Van Gelder Indian Jewellery's founder, Bernadette Van Gelder, launches her coffee table book Traditional Indian Jewellery: The Golden Smile of India & Beautiful People at Jaipur's Gyan Museum
Bernadette Van Gelder’s foray into the world of Indian jewellery began more than 30 years ago in an unassuming office the size of a closet. This was the office of Gyan Chandha Dhaddha, a Jaipur-based jeweller whose guidance and mentorship helped Bernadette realise her dream of being a renowned dealer in Indian jewellery. Her brand, Van Gelder Indian Jewellery, is considered one of the experts in traditional Indian jewellery, not just in her native Holland but in Europe as well.
Bernadette had come to India in the ’80s in search of antique jewellery but her quest seemed futile in a country where heirlooms are not seen as ‘antique’ but as living pieces of heritage that are passed down from one generation to another. “I realised I was asking the wrong question. Nobody understood what I meant by ‘antique jewellery’. Not like how we use the term in the west. So when I met Gyan, I asked him for jewellery dating before 1947,” said Bernadette. She was asked to return the next day by the quiet, introspective Gyan, who was wont not to say much. Bernadette and her husband returned the next day and were flabbergasted by the collection Gyan had in store for them: Stunning necklaces in kundan work, bracelets in meenakari, and earrings with sparkling multi-coloured gems. She was asked to pick seven pieces to which Gyan picked three more. He then went on to explain the craftsmanship that went into each piece. What were just beautiful baubles when she arrived turned into so much more by the end of the meeting.
Little did she know that this would be the beginning of a friendship that would last through decades and generations. Gyan Chanda Dhaddha became her friend and mentor in India. Fast forward three decades later, Bernadette’s two daughters, Fleur Damman-van Gelder and Noelle Viguurs-van Gelder, now run the business and are in close touch with Gyan’s sons Arun and Suresh.
The Coffee Table Book. Courtesy: Facebook
It is only appropriate then that Bernadette’s passion project, a two-volume coffee table book on traditional Indian jewellery, would be launched in a museum dedicated to and filled with objets d’art that Gyan had collected during extensive travels over the course of his life. The collection of artefacts, some dating back to over 3,000 years, is housed in a stunning space designed by renowned architect Paul Mathieu. The Gyan Museum (it is apt that ‘Gyan’ also means ‘knowledge’ in Sanskrit) features custom built display cases, hand-knotted rugs, a Murano glass chandelier, and a lobby that is a brilliant shade of white with floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The highlights of the collection include a collection of rare hookahs, Mughal miniatures of the Jaipur royal family, and jade jewellery from Imperial China.
An Excerpt From The Coffee Table Book
The coffee-table book titled Traditional Indian Jewellery: The Golden Smile of India & Beautiful People covers the rich heritage of Indian jewellery and its continued significance in Indian society today. The India launch of the publication follows the international launch at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam where the inaugural copy was presented to Veenu Rajamony, Indian Ambassador to The Netherlands. What is remarkable is that almost all pictures are from the family’s personal collection taken over the years. To give back to the country that has become Bernadette's second home, all proceeds from the sale of the book will go entirely to the Bernadette van Gelder Foundation, committed to Indian female empowerment. Working in tandem with local NGOs in India, the foundation seeks to empower women through education and skill development.
Noelle Viguurs-van Gelder, Suresh Dhaddha, Bernadette Van Gelder, Arun Dhaddha, and Marie Claire van Schooten with the book
The book is available in bookstores and museums at a price of INR 10,800.
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