Jewellery and Watches
Informed by Tiffany’s handcrafted tradition is this unbroken circle of the hinged bangle, designed with a bevelled ‘T’ motif at its centre. Right since the time that Audrey Hepburn-starrer Breakfast at Tiffany, transformed the brand into some sort of cult, Tiffany has been a frontrunner in the style and substance stakes and makes for a classic gift.
Fabergé—once a jewellery and luxury brand catering to the Russian imperial court—entered India earlier this year. Their bangles and rings are among the most desirable pieces of jewellery, studded with brilliant emeralds and tourmaline.
The storied watch brand Panerai has a striking MS Dhoni Edition timepieces that pay tribute to the cricketing legend and the Indian brand ambassador. Luminor GMT is enclosed in Panerai’s 44mm case, constructed from a solid block of stainless steel and is kitted out with a polished bezel and a signature crown protector.
The home-grown Jaipur Watch Company’s Filigree Watch has a dial with a 1938–1947 era King George VI 1 anna coin surrounded by a lace-like filigree work, its dodecagon curves representing the twelve hours of the timepiece. JWC’s skilled jewellers have painstakingly soldered fine, pliable threads of precious metal and twisted it into beautiful art.
Gaatha heirloom jewels by Ahmedabad jeweller Harit Zaveri Jeweller reminds me of the genteel era of my grandmother. The Kundan and Jadau jewellery have been inspired by India’s royal jewellery traditions and studded with precious stones such as emeralds and tourmalines.
Made-in-India brand Paul Adams’ Opal Handbag in Boston Bag-inspired style is stylish and utilitarian is roomy and has a zippered pocket on its rear wall. Boston Bags were industrial canvas bags founded in 1928 and used by utility workers. Today, they are considered high fashion.
So, masks are NOT fashion and we hope we can stop using them at some point. But till the time we have to, we can try and wear pretty ones like these Benerasi silk masks made by Ekaya artisans from upcycled fabric leftover from their saris.
Jaquar, the luxury lighting brand has a striking range of classic and contemporary floor lamps, like this one with an unusual half-moon shaped shade that perks up boring corners of a home.
Baro Design’s furniture and accessories are made from well-seasoned, reclaimed wood that has lived a previous avatar as an old door, a ceiling rafter, a pillar, or bookshelf. Baby Eros is a glamorous art deco-esque table with a thick tabletop and a decorative base.
Baro Market, my favourite design store by art gallerist and connoisseur Srila Chatterjee, has moved online and retails a large cache of bespoke lifestyle products made by home-grown brands and local artisans.
My recommendation: Refurbished floral-motif vintage Bush radios by Absynthe Design. Bush was a famous manufacturer of early British radios and they are considered collectables.
If like me, you like things vintage, Anemos has retro CD Jukeboxes endowed with new technology, a gift meant for music and vintage accessories lovers.
What’s Diwali without a candle or two? SR Artefacts nature-inspired dainty silver candlestand has been handcrafted by silver artisans.
Another lovely option is the understated throws by a brand new sustainable home décor brand, SanSar, which upcycles fabric and has a zero-waste philosophy.
The Retyrement Plan, an eco-chic handcrafted label, puts out furniture pieces crafted out of discarded tyres of all shapes and sizes, in materials as varied as cane and bamboo. They are woven over with ropes twisted out of tailoring waste and shimmering plastic wrapper waste.
Concoction, Jaipur Rugs collaboration with architect and interior designer Shantanu Garg is a collection of 12 rugs inspired by the art, architectural and design aesthetics of the Middle East, Southern Europe and India, and by art movements such as Bauhaus, an amalgamation of Mughal, Ottoman and traditional Indian designs.
Furnishing and lifestyle brand Sarita Handa has interesting sources of inspiration, such as Suzani, Palampore and Jacobean patterns. Their up-cycled organisers, pouches and tissue box covers are made with waste fabrics such as embroidered or jacquard textures made from upholstery production.
Ikai Asai, known for their impeccable craftsmanship, has leveraged the current wellness trend for a range of Longpi water jars and cylindrical tumblers. These unglazed pieces of Manipuri pottery are crafted by hand-patting clay and then firing them using an age-old process that bestows them with a natural sheen.
Handcrafted in India
Patriotism and love for everything Indian is the reigning sentiment and these handcrafted beauties not just offer you to be on-trend but also support artisans.
Hastkaar by Bhartesh Vaibhav’s gorgeous hand block Sanganeri stoles, with striking pigment dye, is right at top of my list. The Rajasthan-based craft-meets-fashion label was set up in 2018 by Bharat Jain, a master weaver and entrepreneur from Ajmer. Order in from his own Instagram handle.
Social enterprise Abhihaara has a gift pack of handcrafted products: An ikat table runner, table napkins, a Kalamkari stole, 4 handcrafted masks and a Kondapally table organiser, all of which have been packaged in a sustainable cloth bag.
Tubruk Studio, a Kashmiri handmade brand weaves and hand-embroiders elaborate as well as minimal shawls and stoles, ideal for the winter months. Don’t forget to browse through their home furnishing, particularly cushions covers with detailed embroidery.
POTLI is a social venture that works with artisans to create educational, entertainment and DIY kits for kids. Highly recommended, especially if you are buying for a child, is their DIY Kits that are rooted in India’s heritage.
Terracotta by Sachii is a curated collection handmade lifestyle accessories made by India’s best terracotta craftspersons from craft clusters like Longpi black pottery from Manipur, Kutch painted pottery from Bhuj, and Kutch black pottery.
Rashmi Singh’s Studio Moya is known for the painstakingly hand-painted home accessories and lights, like this Madhubani oval lampshade which is a steal at the price it comes at. This one is an unusual gift.
'Indigenius Artists - India' is a sumptuous, visually delightful book by Sunita Nair, former editor of Taj Coffee Table. This hard-cover 328 pages tome is illustrated with photographs by Salamat Husain, the grandson of MF Husain and presents 11 rich traditions of Indian art and craft in the villages across 11 states.
Spirits and Wine
Topping the list is the Grover Chêne Grande Réserve, inspired by, well, an oak tree. Chêne is estate bottled, which means all the grapes have been produced on the Grover vineyards and processed and bottled at the estate itself. The wine is aged for a minimum of 15 months in French Oak barrels and is one of the only Tempranillo-based Indian wines.
Glenfiddich has launched a limited-edition gift pack with their iconic 12-year-old expression. The single malt remains classic as ever; the packaging is far sleeker. The pack design has the stag on a layered pattern and contour lines that emphasize on a message of change.
Beauty and Wellness
The indigenous Bombay Shaving Company, a Made-in-India grooming solutions brand, has a range of five grooming gift boxes that include a skincare range powered by the new-cool beauty ingredient, Activated Charcoal.
The Body Shop’s French Lavender Pillow Mist is infused with lavender essential oil from Provence, known for its soothing powers. It derives inspiration from the 14th-century legend about King Charles VI who demanded pillows filled with lavender to soothe him to sleep.
St.Botanica’s coffee-enriched products are made using pure natural oils and botanical extracts.
Equally recommended as an indulgent gift is Mystique Earth’s Bubble Facial Cleanser. From the Narmada River to the forests in Panchmahri, Mystique Earth only uses ingredients found hidden in Central India. The fun Bubble Facial Cleanser has a jelly that leaves the skin feeling fresher.
Forest Essentials’ gift box is inspired by the colonial-era Kampani Kalam-style of painting, a glimpse of the 18th and 19th century India through a much forgotten yet exquisite work of art. The Kampani Kalam artwork is credited to artist Yellapah of Vellapore, dating back to the 1800s, and documents the beauty and opulence of the flora and fauna across the Indian subcontinent.
The cruelty and paraben-free Earth Collective interestingly focuses only on hair care products, unlike other beauty brands that do an entire cross-section. Everything from hair cleansers and conditioners, to serums, leave-in treatments, scalp tonic, hair moisturizers, hair oils and hair masks infused with natural ingredients from across the world.
Food and Beverage
Gifting nuts on Diwali isn’t some sort of rigid code set in stone. Break out of the nut and mithai-fuelled ennui with Popcorn & Company’s quirky packs of popcorn in fun flavours such as Caramel Krisp Popcorn, Choco Caramel Popcorn and Crunchy Lichi. The brand also sells DIY kits with six different seasonings. Order them on the pnp website, or through shopping websites such as Amazon and digital delivery platforms.
Yeah, Baked Bouquets is a thing and you feast on them rather than enjoy them till the flowers wither. Shreenal Badiani’s whimsical desserts business puts out fresh flower cupcake bouquets and premium fresh flower bouquets. Each bouquet can be personalised to include the favourite colour, flavour and design of the person you are gifting it to you.
Dates are deep-rooted in the Middle Eastern culture but are fast gaining currency in India. Bateel’s dates come from an organic Saudi Arabian farm. I also recommend it for the pretty packaging, a Regalia gold set of purple and yellow.
Then there is that classic coffee from India, ARAKU, grown by a tribal community deep in Andhra Pradesh. The ARAKU Coffee Debates Gift Box has two of their delicious coffee variants, Signature and Grand Reserve, each with a distinct flavour, besides a set of beautiful green mugs.
La Folie’s decadent Grandeur Affection is an assorted box of sweet goodies with nine divine chocolates, a box of 8 cookies, La Folie’s signature bean-to-bar chocolate, a box of coated nuts, a jar of seasonal confiture or gourmet spread and a box of four assorted macarons.
If this is way too much indulgence for you, or if you want to gift the current organic food fad, head to Nourish Organics for their hampers, a delicious blend of sustainable, organic stuff: Breakfast cereals, nutrient-dense cookies, on-the-go snacks, seed & nut, not to forget onion poha (I vouch for how delicious this is), fig amaranth cookies, honey-roasted almonds and walnuts, and a diya to boot.
And while we are at the organic bit, Green Sense Organics has arty packs of their premium products such as saffron, honey, cardamom and jaggery. A worthy replacement for those hackneyed nuts.
The Navratna Gift Box from Tea Trunk, a boutique tea brand, is exquisitely designed, paper-art box inspired by the rich treasures of India’s gardens. It holds a collection of nine natural tea blends and herbs, sourced directly from gardens across the country. Every pack of tea uncovers a new botanical treasure etched on paper, and all the layers finally unfold to depict the rich landscape from where the teas come.
Deepali Nandwani is a journalist who keeps a close watch on the world of luxury.