As part of our on-going partnership with luxury jewelry brand, Monica Vinader, we speak to the Founder and CEO herself on the travel destinations that most inspire her collections.
Monica Vinader, CEO and Founder
1.Which destinations have you traveled to recently that have inspired collections?
Mexico and India are two of the destinations from which I get the most inspiration. They both have a vibrancy and energy that I love and never tire of. Mexico provided the inspiration for my Esencia Collection launched this summer in collaboration with Gemfields, the world’s leading producer of ethically sourced natural precious colored gemstones, and the forthcoming Esencia Friendship Collection for Spring 2014. I visit India regularly to source my stones and get them cut, polished, faceted and set. Every time I visit, I get an exhilarating feeling from just seeing people and places, and absorbing the color, the noise and the smells of this buzzing country.
2. You often travel to Jaipur in India, what is your relationship with the country?
Jaipur is one of my favorite destinations in India – I especially love the combination of rich architecture reflecting the time of the Maharajas rule, as well as the extraordinary craftsmanship that is still very much a focal point in Jaipur today. Jaipur is also where I source rough stones, and cut all the color gemstones that feature so prominently in my designs. I have been working with skilled craftsmen there for many years, as it takes a long time to successfully cut my bespoke designs.
Gemstones journey from sketchbook to sourcing from rough, and production to polishing through the hands of numerous talented artisans at Monica Vinader’s Jaipur workshops
3. How would you spend 24 hours in Jaipur?
I would spend the early morning in Japiur’s shops and bazaars along the famous Ajmer Road, shopping for antique pots, boxes and architectural pieces at Manglam and beautiful printed bedspreads and large embroidered suzanis and throws at Ridhi Sidhi Textiles.
Following time at workshops, spent working on my new collections, my pick for lunch would be the Anokhi Café, perfect for delicious, home-grown organic produce from the surrounding Anokhi farms.
In the afternoon, I would visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located next to the City Palace. I love looking at the huge stone and marble constructions, the famous sundial, and taking in the amazing views of the surrounding hills and countryside. I also like visiting the workshops within the City Palace to see the work of different artists.
Jal Mahal Palace on Man Sagar Lake is a real treat to visit – Jal Mahal, meaning ‘water place’ looks like it floats on the lake and can only be accessed by wooden boats. The lake has been thoroughly transformed in recent years, resulting in clean and clear waters and a variety of local vegetation, fish and birds. The arched passages and towers of the palace itself provide welcome shade from the afternoon sun.
Discovering beautiful bedspreads and suzanis in Jaipur’s shops and bazaars
4. Where would you recommend staying whilst in the country?
My pick for accommodation has to be the oasis that is the Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, a haven of relaxation just outside the city. Built in Rajasthani fort style, it is surrounded by over 32 acres of idyllic gardens and countryside. I’d unwind with a traditional Ayurvedic massage in the spa and then relax on the terrace with my favorite cocktail, the Aquarius, a non-alcoholic mix of lemon soda, ginger and mint.
For me, the hotel is the ideal retreat after a busy day of working, shopping or sightseeing.
Gardens of The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur
5. Are there any experiences or hidden treasures in Rajasthan that you would recommend to a Scott Dunn guest?
Panna Meena Ka Kund is an ‘off the beaten track’ treasure and perfect for a little quiet time away from the crowds. Surrounded by temples, it is home to a fascinating ‘step well’ with interlocking stairs leading down to the water. The Anokhi Museum is located nearby and well worth a visit for its permanent collections of tools and textiles used in block printing, plus temporary exhibitions of the hand printing craft. This is a great place to learn more about the hand printing process, and the company’s ethical and environmental focus, while trying your hand at the craft too!
I always try to fit in a visit to Shammi Sharma, whom I rate as the best contemporary artist for miniature paintings. He uses pigments from semi-precious stones to create paintings using techniques that have now been passed down through seven generations. I love the fact these traditional processes are still here today and that Shammi’s work is linked to gemstones such as lapis, which features regularly in our collections.
Panna Meena Ka Kund – the incredible step well
For your chance to win the ultimate trip to India, don’t forget to enter our competition in partnership with Monica Vinader. The first prize winner will experience the fascinating city of Jaipur as well as New Delhi and Agra, and win £3000 to spend on Monica Vinader jewelry. The competition closes on 17th December 2013. Visit http://www.monicavinader.com/competition to enter now!
If you want to find out more on India visit https://www.scottdunn.com/luxury-vacations/asia/indian-subcontinent/india