For nearly two hundred years the Kasliwal family of Jaipur’s Gem Palace has had the distinction of the official jewelers of the Maharajas and the most well-known Indian jewelers in the world. In 1852, the Kasliwals moved their business from their original shop within the walls of the Amer Palace to its current location on Mirza Ismail Road in the heart of bustling Jaipur.
The Gem Palace has been a pilgrimage for Bollywood and Hollywood stars; Prime Ministers, Presidents and Kings; European royals, Italian designers, Arab sheiks, international society queens and the merely moneyed. The guest book includes signatures from Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and Oprah Winfrey.
Around 80% of the world’s supply of gemstones is cut and polished in Jaipur, destined for the Harry Winston’s, Cartier’s, and Bulgari’s across the world. Many of the skilled craftsmen who work at Gem Palace have been working with the Kasliwal family since the beginning.
We had the opportunity to watch them sit barefoot in front of mounds of spinels, emeralds, sapphires and rubies across the workshop floor, creating with many of the same techniques of gold-enameling and stone-setting that have been used by The Gem Palace for centuries.
The Mughal enameling technique was developed in the 16th century for the rulers of India and is now a technique now synonymous with traditional Indian jewelry. In the 1800’s, another technique was developed by The Gem Palace that is used today in their Indo-Russian collection. Originally devised for the Russian tsars and their courts, the special flat-cut of diamonds then set in a gold and silver alloy results in the highest sparkle-factor imaginable (the twinkle is its most intense in candlelight, and thus perfect for the candlelit Imperial Russian dinner parties).