Across the world, family is an integral part of the diamond jewellery story. It’s certainly no different at Anan Jewels, based in Bangkok, Thailand, which is today led by second-generation jeweller Anant Kothari. His father was raised in the diamond and coloured gemstone hub of Jaipur, India, but later moved to Thailand in the 1980s at the height of the country’s diamond industry boom. “He has always been someone who wants to do things differently,” Anant explains about his father. “He has never been the one to follow what everyone else is doing. When the world was selling melee, he wanted to bring new products to the market. That’s always been what made him, him.”
This desire to go his own way manifested in an unusual specialism for the time… Anant’s father traded fancy-shaped diamonds across Thailand, travelling to and from Israel more than 40 times to source fancy-cut stones from his connections in the country. Then, in 2005, the business began producing its own fancy-shaped diamond jewellery collections to break free from the ‘standard’ round brilliant-cut melee that was saturating the market. “We have always wanted to be ahead of what everyone else is doing,” Anant says. “As people saw us making fancy-shaped diamonds and started copying us, we thought, what’s next? We realised we had to go the next step, so we started making jewellery for that reason.”
Anant was born into this environment of experimentation, innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking. He explains: “I would always spend my summers working with the company and understanding how the industry works. When you are at home hearing all the conversations your dad is having on the phone or with work colleagues, automatically it is ingrained into your brain.” He joined the family business full-time in 2016 and made it his mission to bring fancy-coloured diamonds into the mix.
But Anan Jewels doesn’t simply trade diamonds and produce fine jewellery. It also specialises in manufacturing fancy-shaped stones to its own meticulous specifications. Let’s start with a design that Anan Jewels is partially responsible for originating. It’s an unusual illusion-style setting that uses four marquise-shaped diamonds and one princess-cut diamond to give the appearance of a single oval or round-shaped diamond solitaire. The stones are set so closely and precisely together that it takes a closer look to see the curved edges of each marquise diamond, nestled around a princess gem in the centre. Anant explains that since the mid-2000s, this style has been almost second nature for his artisans. As they were partly responsible for originating the design, they’ve perfected the best ways of bringing it to life for customers globally.
Anant is directly involved in these engineering processes and focuses much of his time on streamlining techniques and improving methods to refine the art of fancy-shaped diamonds. But what are the jewelled results of this work? He says: “Over the years, we’ve shifted towards more classical designs to reflect the things people wear every day. People are now looking for pieces they can wear at multi-purpose events rather than just a gala dinner or ball. They want designs they can wear when visiting friends or even at the beach. People want classic eternity bands and single-line bracelets, so we have developed this side [of our collection] over the last few years.”
Of course, any conversation about fancy-shaped diamonds must cover really fancy shapes – the kind that occasionally pops up on Instagram in the shape of Zodiac signs, animals or natural forms. “We are doing work in that field,” Anant tells me. “I don’t think they are always done well. They may look like a horse, but they aren’t done perfectly. Until they are created to a standard where a butterfly really looks like a butterfly, for example, it is very difficult for people to want to wear them. That is something that needs to be worked on in fancy-shaped style jewellery.”
Fortunately, Anan Jewels has all the tools to manufacture diamonds in almost any shape, so its efforts in this area are an important barometer for the entire market. As our conversation shifts to customers, it’s clear that Anant always wants to tempt his clients with something new. “We must be the ones to present options to the customer because we really understand jewellery. So we have to give them ideas and inspiration by saying, ‘these are the things that we like’. Otherwise, the entire industry would be custom-made jewellery. Customers then decide, yes, we love it, or no chance, we hate it!”
Aside from being at the forefront of fancy-shaped diamond jewellery, Anant has also established something extremely close to his heart. The Anan Foundation is a company initiative to support research, training and education around facial burns, something which Anant experienced as a child. He aims to bridge the gap between medical research and the training of doctors who need the tools to put cutting-edge theory into practice for patients. “I want to make sure that anyone who has suffered a burn or been through something similar can live as regular a life as possible,” he says. “I realise that what we are doing has to have a greater purpose. It can’t just be the material side of building jewellery; it is amazing, it is art, and we are trying our best to build art, but, at the end of the day, there must be a purpose for what we are doing beyond that.”
With an authentic heritage, forward-thinking ideals and now a foundation, Anan Jewels is proving that beautiful jewellery with purpose is the direction we should all be travelling in. Moreover, I am reliably informed that the brand also has something exciting on the horizon – a “secret project” that will be “completely different from anything anyone is doing in the industry” – that will launch later this year. So I will do exactly what Anant says and “just watch” because “it’ll be amazing!”