A life journey that was preordained
but a destiny decided by personal responsibility
Rahul Jauhari, Director of Sales and Marketing at Kunming Diamonds.
The New Generation is a WDC News Update series that tells the stories of up-and-coming diamond industry leaders, examining the role that they see for themselves, in the business and the diamond itself. Each article in the series is delivered in the person’s own voice.
The second article in the series features Rahul Jauhari, Director of Sales and Marketing at Kunming Diamonds, a leading supplier of natural fancy-colored diamonds.
That I would one day be involved in the diamond industry was pre-ordained by my family name. It is “Jauhari,” which in Hindi means one who is involved in the business of diamonds, gems and jewelry.
I am Rahul Jauhari, a fourth generation diamantaire. My family began its journey in the industry almost 80 years ago, when my great grandfather started a trading company in the city that was then known as Calcutta, and today is called Kolkatta. Located in West Bengal, near the modern-day border with Bangladesh, it served as the capital of India for 138 years during the time of the British Raj, and was a very significant business center.
In the early days, our family was purely involved in the trading of diamonds and gemstones, but in the early 1940s the company moved to the ancient city of Varanasi, on the Ganges River in what today is the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was well known for the cutting and polishing of rose-cut diamonds.
My forebears set up a polishing unit in the company, which helped us develop into a significant supplier of rose-cut diamonds across India. The business achieved new heights when my grandfather introduced pink enamelled jewellery and artefacts studded with rose-cut diamonds and gemstones.
From the factory floor to the executive office
In the late 1980s, while I was still in my early childhood, my immediate family moved to Mumbai. From an early age, I was always curious to know more about my family business and was fascinated by high-end jewelry and luxury brands. As I said, my pathway into the industry was pre-ordained.
My journey began in the early 2000s, in diamond cutting and polishing. This is the tried and proven way of so many in our businesses – starting out on the factory floor, learning the mystery of the diamond through sight and touch, holding it on a tang, positioning it against the wheel, lifting and examining it, then do that once again. I got an extensive hands-on training.
Having spent two years absorbing the basics of the product, I was looking for a more structured way of continuing learning about the business of diamonds, working within an organization. In 2005, I joined Gitanjali as part of a core team responsible for international expansion and retailing. The time I spent with them, ending in 2012, provided me with an immense understanding of branding and retailing at a global level.
It was more than that – it was a passion, and it drove me pursue a career in luxury management. To broaden my perspective and understanding, the next stop in my journey was at a leading gemological laboratory. I was appointed the Commercial Director at HRD Antwerp-India in late 2013. It was a role that not only deepened my understanding of the science and technical perspectives of the diamond, but it also allowed me to work closely with most of the leading diamond companies in the country. I will always be grateful for their support, which helped me grow HRD’s business in India many times over.
I was now ready for the mainstream of the business, dealing in solitaires, and I joined Star Rays, one of India’s leading De Beers sightholders. Coming from the disciplined and transparent world of gemology, this move was made particularly easy because of the highest level of morals and ethics that Star Rays always stood for. It was a company that made me feel part of its family.
Author Rahul Jauhari (center) at an industry event in 2022 with WDC Vice President Feriel Zerouki (left) and WDC Executive Director Elodie Daguzan.
It was the unshaken confidence in me shown by Mr Jitesh Shah, a partner in Star Rays, which gave me the courage to begin the company’s journey towards carbon neutrality. This was in 2018, when the very concept was alien to many in our industry.
Sustainability and traceability were two pillars of my strategy. It was during this period that I became part of the Young Diamantaire’s core committee. I thank Mr Rami Baron for that opportunity.
I never thought that after having spent two decades in the industry, in a variety of areas and positions, my next role would transport me into the world of natural fancy colored diamonds, at Kunming Diamonds, one of the leading companies in this space. Mr Ajay Maheshwari, owner and managing director of the company, and his sons Harsh and Shubham, also have welcomed me as family. With a worldwide presence, the company is headquartered in Hong Kong, while I am based in Mumbai.
I am excited about the new challenge. I have spent just a few months in this role, but I am already fascinated by this sector of our business, feeling that it provides a combination of art and science. Fancy diamonds can be compared easily with the businesses of rare paintings, and other arts and collectables. It is the true epitome of luxury
What lies between us and being a stone in the sand
Like all luxury products, the value of the fancy-colored diamond, and indeed of all natural diamonds, is entirely dependent on the confidence that our end consumers have in their integrity. This is not something that we can take for granted, especially in the age in which we live, where information is readily available to all and can be spread onward and widely in an instant.
But, in 2022, the integrity of information cannot be taken for granted either. Truth, too, has become a valuable commodity. What you see online and what you are told is not necessarily fact. Full transparency is of paramount importance, as are tried and proven methods of verification. Our consumers are increasingly aware of this.
As an individual who has devoted his career to learning, understanding and marketing diamonds, I am acutely aware of the need to protect the precious bond of trust that exists between supplier and client, knowing full well that, even when my customers’ faith in me is implicit, they realize that I too rely on the integrity of those in the supply chain that come before me.
It’s why organizations like the World Diamond Council, and chains of verification like its System of Warranties, are so important and are today essential components of an ancient business operating in a modern world.
Rahul Jauhari (third from right) and other members of the Young Diamantaires Group, being hosted by the Natural Diamond Council during the JCK Show in Las Vegas in June 2022.
The diamond that has fascinated me my entire life is transformed into the ultimate symbol of precious luxury by the belief that is bestowed upon it by the consuming public. Without the latter, the former is but another stone in the sand. Our obligation as the industry privileged to work with this fascinating gemstone is to understand its character, legacy and science, and to do all that is necessary, wherever we are located in the value chain, to defend and protect its integrity and reputation.