Jun 26, 2008

Adding some sparkle

The Kirtilal's story
When a conservative and low-profile group such as Kirtilals reveals that its diamonds, which are cut and polished in China and Botswana, are being supplied to top international brands such as Cartier, Tiffany, Rolex, Harry Winston, Gucci and Bvlgari, and that some creations by yesteryear ace designer A.V. Shinde adorned The Queen of England, Princess Diana and Oprah Winfrey, ears are sure to perk up … one can also spot a few jaws drop.
What took Kirtilals so long to open up?
Says T. Shantakumar, Managing Director, Kirtilals, “Though we were doing well as a retail chain, we wanted to establish ourselves in the manufacturing sector too. In fact, our group company Dimexon Diamonds is a prominent sightholder of the Diamond Trading Corporation (DTC) and is one of the largest manufacturers of diamond in the world. Now we are ready to make our presence felt in the whole of India.” It’s raining gold and drizzling diamonds everywhere! And with jewellery retailing on an all-time high in India, the competition among the big brands has been fierce, to say the least. High-profile brand ambassadors, tie-ups with Bollywood blockbusters, glitterati dos … no stone has been left unturned. But despite the hullabaloo surrounding it, Kirtilals, the diamond and gold jewellery retail chain from the Kirtilal Kalidas Group, has no brand ambassador, no television ad and no store in the jewellery hubs of Mumbai and Delhi.
While one got to witness some fascinating diamond jewellery making in a trip to their factory – Vispark Jewellery Manufacturing – in Coimbatore, one wondered what else the jeweller had to offer that would set it above the rest or at least on par.
Long ago, Kirtilal Kalidas Mehta and his family from Gujarat made Coimbatore their home. In 1939, it opened its first store. However, despite being popular on the international radar, Kirtilals is relatively unknown to many frequent jewellery buyers in the country, especially in the North.
But not any longer, is Kirtilals’ firm assertion as it gears itself up for the makeover it has been waiting for.
Kirtilals store staff has been trained on international lines and the retailer is focussed on trendy designs for the youth. From quietly making inroads into the hearts of jewellery lovers in South India (the group has showrooms in Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Vijayawada and even Ludhiana), Kirtilals says it is determined to get noticed in other parts too. Going ahead, the company is planning to open boutiques in New Delhi. It is also looking at other cities.
Unlike others, Kirtilals is not following the clich├ęd procedure of getting a celebrity brand ambassador, entering into a movie tie-up or doing an ad campaign. The company is coming up with a series of innovative concepts which it feels will get jewellery lovers talking about them.Making designers of customers
Kirtilals has come up with the concept of an exclusive lounge called the ‘design studio’, where customers can sit with in-house designers at the store and design their own piece of jewellery. Seema Mehta, head of the design team at Kirtilals explains, “Women no longer want to buy jewellery right off the shelves. They want something exclusive that is not worn by others. We have come up with the lounge concept in some of our showrooms down South where women can design their own piece of jewellery from scratch to finish and rest assured the design is not repeated.” A glittering trip
The company also has another unique concept called ‘A day with Kirtilals’ – a few high-profile customers from all over the country are taken to the Kirtilals factory in Coimbatore to witness jewellery being made. From designing to diamond assortment, setting stones to gold polishing, the customers are given a step-by-step demonstration of jewellery making. Adding some glamour
While other jewellery stores are racing to bag contracts from supermodels and pretty faces from the film industry, Kirtilals does not have a brand ambassador to promote its jewellery nor does it plan to. “We don’t want any model to take away the attention from our jewellery; however, to add some glamour quotient, we have recently tied up with ace fashion designer Rohit Bal who is designing a new collection for us called ‘Rohit Bal for Kirtilals’ that will turn quite a few heads,” says Mehta.
As Kirtilals is all set to assume its new avtaar, whether this makeover will work wonders, only time will tell.

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