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Mumbai Designer Uses 14,080 Diamonds for 'Twin Towers'

Aug 1, 2006 4:00 PM   By Jeff Miller
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To mark the 100th anniversary of the JA New York Show and to commemorate the tragedy befallen New York City on September 11, 2001, jewelry designer Nayna Mehta created what she calls Twin Towers. The piece, showcased at JA New York's new products section, was on display at the Jacob Javits Convention Center throughout the four-day trade show beginning July 30, 2006.  (To view full image of the Twin Towers scroll to the end of the story.)

Twin Towers has an 18 karat yellow gold base and supporting structure for 14,080 diamonds (total weight 255 carats.) The floors of both towers are represented using  110 rows of diamonds, using princess cut stones measuring 1.4mm each. At the base of the World Trade Center replica, Mehta inscribed a poem she wrote in memory of nearly 3,000 lives lost.


Designer Nayna Mehta and Twin Towers. The following poem, written by Mehta, is engraved on the base:

Those innocent souls, we never forgot
United us all in a single breath.

We shed not tears, only our doubts,
Vowed to destroy all vicious clouts.

Stronger we rose, with a will so bold,
As hard as diamonds and as pure as gold.

Victorious we emerged, its plain to see,
So come join this anthem and sing with me.

God Bless America

"The memory of those people --just like diamonds-- are forever," Mehta said during an interview with Rapaport News at JA New York. From the project's inception, Mehta estimates it took almost six months to design, create, and build the Twin Towers. 

Mehta has been a jewelry designer for some 30 years and operates out of Mumbai where she is the director of Aura Jewellery PVT LTD and has partnership with Bombay Jewellery Manufacturers.

To recreate the Twin Towers she used a variety of techniques including  invisible setting and gold rolling. The Twin Towers was manufactured using the lost wax casting technique that involves setting the diamonds in wax while the surrounding parts were all hand made. The entire process engaged some  38 artists, designers, and technicians. The piece is mounted on a rosewood base and encased within a removable acrylic box.

There were some obstacles Mehta and her team had to overcome, she said, in particular it was a challenge working with  invisible setting techniques.  Procuring the correct diamonds according to Mehta's  strict specifications of size, color, and clarity was not easy either.

Mehta said that a percentage of proceeds from the eventual sale of the Twin Towers would be donated to a cause in support of those victims from the World Trade Center disaster.

Market Conditions

Her husband, Samir Mehta, who acts as advisor to Aura Jewellery said that launching Nayna's commemorative piece was a first -- as was the couple's inaugural participation at JA's summer show. While their jewelry pieces --consisting of earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets-- have been displayed at the show through wholesale partnerships in the past, Samir was pleased with his first experience as an exhibitor.

The general state of the industry continues to overcome shock from gold prices Samir said, and it is anyone's guess when prices will stabilize.  The rise in gold during the second quarter of 2006 hit manufacturing costs especially hard and pushed price points past what  consumers could digest.  "Consumers have a difficult time when jewelry prices go up and  all they see is that their electronics’ prices are going down -- their view is that everything should be going down," he told Rapaport.

Jewelers must think of new ways to drive up demand without sacrificing quality of design Samir said.  He used one example, which is working in the Southern Hemisphere, to prove his point. While Christmas season is traditionally hot for jewelry --especially in the United States and Europe-- the gift giving season is sparkling with Santa Claus and snowmen scenes Samir said.

"That doesn’t work in the south when it is summertime at Christmas." Samir found that jewelers in the Southern Hemisphere have shown some success in driving demand during mid-year, or when their region is in full winter season and consumers are in more of a shopping mood.

"It is these things we must use to innovate the industry without sacrificing a piece" due to higher operating costs and continued volatile gold prices, he said.

The Mehtas have been experimenting away from gold with some designs being created using silver with diamonds.  Nayna said that the verdict is still out on whether or not such a combination would remain popular with consumers for the long term.

The couple's son, Nihar Mehta, is a partner in Bombay Jewellery Manufacturers and said that the trends of 2005 continue to hold for 2006. In particular: Diamond jewelry demand in Europe is a little slower than in the United States, but in Europe the demand is clearly leaning towards "highest quality no matter the price."

In the United States buyers continue to look for ways to trim costs, which often translates into pieces with lower grade diamonds, he said.
Full view of Twin Towers:


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Tags: Consumers, Jewelry, Manufacturing, United States
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Aug 24, 2006 4:45PM    By MARGIE
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