Exceptional levels of skill, craftsmanship and intellectual process are behind every individual step of the jewellery making process at the House of Meraki. Firstly, the sustainable gemstone mines Kagem and Kamakanga in Zambia - as well the Colombian Muzo mine - are the only sources which the jewellery house use to provide their emeralds. From there, the lapidary work is crafted in Jaipur by cutters who took years to perfect their lapidary skills. Next, the design element of the creation is taken care of by the in-house design team in London, which is then brought to fruition by a family of Italian master craftsmen who have previously worked for some of the most famous and celebrated jewellery houses in the world.
When I recently met the House of Meraki’s Founder and Creative Director Gargi Rathi at her London showroom, I was keen to find out the inspiration behind the company, the history behind her illustrious moniker ‘The Emerald Lady,’ and how it came to be that she created the first emerald focused fine jewellery brand in the world.
Katerina Perez: I find that often people’s first association with jewellery is one that shapes their chosen path within the jewellery world. What is your first jewellery memory?
Gargi Rathi: My first association with emeralds dates back to my earliest memories growing up in Zambia. I was vegetable shopping with my mother in Lusaka’s famous market. Amongst the fruit and vegetable vendors, I spotted these incredible green stones, glistening with the rays of sunlight beaming through them. The local miners quickly exchanged rough emeralds on the side of the street. At the time, few people knew of the emerald mines in Zambia, with their exceptionally deep green hues. The sight of those fascinating gems sparkling under the African Sun always stayed with me. Thus, you could say it was love at first sight!
KP: You are known as ‘The Emerald Lady’ in the industry and among your clients. Why do emeralds hold your fascination over all other stones?
GR: My obsession with them began at an early age. Later in life, I started to study the chemistry behind the green tones within gemmology, and to explore every facet these romantic stones have to offer. Each emerald is individual - no two are exactly the same - and it is this uniqueness that has fascinated me.
KP: Usually designers will still include other precious gemstones alongside their favourite stone, why did you choose to utilise emeralds only accented with diamonds or pearls in your jewellery?
GR: We are proud to be the first emerald focused jewellery house in the world. I feel that it is extremely important to master one specific gemstone and to be the best at showcasing it. We dress our emeralds with diamonds and pearls to offset their raw beauty.
KP: How do you choose when to use emeralds from Zambia or those from Colombia in your creations? What is the biggest difference between them for you?
GR: Emeralds from both regions hold exceptional chemical composition and provenance. If the design aesthetic were more contemporary, I would use Zambian emeralds, as that’s what’s trending right now! But if the requirement were for something more classic, I would lean towards Colombian stones.
KP: Jewellery is so personal; do you have a favourite piece which you wear every day?
GR: Currently, my favourite piece is the mint earrings from our Impossible Love collection. Small and dainty, I end up comfortably wearing them to work everyday.
KP: House of Meraki seems to be tailored to the modern women’s approach to fine jewellery. Do you feel that brands should be re-assessing their marketing for their audience?
GR: Evolution is key to staying relevant. House of Meraki was built upon the belief that every woman should be able to go out and buy a piece of jewellery that is an investment, on her own.
KP: What inspired the convergence of gemstone investment, asset management and fine jewellery within the House of Meraki?
GR: I was inspired when I saw a void in the market within this fairly unorganised sector. It is of the greatest importance that each emerald is procured with the correct sensibility, and then mounted into an aesthetic that retains an investment value, and lastly is converted into an asset that requires the correct aftercare.
Offering everything from bespoke jewellery design, to unique high jewellery pieces with investment-grade emeralds to ready-to-wear affordable lines, and even jewellery asset management, the House of Meraki seems to defy conventional definition within the fine jewellery industry.