In the world of bling, the Tongyas are a hal­lowed name, whose sin­gle minded ded­i­ca­tion to craft im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful jew­els has given them name and fame across the world. From a hum­ble lap­idary unit a cen­tury ago to a brand syn­ony­mous with undy­ing pas­sion

Marwar - - Contents - Text Joseph Rozario

In the world of bling, the Tongyas are a hal­lowed name, whose im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful jew­ellery has earned them world­wide renown. From a hum­ble lap­idary unit a cen­tury ago to a brand syn­ony­mous with ex­cel­lence, theirs has been a truly re­mark­able jour­ney.

IN A COUN­TRY WHERE GOLD HAS AN IN­HER­ENT CUL­TURAL and reli­gious con­nect, to be a jew­eller in­deed is a glit­ter­ing pro­fes­sion. To merely craft or­na­ments, how­ever, is one thing and to stand out from the tens of thou­sands of run-of-the-mill jew­ellers that dot the streets and lanes of In­dia is an­other. And then, of course, there are those like the Tongyas of Di­a­color for whom craft­ing jew­ellery is noth­ing short of a divine art— whose sin­gu­lar, over­rid­ing pas­sion is to en­sure that ev­ery pre­cious piece that emerges from their ate­lier is a sub­lime spec­i­men of ma­te­rial, crafts­man­ship and cre­ativ­ity.

The Tongyas’ ex­cep­tional sta­tus and re­pute, how­ever, has not come as a stroke of good for­tune but is a re­sult of a cen­tury of sin­gle-minded ded­i­ca­tion, of which fa­ther-son duo Ra­jku­mar and Rishabh Tongya are liv­ing ex­am­ples. As in­dus­try stal­warts, un­der their lead­er­ship, the fam­ily busi­ness has grown in leaps and bounds into a glob­ally re­puted firm, known for its qual­ity di­a­mond and gem­stone man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, as well as craft­ing ex­cep­tional jew­ellery, which are mar­keted through a global trade and dealer net­work.

Hum­ble be­gin­nings

So how did it all be­gin for the Tongyas? Tak­ing us back to the ear­li­est days of the es­tab­lish­ment, Ra­jku­mar Tongya says, “Our fam­ily hails from Jaipur, Ra­jasthan. My fa­ther, late Chan­dalalji Tongya got into the trade of gem­stone pol­ish­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing al­most about a cen­tury ago and set up a hum­ble lap­idary unit with a team of five ar­ti­sans. He was a pi­o­neer in procur­ing and pro­duc­tion of over a hun­dred dif­fer­ent gem­stones.”

In time, Chan­dalal Tongya started a lap­idary fac­tory in Cam­bay, Gu­jarat, which would re­quire him to travel for a cou­ple of weeks by ship to Burma and back. But like fel­low Mar­waris of his time, he would un­der­take th­ese jour­neys with in­tre­pid­ity, fired by the pas­sion for en­ter­prise, a trait that Ra­jku­mar Tongya says he has picked up from his fa­ther. .

Fol­low­ing Di­a­color's suc­cess in In­dia, the Tongyas have re­cently launched an over­seas of­fice at the Al­mas Tow­ers in Dubai...

Bring­ing on the sparkle

When still an ado­les­cent, Ra­jku­mar joined his fa­ther, un­der whom he ap­pren­ticed ini­tially. Af­ter com­plet­ing his ed­u­ca­tion, he stepped into the world of busi­ness full-time and there­after the fam­ily firm saw steady growth. “Slowly but grad­u­ally we ex­panded to global mar­kets, start­ing with Europe, where I met some of the biggest names in the in­dus­try, and then there was no look­ing back,” says Ra­jku­mar Tongya rem­i­nisc­ing.

In 1980, Ra­jku­mar Tongya started his first com­pany ‘World­wide Ex­ports’, his area of ex­per­tise be­ing pol­ish­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing di­a­monds and coloured gem­stones. Work­ing with the biggest names in the in­dus­try, he went on to pol­ish some very im­por­tant di­a­monds and gem­stones. It has been an up­ward growth tra­jec­tory ever since for the Tongyas, who to­day are a re­puted name in the global jew­ellery arena. Thus, in what be­gan as a hum­ble busi­ness over a hun­dred years ago, the Tongyas have come a long way to carve a niche for them­selves as lead­ers in the jew­ellery in­dus­try, which re­flects in its mam­moth INR 1200 cr turnover in FY 2016- 17. How­ever, in this unusual achieve­ment, Ra­jku­mar’s son, Rishabh Tongya’s con­tri­bu­tions have been im­mense too.

Bling­ing it on

Rishabh, who holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from H R Col­lege of Com­merce (Mum­bai) and has stud­ied gemol­ogy from GIA, New York, stepped into the world of busi­ness af­ter his aca­demics , there­after im­bib­ing knowl­edge and skills un­der his fa­ther for a cou­ple of years be­fore giv­ing wings to his as­pi­ra­tions. “I trav­elled a lot with him ini­tially and then took to my own,” says Rishabh. “I went to var­i­ous mines from Africa to South Amer­ica, sourc­ing gem­stones, and that by far has been the most en­thralling part of the en­tire process for me till date.”

It dawned upon him dur­ing th­ese trav­els that when it comes to con­tem­po­rary jew­ellery, there was a void

in In­dia. “You see th­ese great big stun­ning jew­els abroad, but not so much here," he con­tin­ues. “It was this niche that I wanted to cater to—I wanted to build a brand very much indige­nous to In­dia, but with a con­tem­po­rary de­sign lan­guage and in­ter­na­tional flair and style—a place where a pa­tron could buy fine jew­ellery as well as the rarest, most beau­ti­ful of nat­u­ral stones in purest form."

And with that his brand Di­a­color and the con­cept to lux­ury re­tail was born which has since come to be an im­por­tant busi­ness ver­ti­cal for the Tongyas.

“Di­a­color is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of my as­pi­ra­tions and de­sires,” says Rishabh. “It is a prod­uct of my hard-work, pas­sion and cre­ativ­ity. It im­bibes the val­ues that I grew up with, prin­ci­ples I hold and dreams that I want ful­filled.”

Be­fit­ting its name and fame, Di­a­color’s flag­ship store oc­cu­pies pride of place at New Delhi’s Mecca of lux­ury, the Em­po­rio Mall, where clients are in­tro­duced to the brand and its of­fer­ings through ap­point­ments. Cus­tomers are oth­er­wise ac­quainted with its prod­ucts through ad­ver­tise­ments and word-of-mouth rec­om­men­da­tions, which help it cater to the re­fined tastes of dis­tinc­tive clients. Fol­low­ing Di­a­color's suc­cess in In­dia, the Tongyas have re­cently launched an over­seas of­fice at the Al­mas Tow­ers in Dubai, which caters to the Mid­dleeast mar­ket. But what per­haps takes Tongyas to the pin­na­cle of suc­cess is their re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of ruby and emer­ald mines in Mozam­bique and Columbia re­spec­tively.

Their pre­cious hoard

In their en­deav­our to pur­vey ex­cep­tional gem­stones and jew­ellery, both fa­ther and son in­ci­den­tally also have been adding to

their per­sonal col­lec­tions of gem­stones. This, in fact, has been one of the im­por­tant mile­stones of Ra­jku­mar Tongya’s ca­reer, who owns a vast num­ber of pre­cious and semi pre­cious gem qual­ity stones, as part of his per­sonal col­lec­tion. Th­ese in­clude some of the finest Zam­bian emer­alds in the world which stand out for their im­mense depth and mes­meris­ing green colour; lus­cious red Mozam­bi­can ru­bies of breath­tak­ing ra­di­ance; flaw­less di­a­monds that per­son­ify the mar­vels of na­ture; and more. In ad­di­tion, he has re­cently pur­chased the ‘In­sofu’ emer­ald at an auc­tion by Gem­fields in Lusaka, which, at 6100 carats, is one of the largest and finest emer­alds that have been ever mined. Dis­cov­ered at the Kagem mine in Lufwanyama, In­sofu— ‘baby ele­phant’ in the lo­cal Bemba lan­guage and so named to re­flect Gem­fields’ sup­port for wildlife con­ser­va­tion and re­spon­si­ble min­ing prac­tices—is con­sid­ered “ex­cep­tional” by in­dus­try ex­perts be­cause of its large size, clar­ity and colour.

In Rishabh’s case, how­ever, per­sonal col­lec­tion apart, a good many ex­cep­tional stones have also made their way into his ex­clu­sive jew­ellery that gives his brand Di­a­color the name and fame it com­mands across the world.

The road ahead

So far, so good for the Tongyas, but what about the fu­ture? “I wish to see Di­a­color at the pin­na­cle of lux­ury glob­ally. It has been re­ceived phe­nom­e­nally well as a high-end jew­ellery brand, and there is def­i­nitely a whole lot more to look for­ward to,” replies Rishabh Tongya.

And how does his fa­ther feel about it all, hav­ing achieved so much in life. “Rather in­ter­est­ing and event­ful. Ev­ery day is a new be­gin­ning and a new learn­ing. What makes it worth­while is know­ing that ir­re­spec­tive of cir­cum­stances my prin­ci­ples and be­lieves stayed un-wa­vered,” says Ra­jku­mar Tongya. In a slightly dif­fer­ent vein, the vet­eran coun­sels, “What­ever part of the world you may be from, the val­ues with which you con­duct your­self and your busi­ness will speak vol­umes for you and earn you re­spect. It has been my in­tegrity that shone through the prod­ucts I pre­sented to the clients and un­com­pro­mised qual­ity, full dis­clo­sure and trans­parency in my deal­ings are a few things that I have lived by all through my years.”

In­spir­ing words in­deed, es­pe­cially for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of the Tongyas, who have much to learn from some­one who has been the lode­stone of the fam­ily busi­ness for so many years! From a small lap­idary unit to a world­wide name, his role in aug­ment­ing the fam­ily busi­ness, en­rich­ing the world of gems with his beau­ti­ful of­fer­ings and, most im­por­tantly, in groom­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to carry on the good work is truly wor­thy of com­men­da­tion

I wish to see Di­a­color at the pin­na­cle of lux­ury glob­ally. It has been re­ceived phe­nom­e­nally well as a high- end jew­ellery brand, and there is def­i­nitely a whole lot more to look for­ward to

Fac­ing page: Ra­jku­mar Tongya (right) with son Rishabh; Above/left: Some of Di­a­color's breath­tak­ing jew­ellery

Clock­wise from top, left: Ra­jku­mar Tongya in­spect­ing the 'In­sofu'— one of the world's largest and finest emer­alds— now in the pos­ses­sion of the Tongyas; Ra­jku­mar Tongya with an il­lus­tri­ous di­a­mond; The 'In­sofu'

Clock­wise from above: The Di­a­color store in New Delhi; Brand am­bas­sador for Di­a­color, Princess of Jammu and Kash­mir, Mri­g­anka Singh; A model flaunt­ing el­e­gant Di­a­color ear­rings

Top: Rishabh Tongya with wife Divya; Right: A Di­a­color cre­ation

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