India’s Coolest Store Awards 2021
Celebrating India’s High-Achieving Jewellery Retailers
The second edition of India’s Coolest Store Awards (ICSA), organized by the Indian Jeweller Magazine, got underway in the Capital at the prestigious Taj Palace on September 28, amidst much fanfare.
The high-octane event saw the participation of a number of big names of the gems and jewellery industry, all of whom were eager to find out who among them would bag the coveted awards, which were presented in 14 categories. In all, there were 27 winners and runners-up across various segments.
In keeping with the ‘cool’ mood, the awards were presented by the supercool actress, Chitrangada Singh, with RJ Siddharth Kannan being the master of ceremonies. And then there was MC Sid (Siddharth Sood), who kept the audience in splits with his rapping and instant quips about the jewellers.
The awards were instituted three years ago to recognize excellence in the jewellery retail space, and the commitment of retail jewellers to provide the best shopping experience to customers, as also to celebrate the most creative brand promotions and advertising strategies.
Talking about the event, organizer Arpit Kala, said, “These awards are a recognition of the efforts and endeavours of store owners to not just satisfy their patrons, but delight them at every step of their purchase journey. The jewellery retail landscape of India has already undergone a sea-change, and we are now poised to take on the best-of-the best anywhere in the world. We hope that the awards give a fillip to store owners to keep adding innovative and creative elements to their shopping space and their brand messaging.
This year, apart from ‘The Best Ambience’, special new categories were added to the list – ‘The Coolest Place to Work In’, ‘The Wokest Brand’, ‘The Most Tech-Savvy ’, ‘The Samaritan of the Year’, ‘The Coolest Campaign’, and ‘The Coolest Success Story’. The regionwise categories included North (Large & Boutique), South (Large & Boutique), West (Large and Boutique) and East.
The Best Ambienc- Winner
VRK Jewels by Khanna Jewellers, New Delhi
Legacy: A fledgling venture of the 68-year-old institution, Khanna Jewellers, VRK by Khanna is an attempt to diversify into the world of fresh, modern and experimental jewellery pieces.
Ambience: Located in Delhi’s posh DLF Emporio, VRK by Khanna has been designed by renowned interior designer Iram Sultan. An impeccable jewellery boudoir, the pearlescent walls and the plush interiors exude an aura of sophistication. Earthy tones and soft lighting complement the modern appeal of the store.
Size: 800 sq-ft
Cool Factor: Smart use of space, which reinstates the fact that compact spaces can be totally cool too!
USP: No dividing counters; large tables along with seating encourages visitors to sit together and experience jewellery- buying in a casual, yet sophisticated, manner.
The Best Ambience-Runnerup
KK Jewels - Diamond Boutique, Ahmedabad
Ambience: This store is conceptualized to create an immersive experience using fluid forms, a monotone palette along with custom designed furniture. The idea was to transform a narrow, long space into one that feels tactual and grand to enhance the experience of buying everyday diamond jewellery. The layout of the store directs its customers with fluidity towards each section – with pauses created at intervals by display areas.
Size: 1561 sq-ft
Cool Factor: Capsule shaped niches that line the walls with contrasting displays adding primary focus to the jewellery
USP: Exclusive pods that adorn the wall to house statement diamond jewellery, custom-made furniture that is ergonomic and bridal display niches
THE MOST TECH SAVVY-Winner
NAC Jewellers, Chennai
Legacy: NAC Jewellers began almost hundred years ago in 1917, when Nathella Narayana Chetty started a small jewellery business at home where he fashioned hand-made jewels for a few loyal patrons. His son, Nathella Anantham Chetty opened a small store in Parry’s Corner in old Madras, which soon became a flourishing business. His son, N. Anjaneyulu Chetty, founded NAC Jewellers and nourished the brand, along with his son Anantha Padmanabhan, who transformed the small store into a chain of jewellery stores. Today, Anand Ramanujam, the fifth generation scion of this illustrious family, continues the legacy of his forefathers
Tech-savvy features: Ecommerce websites for high-end jewellery, as well as light weight jewellery (stylori.com), exclusive ecommerce website for silver jewellery and ALIVE video shopping feature
Cool factor: Clear demarcation of product categories with three exclusive e-commerce websites: one for high end jewellery, one for lightweight everyday jewellery and one for silver jewellery
THE MOST TECH SAVVY-Runner Up
Kameswari Jewellers, Visakhapatnam
Legacy: A fourth generation family business, Kameswari Jewellers’ journey started in a small town in Srikakulam in 1925. Under the guidance of Perla Samba Murthy, the brand has grown manifold. His sons, Pavan and Koushik Perla, have taken the brand to newer heights, by making it fully digital, while also starting international operations in 2018 with a base in California.
Tech-savvy: Full-fledged e-commerce platform with over 4000 SKUs, virtual try-on function, video call appointment booking, Whatsapp catalog support, automated bots, 24 hour live chat support, high-end imagery
Cool factor: Integration of tech in social media applications like Instagram, making shopping easier, as well as one of the pioneers in changing consumer mindset regarding buying jewellery online with purity and trust as pillars.
THE COOLEST STORE TO WORK IN-Winner
Manoj Vaibhav Gems N Jewellers Pvt. Ltd., Visakhapatnam
Legacy: The Vaibhav group traces its roots to the small town of Eluru where it made a humble beginning in the early 20th century. The group is now an established name in the jewellery business. Four generations of business lineage, knowledge and expertise in this domain has been a key to the group’s success with over 12 stores in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Staff strength: 996
Employee policy: Medical allowance, educational scholarships for employees’ children, self-development schemes, marriage-gift scheme, frequent motivation and recreational sessions, robust incentive schemes
Work culture: Fostering a positive atmosphere with constant encouragement, good salary packages and benefits, cash rewards, paid holidays, yearly cultural and sports events
Cool factor: Management programmes for best-performing employees, counselling for staff and their children with regard to best educational institution
THE COOLEST STORE TO WORK IN- Runner Up
Kashi Jewellers, Kanpur
Staff strength: 550
Employee policy: Annual bonus, medical insurance, frequent staff-sponsored trips and outings, in house training, pension and family pension schemes
Work Culture: Fully sponsored outings, education and motivational activities for employees, recreational clubs, positive work environment
Cool Factor: Highest retention rate with employees working more than 50 years and maximum number of female staff from all walks of life
THE WOKEST BRAND-Winner
Bhima Jewellery, Trivandrum
Legacy: Bhima Jewellery is a brand with a 97-year-old legacy, started by Lakshmi Narayana Bhattar, popularly known as BHIMA BHATTAR- a pioneer in the jewellery retail sector. Over the years, Bhima has built a strong customer base, with over 55 stores. Bhima turns 100 in 3 years, and as a brand with such credibility Bhima believes in lending its voice to causes that matter today.
• The Pure as Love campaign with a transwoman as its ambassador
• Anti-dowry campaign in 2018-19
• Introducing gender-fluid designs
• 40% of its business development committee is reserved for women
• Top sales people are all women
• Equal pay, regardless of gender
THE WOKEST BRAND-Runner Up
Sona Chandis, Kanpur
Legacy: With hard work and persistence, in the year 1999, first showroom of “Sona Chandis” saw its dawn. “Hamari Sacchai Aapka Vishvas” - is the inner feeling of the group which has been successfully conveyed to its customers, enabling the brand to generate strong relations with its customers which have been carried on from one generation to another.
• Sona Chandis launched campaign “MANGLA” an initiative for social inclusion and equality of transgender people.
• Trans people experience extreme social exclusion, increased vulnerability, limited access to education and employment and loss of opportunities for economic and social advancement – this campaign seeks to change this
• Sona Chandis “MANGLA” introduced transgender people to the world of beauty and jewellery, while creating new opportunities for them.
THE COOLEST AD CAMPAIGN-Winner
Abaran Timeless Jewellery, Bengaluru
Concept: “The Wedding”, featuring Ayyo Shraddha by ABARAN Timeless Jewellery, was launched at a time when the whole of India was recovering from the second wave of the pandemic, and therefore touched a chord with every viewer. It brings the required comic relief, while juxtaposing the finesse of Abaran Timeless Jewellery, which the artiste exclaims to be the ‘bride’s best friend.
Cool Factor: The subtle play of humour about traditional south Indian weddings, while focusing on the rituals as well as traditional jewellery by Abaran Timeless
Newness: Roping in a digital influencer known for her wit and comic timing, who also has a fair bit of following down south Reach: The campaign got over 5 lakh views In under 24 hrs.
THE COOLEST AD CAMPAIGN-Runner Up
JOS ALUKKAS, Coimbatore
Concept: Jos Alukkas rolled out a campaign, Shine On Girl, that intended to spark a change in the longterm repressive mentality against women across the country. The ‘shine’ of the jewels is metaphorically compared to the shine of the women who face numerous obstacles on a daily basis.
Cool Factor: The strong ideology of women empowerment that is expressed with great cinematic value and story telling, while focusing on the beautiful shine of diamonds
Newness: The film, through its multiple protagonists from all walks of life, demonstrates the various hurdles faced by women, and in the end, features actress Trisha, who also talks about the difficulties she faced in making it big in the world of cinema.
Reach: 25 lakh views across multiple social media channels
THE SAMARITAN OF THE YEAR-Winner
C. Krishniah Chetty Group of Jewellers, Bengaluru
Legacy: C. Krishniah Chetty Group is a brand that has held a special place in the hearts of Indian & international clientele for over 150 years. Today, with six luxury showrooms and boutiques across Bengaluru, C. Krishniah Chetty Group is referred to as a trendsetter in quality, in craftsmanship, in premium and luxurious design, where the company practices its ethos to ensure that every customer derives the maximum value.
Landmark CSR initiatives:
• Construction and renovation of government schools
• Organized “NO BAD TOUCH” workshop for more than 500 children in order to sensitize the underprivileged children about sexual abuse
• Scholarship programmes for underprivileged kids
• Distribution of food to migrant families during lockdown
• Traffic warden program wherein 28 employees, along with Managing Director and Director of the company, perform16 hours of traffic duty with Bengaluru City Traffic Police department
THE SAMARITAN OF THE YEAR-Runner Up
Aisshpra Gems and Jewels, Gorakhpur
Legacy: Today, Aisshpra is one of the leading jewellers in the state of UP. One on one customer service and trust has always been the corner of Aisshpra as a brand. As the enterprise completed 81 years, Atul Saraf and his sons, Vaibhav and Saumitra, also joined in after completing their education. Within a few years, the family decided to become the Progressive Jeweller of the region and took on the name AISSHPRA GEMS & JEWELS and built the fundamentals of Vision, Mission and Values.
Landmark CSR initiatives:
• Tree plantation drive
• Walls of Change, spreading awareness through graffiti
• Jewellery gifting to underprivileged brides
• Sponsoring higher education of brilliant students who are underprivileged
• Beautification of police booths and streets and junctions in Gorakhpur city
• Adoption of schools in underprivileged areas
THE COOLEST SUCCESS STORY-Winner
PNG Jewellers, Pune
Legacy: The brilliant success saga in the history of jewellery in India began in the year 1832, at Sangli, when Ganesh Narayan Gadgil set up “Purushottam Narayan Gadgil & Co”. In 1958, Late. Dajikaka Gadgil who was a visionary himself took the brand to newer heights with his creative instincts and keen business acumen by moving the business and shifting base to Pune. The landmark achievement of the brand was its first branch under Dajikaka on Laxmi Road, which was earlier known as Cloth Mart Road was soon recognized as ‘Gold Mart Road’ in Pune. PNG Jewellers today has 35 branches spreads across India and one in USA & one in Dubai.
Growth & expansion:
With over 35 branches, brand sees an annual turnover of over Rs 2000 crores and has been the source of employment for more than 1300 people Success factors:
• The brand has forayed into hospitality, education, real estate, VFX Studio as well as Diamond Jewellery manufacturing
• First jeweller in Pune to sell only certified diamonds
• State-of-the-art e-commerce website
• Try-in kiosks where customers can try on jewellery virtually
• Adaptation of IFO-Initial Franchise offering model that ensures the brand’s reach even in the smallest of towns of Maharashtra
THE COOLEST SUCCESS STORY-Winner
Khimji Jewellers, Bhubaneshwar
Legacy: A wonderful journey which began long back before India got Independence started by Late Sri Khimji Dayabhai, the man who built a ‘timeless legacy of trust”. The first organised jewellery store in Odisha established as early as 1936. With a small single store, presently Khimji KDS has expanded over 6 cities and spanning an area of about 70,000sft. Khimji KDS has many firsts under its wings. They are the first multilevel jewellery store in Bubaneshwar, the first jeweller to get BIS certified hallmarked jewellery and also the first in Odisha to sell certified diamonds.
Growth & expansion:
With six branches, the brand sees an annual turnover of over and employs more than 550 people Success factors:
• First organized retailer in Bhubaneshwar
• First jeweller in Odisha to provide BIS certified hallmarked jewellery,
• Opened largest jewellery store in Eastern India spanning over 20,000 sq-ft
• Diversification of business into
• Becomes the only jeweller to be featured on 100 Iconic Jewellers of India
• Directors Dinesh & Kishore Khimji receive life time achievement awards at IIJS in 2017
KK Jewels - Diamond Boutique, Ahmedabad
Legacy: KK Jewels’ story began in 2006 when Kailash Kabra decided to venture into the world of jewellery at the tender age of 21. KK Jewels store was established in the year 2017 as the brand witnessed a steady demand from young and new clients. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, KK Jewels embarked on a new journey with an exclusive boutique for diamond jewellery, KK Jewels Diamond Boutique.
Size: 1561 sq-ft
USP: Exclusive pods that adorn the wall, to house statement diamond jewellery, custom-made furniture that is ergonomic and bridal display niches
WEST BOUTIQUE FORMAT-Runner Up
Chheda Jewellers, Mumbai
Legacy: 27 years ago, with the same vision and ambition, Chheda Jewellers Private Limited – now CJ – was established firmly as a ‘nextdoor gold jewellery store’. Today, CJ prides itself as one of the most prominent and esteemed Bridal & Fashion Jewellery brands in Vile Parle, Mumbai. Its aim is to facilitate an exclusive & luxurious jewellery shopping experience.
Cool Factor: Every jewel available at the store is designed and crafted by the in-house team. This ensures that every jewel is made with care and only best quality gemstones and hallmarked gold goes in the making of their creations
USP: The lounge is designed keeping the privacy and comfort of a bride to be and her family in mind. The luxury space gives a personalized experience to the family where they are also catered with food & Beverages while they browse through the jewels
R Narayan Jewellers, Vadodara
Legacy: The brand was founded by late Ambalal Chaturbhai Chokshi in 1940 from a small store in Mandvi; the heart of Vadodara city. R Narayan’s true legacy lies in its core values & ethics of quality, design & customer service. In this globalized world, what keeps the brand grounded & triumphant is its deeprooted business ethos combined with expertise and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing clientele needs and interests.
Cool Factor: An interesting amalgam of architecture inspired by Morocco, Pondicherry as well as Jodhpur and stunning use of colours
USP: Strategically segregated spaces for different jewellery categories, exclusive bridal parlour and a space earmarked for special events and popups
WEST-LARGE FORMAT-Runner Up
Pooja Diamond, Ahmedabad
Legacy: Pooja Diamond is a journey of trust that has strengthened over 3 decades of its existence.The brand began this journey of gold and glitter in the year 1989, with wholesale trading of diamonds.In the year 2001, Pooja Diamond diversified and set up their first showroom at a prime location at Ahmedabad.
Cool Factor: Soul of India campaign that promoted the heritage of Indian karigari
USP: A spectacular bridal studio where each bride has her own space
Kishandas & Co., Hyderabad
Legacy: Steeped in the legacy of Hyderabad, a heritage rich city Kishandas & Co is a historic house of jewels patronized by the regal and discerning milieu of India. The brand is steered by the design prowess of the legendary Krishan Das, a true blue handcraft custodian who also has a deep understanding of precious stones. Over the years Kishandas has enjoyed the patronage of the royalty of Hyderabad and now India
Cool Factor: Vintage haveli-style interiors inspired by Hyderabad, relaxed ambience so that clients feel at home, display units that reassemble royal’s almirah, lounge room for guests who will get personalised attention
USP: Service ratio of two attendants per client, exclusive lounges for brides, and a separate nook that nestles Kishandas’ prized museum collection including rare gemstones, basra pearls, artefacts and more
SOUTH BOUTIQUE FORMAT-Runner Up
Meralda Jewels, Kochi
Legacy: Headquartered in Calicut, Meralda’s latest store is located in Kochi. Backed by a glorious legacy and driven by a strong passion for designs, Meralda crafts unique, stunning and exclusive jewellery. The brand is committed to delivering inspiring moments to the world with its jewellery.
Cool Factor: European inspired, gothic-style décor, chic luxurious appeal
USP: Private shopping cabin, in-house design team to make customised jewellery
SOUTH LARGE FORMAT-Winner
Vasundhara Diamond Roof Private Limited, Hyderabad
Legacy: Vasundhara Diamond Roof is known for the most unique, hi-end designs, combined with high quality workmanship and a boutique retail experience unlike any other. In 2021, the brand saw a new beginning with a state-of-the-art showroom in Hyderabad’s up market Jubilee Hills.
Sq-ft: 10,000 sq-ft
Cool Factor: The tremendous detailing that has gone into customer service right from customised cutlery, crockery, jewellery display trays, stationary, packaging material and not to mention the beautiful artefacts that are more than 150 years old
USP: Personal viewing cabins for patrons, in-house chef and original art works and photographs that lend the place an exquisite aura
SOUTH LARGE FORMAT-Winner
AVR Swarna Mahal Jewellery Pvt. Ltd., Salem
Legacy: An institution, AVR Swarnamahal has become a household name in Tamil Nadu under the guidance of A.B.S. Sanjjay and Sowmya Sanjjay. The brand has amalgamated traditional principles with thought-provoking trends using cutting edge business technology, up to date software, centrally networked purchases and billing processes. Today the brand boasts of 16 stores in Tamil Nadu.
Size: 25,000 sq-ft
Cool Factor: Large wall art with Lord Krishna spanning from ground to third floor, where he is being depicted as having no wealth (in the ground floor) to becoming wealthy (in the third floor). The symbolic art lends the message to patrons of AVR that their life will prosper as well with every purchase at AVR.
USP: Automated parking system, in house app, e-commerce integration with livestock, user-friendly software creation for sales staff
Ratnalaya Jewellers, Patna
Legacy: Established in 1960, Ratnalaya was formed under the ideation of visionary Late. Jamuna Prasad Keshri. Today, Ratnalaya Jewellers presents a carefully chosen assortment of styles from soughtafter and emerging designers, exquisite custom design work, and an extensive selection of platinum, diamond, gold, silver, and solitaires. All of this, in a boutique setting in the capital city of Bihar, Patna.
Size: 3700 sq-ft
Cool factor: The in-house app where a customer themselves can feed the UIN no. of the product and it displays the complete price bifurcation of the product along with the image giving all the relevant details such as gross weight, net weight, metal rate, making charge, size, variety, stock status, counter no etc.
USP: Island counters for bridal jewellery, dedicated section for men’s jewellery, state of the art karat meter, free jewellery insurance, EMI options to make jewellery buying easier, augmented reality, technology to keep track of footfalls, unique HR management app