By Brecken Branstrator
Franklin, N.C.—Anil B. Dholakia, longtime wholesale gem merchant and a founding member of the American Gem Trade Association, died June 10.

He was 85 years old.

Dholakia was born Nov. 23, 1933, in Baroda, India to Balkrishna and Shanta Dholakia.

20190614 Anil DholakiaLongtime gem dealer Anil B. Dholakia died June 10 at the age of 85.He started his jewelry career at the age of 16, cutting gemstones in Mumbai and specializing in garnet and star ruby.

In 1957, Dholakia moved to Japan, spending three years in the gemstone trade there while also traveling to Burman, Singapore and Thailand. He relocated to the United States in 1960, residing first in New York City with his wife, Savita Dholakia.

He started his business as Adris Oriental Gem & Art Corp. in the early ‘60s and began doing trade shows all over the country, traveling to as many as 90 a year.

Dholakia was one of 12 gem dealers dubbed the “Dirty Dozen” who helped establish a new satellite gem show in Tucson, Arizona in February 1974, the Gem & Lapidary Wholesalers show, or G&LW. He was the youngest and last living member of the group, according to an online obituary.

He also was one of the founding members of the AGTA when it formed in Tucson in 1981 and served as a director of the association.

In 1994 he moved to Franklin, North Carolina, where he worked in the wholesale gem and jewelry business as Anil B. Dholakia Inc.

Dholakia had a passion for traveling to source new gemstones, and enjoyed buying and selling as well as taking part in trade shows around the world. His work took him to Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, India, China, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Korea, Ethiopia and many other locations.

He was actively involved in his business until early 2017. His daughter, Varshana Dholakia-McGaughey, will continue to run the company under its current name.

He was a leader in the trade and loved helping people get into the business, paving the way in the gemstone sector for the Indian community. He also received numerous awards from the industry, including the Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association honoring him as a leader in 2005.

Outside of the jewelry industry, Dholakia enjoyed cooking and entertaining friends and family at his home. He was married to his late wife for 63 years.

He had a degree in economics and did graduate studies in law and business administration as well.

AGTA CEO Doug Hucker said: “Anil was a gentle person and a gentleman and was always willing to help new people come into the organization. He will be greatly missed.”

Dholakia is survived by his daughter, Varshana (Earl McGaughey); son Ketan Dholakia; son Samrat Dholakia (Donna); grandsons Shawn, Raja and Andrew; granddaughters Isabel and Caroline; sister, Pramila Sullivan; and nephew, William.

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