By Ashley Davis
Sanjay Kasliwal collar

Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Madison Avenue has long been a luxury shopping destination. From Chopard to Buccellati, Aaron Basha to Georg Jensen, and of course the mothership, Fred Leighton (just try to pull me away), fine jewelry has a firmly planted foothold in the neighborhood.

In the last couple of years, the ritzy street’s most exciting new tenants have something in common: an illustrious Indian heritage.

Sanjay Kasliwal opened on Madison Avenue in 2014, named for its owner. The Kasliwal family is behind The Gem Palace, the Jaipur-based jewelry house that has been a go-to for royalty, socialites, Hollywood and Bollywood stars for more than 150 years.

Sanjay Kasliwal is an eighth generation designer from the family. His daughter, Shalini Kasliwal, a product of two jewelry families, both the Kasliwals and her Italian mother’s family who did business with the Kasliwals, has run the Madison Avenue boutique since it opened.

Kasliwal’s designs are, to me, quintessentially Indian, meaning they are a celebration of color, expressed in rubies and emeralds, and rich materials, like 22-karat yellow gold and blackened silver.

Every piece of jewelry in the New York boutique is timeless and possesses a unique story. Highlights I saw on a recent visit included the “Poison Ring,” an emerald stunner that opens to reveal a secret compartment, and an antique gold and emerald belt from the design house’s archives.

About half of a mile south of the Sanjay Kasliwal boutique, Nirav Modi opened its first stateside location in 2015, as part of an international push for the third-generation jewelry business.

Like the most recent generation of the Kasliwals, Modi also combines European and Indian influences in his namesake designs. Modi is a third-generation diamantaire who was raised in Antwerp.

His work has become a fixture on celebrities; Rosie Huntington-Whitely is a brand ambassador, and starlets like Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra are often pictured in Modi designs on the red carpet.

Modi marries the beauty of exquisite quality diamonds, both white and natural color diamonds like pink, purple and yellow, with innovative design.

His patented Endless Cut aims to achieve the illusion of an endless ring of diamonds in an eternity band by tension setting several “barrel-cut” diamonds without prongs. The process took 10 years to create.

Modi also utilizes what he calls “Mughal-cut” diamonds, essentially a rose-cut briolette he created, in many of his designs to maximize sparkle and surface value of the stones.

Inspired by his daughter’s elastic toy bracelets, the designer also created a series of Embrace bangles, currently on display in the Madison Avenue storefront, that utilize moving parts to expand (to be slid over the wearer’s hand) and constrict (once settled on the wrist).

Whether shoppers are looking for traditional colors à la Sanjay Kasliwal or modern, technological innovation from Nirav Modi, Madison Avenue has both to offer, a lucky thing for those of us who don’t have India on our 2017 travel agenda.

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