered this sudden interest in retail? “Our client base has grown very quickly and the move to retail was a natural progression. Within India, the demand for diamond jewellery has been rising significantly. We already had a large client base through our Mumbai salon and with exhibitions in major Indian cities. We launched the Nirav Modi Delhi boutique in 2014 and now the Mumbai boutique at Kala Ghoda is set to play an important role in our retail strategy. Our first two international stores will be in Hong Kong and New York, where we already have a brand awareness among jewellery connoisseurs as a result of our jewels being featured in Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions in these cities,” he tells us.
For the future, he is looking at around 20-30 boutiques in key cities such as New York, London, Hong Kong and far East, in addition to major cities in India. “India, the US and the far East are three markets we are concentrating on. It is difficult to pick one as a focus area. The US is a mature market, with exposure to international trends and cognisant of fine jewellery. The far East has already had exposure to our jewels through auctions and has exhibited great appreciation for them. It is also a rapidly developing luxury market with a marked interest in branded products,” he says. However, he is clear he will continue to showcase his pieces at global auctions too.
As for inspirations, he admires the growth exhibited by brands such as Cartier, Bvlgari, Van Cleef and Arpels in the past decade. However, he would like to set his own goals and standards. “We hope to evolve into a global diamond jewellery brand. We are going to make the ‘Made in India’ label aspirational for jewellery with uncompromising focus on quality, design and innovation,” he sums up. A clear-cut and sparkling plan there.