What an opportunity!
When Paula (The head of JM) asked me if I would be interested in going to India, China and Hong Kong for 8 days on behalf of JM I didn’t have to think too hard I can tell you. I’d said, “YES” before she had finished asking me the question. The opportunity to travel to the other side of the world to see, first hand where our gemstone strands come from was incredibly exciting, not to mention the chance to experience massively different cultures!
Our trip would start in Jaipur and end in Hong Kong and over the 8 days myself and Chloe (head of production on JM) would visit gems faceting facilities, copper bead and resin factories, rough stone markets, we would also see how quality control processes are carried out on strands…. basically the whole process from beginning to end! 8 days didn’t seem long enough, but it was, just! It was the most jam packed, rewarding, exciting, interesting, scary and exhausting 8 days of my life! What a trip!
A journey to Jaipur
The first adventure was getting to Jaipur! Chloe, who incidentally is petrified of flying (so am I but tried not to let on) and I took a flight to Delhi and a connecting flight to Jaipur. The connecting flight only took about 20 minutes, which made me wonder why we didn’t go by road. I later found out that during the rainy season, which was when we were there, there is not a reliable road going into Jaipur as it gets flooded. This was one of the many reasons why I believe Jaipur is such an incredible place. Even though it’s a very difficult place to get to it is regarded by many to be the hub of the gemstone world, and I was about to find 101 other reasons why Jaipur is such a magical place.
Chloe and I with Prakash and Pramod.
Firstly the people in Jaipur are some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered. The team in Jaipur are wonderful. Pankaj, Pramod, Prakash along with Sharmil and Biplab are a fantastic team. But it wasn’t just the JM team who were friendly, every workshop and factory we visited we were greeted by smiling faces.
The streets of Jaipur, with added cows!
Jaipur is an attack on the senses! The constant sound of car horns are alarming when you first arrive in the city but within 24 hours you are used to them. Cows, donkeys, pigs, dogs, camels and goats roam the streets and people just drive round them. The sights, sounds (and smells) of Jaipur are truly incredible… Oh and then there’s the gemstones!
We tend to get a lot of our ‘Gems of Distinction’ strands from Jaipur and we had the chance to go and see the strands being made. I expected a fairly detailed process, carried out by skilled craftsmen. What Chloe and I learnt was incredible. We stood and stared on in awe as each gemstone was cut, faceted, drilled and stranded by hand. It is a hugely skilled, time consuming process which can take around 45 minutes for each gemstone. To see the process first hand was awesome, if a little sad when I think back to a game on JM where 200 strands of high quality black Spinel can sell out in under 5 minutes!
We were lucky enough to visit a copper bead factory and a workshop where our Lac beads come from. What struck me about both places was the pride which people take in their work. The attention to detail applied to the Lac beads for instance is breathtaking. Each bead is unique and each craftsman uses their own flair to make each bead their own.
The walls of the Pink City; Jaipur.
The highlights of Jaipur for me were seeing our gemstones being faceted, visiting the copper and resin bead workshop experiencing some of the best food I’ve ever tasted and riding an elephant!
It was one of the best professional experiences and life experiences I’ve had. Jaipur has definitely left a lasting impression on Chloe and I. We packed so much into the few days we were there and I would love the chance to go back (hint hint Paula!) I really hope you get a sense of what a special place Jaipur is from the footage you see on the channel over the next few weeks.