||Divya Dhariwal is not just a jeweler, she's an artist. You see, she designs fabulous pieces of jewelry. She's so good that her work is already being copied by others and a prominent jeweler in Geneva recently asked her to come and study with him.|
Divya got into the business by
happenstance. A native of Oakville, Ontario, she attended St. Hilda's School and
was set to study for an MBA, until she met her future husband, Vinit, while he
was on one of his visits to North America. Vinit, who was based in Thailand at
the time, made many business trips to New York, but he had friends in Toronto
who also knew Divya and her family and the rest is history. The couple met when
Divya was seventeen and they married four years later. Both Vinit and Divya's
families come from Northern India.
After meeting Vinit, Divya
immediately became interested in jewelry and decided to study jewelry design and
jewelry manufacturing through the Gemological Institute of America. Divya also
took courses on a one-on-one basis from Nancy Querllice. Divya says, "She
was a very talented lady and although she was 78 at the time, she was totally
familiar with the latest trends and techniques of the jewelry industry. Nancy
had lived in France and worked as a freelance designer all her life, until she
decided it was time for her to retire, which is when she chose to settle in
The Dhariwals' company is
called BV Intertrade, and it mainly concentrates on exports. Divya and Vinit
attend a lot of fairs, where they develop personal relations with their clients.
"Ours is a very young
company," says Divya. "It's not large and it doesn't have a huge
turnover, but that is not our focus. We constantly aim for customer
satisfaction. Our success is and will be based on the continuity of new designs,
personal supervision of all pieces of jewelry being produced and being there
personally for all customers. If we expanded too fast, we would lose sight of
Many jewelers don't always
manufacture their own jewelry due to overload, a lack of supervisors or simply a
lack of interest. That's where companies like BV Intertrade comes in.
Why did BV set up shop here?
Well you see, Bangkok is a gem port. It's well-known for its blue sapphires and
rubies. "The cutting and polishing factories for gemstones are concentrated
in the Chantaburi and Kanchanaburi regions, bringing in prospective buyers from
around the world," says Divya.
The secret to the Thai gem
trade lies in the skillful handwork of cutting, polishing and setting of
gemstones for which the Thais are especially gifted. The workers have such
soft hands, and the skill and tradition they've learned over the years
makes them very special. Also, as Vinit has been in Thailand for a number of
years (he grew up here), his knowledge of the language and the people works in
favor of the company.
Divya and her husband employ
about 30 people in their Sukhumvit factory, but it is designed just for handmade
creations and the setting of gemstones. The Dhariwals are however looking for a
new site so they can integrate their existing handmade factory with a casting
factory with state-of-the-art German technology. This would allow them to mass
produce items and make as many pieces as they want through casting, and then
having the stones inlaid later. Right now, BV Intertrade acts as an intermediary
giving out casting jobs to other companies.
You see Divya has two types of customers: high-end jewelers tend to want individual handmade pieces, but the middle segment which basically means stores with more than one outlet require maybe 100 or more pieces of the same design. It is far more economical to mass produce by casting rather than doing the work by hand, but the setting of stones in all pieces of jewelry is always done by hand at BV. So the company has to try and keep both types of clients happy.
So what type of jewelry does BV
Intertrade deal with? Mainly 14k gold, 18k gold or platinum stones e.g.
diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. It doesn't deal with plain gold or
silver jewelry, but it does deal with semi-precious stones.
And where does Divya get the
inspiration for her designs? She says she doesn't look at other jewelry when
trying to pick up ideas for new designs. She likes to look at architecture,
photographs, natural scenes, furniture - anything but jewelry - and she has
gotten a number of ideas from just window shopping. Sometimes she dreams her
creations, so she keeps a paper and pen bedside. Divya best describes her
jewelry style as, "classic, simple and no frills."
When Divya moved to Bangkok,
Vinit was selling loose gemstones, and Divya started working as a freelance
jewelry designer. So the couple would go to different factories and get her
designs made. The problem was that Divya's designs were soon copied and in some
cases people would even try to sell her back her own designs. So the Dhariwals
decided to open their own factory to have better control over their creations.
Looking back, Divya says,
"It was the toughest challenge of my life. Since we had acquired a running
operation rather than starting from scratch it required all the patience in the
world to get a better understanding of the working environment of the factory.
To try and make the workers see things from a different angle wasn't easy and to
prepare them for change was the hardest of all, but our patience and
understanding has finally paid off. Now our workers trust us and we trust them.
We are trying to revive high quality craftsmanship, an inherent skill learned
from generations of handwork, by constantly trying to introduce and teach new
techniques of the trade to our craftsman."
Now, with so many jewelers in
town, why should people shop with BV Intertrade? "First, no one should just
deal with one jeweler. There are so many different designers and they all
think differently, so people should shop around. But if you do deal with
us, our quality is very good, we have invested in technology and we train our
staff very well. Most companies here just get by when it comes to operating
procedure but we place a huge emphasis on quality control. And if I tell you
that I am making a piece especially for you, I mean that, I won't market it
|Trust is so important in the jewelry business, and people like dealing with Divya because they know and trust her. They know that if they have a problem with a piece of jewelry they have bought from her, or elsewhere, they can always call her and talk about it.|
And what about some tips for
shopping for jewelry? Divya says that to ensure you are a getting a good deal
and value for your money, as well as a piece of jewelry that is a delight to
wear, you should shop around a bit, take your time and only deal with a reputed
and recommended jeweler.
Since we have spent most of the
article talking about Divya, it's only fair if we take some time to talk about
her darling hubby, Vinit. "He's a very level-headed person," Divya
says, "As it wasn't a family business, he started in the jewelry trade at a
very low level and worked his way up. He has a tremendous knowledge of diamonds
and other stones, which he has picked up from his training and working with
another company for five years before starting BV Intertrade. He believes in
working very hard."
Divya has also done some work
for friends and acquaintances she met through the CWG, and they have been very
happy with the pieces they received from her. BV Intertrade has also supported
the CWG's Valentine Ball and the TCCC's Thanksgiving Ball by giving pieces of
jewelry at cost for the silent auction the past couple of years.
She is also the Welfare Chair
and VP of the Canadian's Women's Group where she plays a big role with their
Valentine's Day Ball. She has also helped out the TCCC with Canada Day and the
Thanksgiving Day Ball. She has done and continues to do a lot of good work with
Divya says that one day she
wants to start her own line of jewelry but right now she is still learning the
ropes and gaining valuable experience by learning techniques and the tricks of
the trade here in Bangkok.
Tel: (662) 863-2416
Fax: (662) 863-1632