Published On : Fri, Nov 6th, 2015

‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friends’: says Madhura

They are her passport to success

Jhatalika wearing Madhura's creation as head piece at Show Stopper

Diamonds are forever
Hold one up and then caress it
Touch it, stroke it and undress it
I can see every part, nothing hides in the heart to hurt me

Diamonds are forever
Sparkling round my little finger
Unlike men, the diamonds linger
Men are mere mortals who are not worth going to your grave for

Diamonds are forever, forever, forever
Forever and ever

Pretty and petite 23 years old Madhura hasn’t yet given up on men – unlike Shirley Bassey who has crooned this immortal song – but she has decided to weave her future round these lustrous things, who she knows will be with her forever and ever. She is not going to be waiting for some Prince Charming to carry her away to Paradise!

Come Fall, we have thousands of young Indians packing their bags and leaving for USA/ US/ Australia to pursue further education in Engg., Medical, Architecture, Management etc. etc. but this December, Madhura is flying to USA to a comparatively unknown  city called El Dorado in the state of Arkansas. It’s a city with less than 20,000 population but it is where a well known and popular jewellery making US firm Murphy Pitard Jewellers  ‘produces’ its products and that’s where Madhura is headed, for doing a 6 month internship and getting some valuable first hand experience and expertize in becoming a ‘Bench jewellery Art’ specialist. That is what what core jewellers who work with metal and gems are called – Bench artists. This girl from Nagpur aims to be one – one of the best! So how did this career come about?

Madhura, the younger child of banker Prakash and his part entrepreneur, part home maker  wife Manisha was interested in Arts right from childhood. Seeing her passion for dancing, her fond mother had enrolled her in a local dance class and impressed by how good she was at it, the dance teacher had encouraged her to participate in ‘Boogie Woogie dance’ competition held by a TV channel. At the age of 8, Madhura had emerged as the second national winner!

“Yeh ladki badi hoke artist banegi” Javed Jaffri, one of the judges had predicted.

No one knew or suspected then, what kind of artist! Madhura went on to learn Bharat Natyam but it was never more than a hobby. As she grew older, her parents and her elder brother, wanted to her to concentrate more and more on studies. ‘Study well and make something of yourself’ was the motto, as in all Maharashtrian middle class families.

But Madhura was not studious at all! She liked going to school, she mostly did well in her exams, but she knew she wanted to do something “out of the box”. But what? The reply to this kept eluding her and she became more and more dissatisfied with all educational streams she was trying out. She hated Maths so engineering was definitely out, but for a while she thought she would do CA. Then she changed to Management and registered for BBA. It was during this trial and error period that a health calamity struck. Without warning, she would start throwing up blood. No cause could be ascertained. She did not have any digestive problems like ulcers etc. The loss of blood was leading to weakness and her parents were constantly worried. After exhausting all Doctors of Nagpur they began taking her to hospitals in Mumbai. As fate would have it, before her medical problem found a solution, these Mumbai visits solved that bigger problem for Madhura – what she wanted to do as a profession? She would come across large hoardings of jewellery shops and various brands making diamond jewellery and she found this ‘craft’ of making jewellery very intricate, artistic and challenging.

In her spare time she started researching colleges or institutes that imparted this education. She found a two month course in Mumbai run by GIA – Gemology Institute of America. It charged a bomb! She was sure her father would never allow it. Then some advise from a friend, and her own research led her to the ‘Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery’ which offered a three years graduate course and was a national institute of repute, though not many youngsters are aware of it. The fees were high, but not so stiff at Rs. one lakh per year approximately. But the institute had no boarding facility and Madhura would have to live outside on her own. She was just about recovering from her ailment. But she managed to persuade her parents to do it; whether it was living as a paying guest with some family friends, or later shifting to her own rental apt. they supported her in all her moves.

What she was learning in the institute was a dream come true. It was not just about jewellery, gems, and design; they exposed them to Indian history and our rich cultural heritage. On weekends, the students were encouraged to go to museums, even visit Heritage places like Elephanta caves to observe how the people on those historic carvings were dressed. How they wore their hair, their clothes and their jewellery. Then they were asked to visit all the known and less known jewellery showrooms and look at contemporary designs.

The Institute does not stop at just these extra curricular activities – they make it possible for their students to participate in and become a part of the “India International Jewellery week” which is held on the lines of Lakme Fashion week. It is hosted by some 7 star hotel of Mumbai and attended by glitterati and celebrities of not just Mumbai but all over India. Sonam Kapoor is their brand ambassador.

In Madhura’s final year of the course, she too decided to participate in this along with a select group of four others from her institute. She designed and made a honeycomb design neck piece which ‘their model’ Jhatalika Malhotra who is Femina Miss India 2014 was to wear on the ramp.

Madhura with family - dressed in pink at extreme right
Jhatalika loved Madhura’s design so much that she decided to wear it as a headgear at the show stopper. Madhura along with her 4 classmates were labelled the ” fabulous five” by Femina who had covered the event .

” I have never been keen on wearing jewellery myself, but seeing my design worn by a beautiful woman like Jhatalika and become part of the show stopper was a rare high! It was my Eureka moment” says Madhura.

Not stopping at this achievement, she decided to explore further horizons and applied for the compulsory internship to jewellery designers based in USA. Her brother and sister in law who live in the Bay area of California, encouraged her to take this big step. She had been to the US for her brother’s graduation and was amazed at how they designed and wore their diamonds. These stones are much more a part of life for rich Americans like gold is for Indians.

Even as this write up is being written, Madhura is undergoing a minor surgery for another chronic problem she has been suffering from. If she had been a mental weakling, she would have given up education and all outside activities and become a home-recluse, watched over tenderly by her mother. Looking to her fragile health, her dad had once playfully said ” God sent me a defective piece!”

Well, this ‘defective piece’ is now on her way to designing the most exquisite of diamond jewellery and her aim and ambition is to one day have an exclusive jewelry line her name!

“I will be a bench jeweller of repute one day!” says Madhura firmly and confidently.

Sunita Mudaliar

Associate Editor