Precious to Priceless

Farah Khan Ali talks with You & I
Did coming from a family with a cinematic history have any impact on your career?
There were benefits at the beginning. The Bollywood angle encouraged customers to walk through the door, but my designs made them stay. Adversely, most potential buyers who like my work think it’s extremely expensive. To dispel this myth, my new store is in the biggest high-end jewellery retail market in Mumbai. In the midst of all that competition, I hope that even if guests walk in just to browse, they realise that my jewellery is as affordable as my competitors’.
You’re a star designer these days. Was that always your goal?
I never planned to become a jewellery designer. In fact, it all started on a whim, when I decided to accompany a friend who wanted to study gemmology to Los Angeles. I was expecting to spend a few fun days away from home, but it was not to be. The course was so immersive that I went on to study jewellery design at the Gemological Institute of America, and returned to India to pursue a career in it.
The concept was quite rare when you began 20 years ago. What was it like at the beginning?
Initially there was a lot of curiosity about my work, but I think that only helped attract customers. The talent I displayed kept them around, and brought them back again and again. You get only one chance to make a first impression.
Your designs are more contemporary than traditional. Where do you find inspiration?
My design aesthetics come from my creative background. I view the world in a magical perspective and find design wherever I go. I’m attracted to beauty in any form, beauty that captivates me and spurs me on to design. I capture that inanimate thought, turning it into a three-dimensional object of beauty, one that will outlive its wearer and go down the generations. In time, ‘precious’ becomes ‘priceless’.
Tell us about your processes.
It all begins with a thought, spurred by an emotion or incident that captivates your senses. It wants you to explore that further by giving life to it. That thought is then discussed by our design team, who attach keywords and mood boards to a concept, which is eventually turned into a design on paper. The two-dimensional sketches are further rendered once the precious stones and sizes are chosen. We then have a final bit of artwork that states the dimensions, carat, gold weight, etc.
What’s your take on online retail?
E-commerce is enjoying a boom. The concept is convenient for consumers, who can shop from the comfort of their homes and place orders anytime, anywhere. Personalised accounts, histories, profiles, recommended items, and other customised interaction tools contribute to a high level of customer satisfaction in the online buying experience. This makes up for lacking the ‘touch and feel’ of the product prior to purchase.
What has your journey been like?
It has taken me 20 long years to get here. Contrary to what people may think, it’s been an uphill task strewn with many difficulties. The journey has been long; I have stumbled and fallen, and I have made mistakes. They were mine and mine alone, just like the success. I am proud and happy to present this new flagship store in Mumbai, and I hope my patrons are surprised with every visit. I want them to enjoy and revel in the experience of owning a Farah Khan Fine Jewellery design.
Tell us about your recent collaboration with Tanishq.
I met with Tanishq in September, when they visited my design house in Mumbai. We discussed the possibility of designing and manufacturing a collection for them under the Farah Khan brand name, which we launched this year. With this collection, I hope to recreate the magic of Farah Khan design aesthetics for the Tanishq woman, who wants great design in a range that caters to her needs. She aspires to be fashionable yet traditional. It’s a space where dreams spell design; where precious becomes timeless.                                

– as told to Anahita