India has one of the most fascinating jewellery cultures in the world with a history that stretches back millennia. To many though, Indian jewellery conjures up images of maharajas lavishly bedecked in giant gemstones and elaborate, traditional necklaces and headpieces. Krishna Choudhary, founder of Santi Jewels and himself a 10th-generation jeweller, is on a mission to change all that with his entirely contemporary take on his country’s richly bejewelled heritage.
Until now, Santi has led a discreet life within the sumptuous confines of Choudhary’s private salon in Mayfair, where it was established in 2019. A visit there is always one of hushed awe, as Choudhary pulls out from his desk box after box of historical, museum-worthy gems that have been repurposed from his family vault into exceptional 21st-century designs.
Take this emerald ring. The unusual striped facets of the central stone were cut in the 18th century, not to European-style conventions of symmetry and “perfection”, but in the highly skilled, traditional Indian approach of maximising its final size and exceptional colour. “It’s not perfect, that’s the beauty of the stone,” says Choudhary. The emerald was bought decades ago by his father Santi, for whom the brand is named and himself a talented jeweller. Until now it’s lain safely in the family vault, but Choudhary has been able to celebrate its unique beauty by setting it simply atop a band of diamonds, which have been cut to mimic a jali, intricate ornamental openwork screens common in Indian architecture.