Our Heritage

The Gem Palace Story

To hold a Gem Palace creation is to unfold an entire universe within the palm of your hand. Each turn reveals a new dimension — belts transform into brooches, rings open to unveil loose gems, necklaces flip to display backings as intricate as their facades. Rubies and emeralds nestle into pure gold settings, inlaid with such precision that, on first glance, one assumes they were painted. It is within the facets of these exquisite jewels that the story of The Gem Palace is written.

For nine generations, the Kasliwal family has been handcrafting jewelry that challenges conventions of the art. Where else but The Gem Palace could one expect to find a jewel-encrusted, life-size parakeet or a diamond and pearl bridal headdress that touches the floor? Here, the old mixes with the new. Pieces from the Mughal empire scatter themselves amongst Indo-Russian designs and Munnu’s contemporary work. The same piece that once adorned a Mughal emperor might just as easily end up on a world-famous actress, a beautiful young bride or a wide-eyed Gem Palace visitor, reinforcing a central tenet — 'though we may come and go, jewelry remains forever’.  With an uncompromising commitment to perfection, The Gem Palace has been creating pieces which stand the test of time since the family's beginnings in Agra.

Heritage in Agra

Jewelers to Mughal Emperors

Throughout history, jewelry has been interwoven with the political and social structures of India. In the stratified society of the Mughal empire, gems served as both investments of wealth and displays of power. Three centuries of Mughal emperors depended on jewelers like the Agra-based Kasliwal family to create opulent, whimsical pieces that would inspire awe and reinforce the high status of the wearer. In the words of Munnu, “Back then, people wore more jewelry than clothes.” The elaborate, exquisitely crafted designs the Kasliwals were creating during the Mughal period continue to set the standard for all Munnu The Gem Palace creations.

A Royal Invitation

Crown Jewelers of Jaipur

After decades as jewelers for Mughal royalty, the Kasliwal name had become synonymous with innovative design and flawless craftsmanship. Their mastery of traditional Indian techniques like Kundan setting and Meenakari enameling elevated their renown and built the Kasliwal reputation amongst the elite. It is of little surprise that when the Maharaja Jai Singh II began construction in 1725 on his new city of Jaipur, which was to be a center of the finest art and highest culture, the Kasliwals were invited to work within the palace walls as the crown jewelers. Jaipur remains home to the Kasliwal family today.

Out of the Palace

A New Studio

In a Kasliwal design, neither time nor money was an obstacle. Intricately crafted pieces often required years of perfecting by dedicated craftsmen. The expansion of Jaipur afforded the Kasliwals an opportunity to centralize their operations at a new location outside of the palace walls on Mirza Ismail Road.  Many of the craftsmen who previously had been scattered throughout the city came together to work under one roof. The Gem Palace remains located today on MI Road and continues to employ many descendants of the original studio craftsmen.

Opening The Gem Palace Shop

In 1923, the iconic Gem Palace shop opened in Jaipur. The original building, with its pink and white facade and delicate, Mughal-style minarets still stands like a sentinel to a past age. Inside, every surface glistens with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Necklaces, bracelets, boxes and belts casually drape over chairs and couches — a testament to the relaxed opulence of The Gem Palace. In the workrooms upstairs, some of the world's most skilled craftsmen sit cross-legged on pillows, cutting and fitting gems with surgical precision. Time has little hold here. At The Gem Palace, each piece relies on the common understanding that the best of the best has to be made.

The Rise and Fall of British Rule

The British Raj

In 1858, the Indian subcontinent came under British rule and became known as the "jewel in the crown".  During a period of increased cultural exchange between India and Europe, Gem Palace creations began to influence European houses the likes of Cartier while the Indian maharajas and society were seduced by European designs. The Gem Palace retained its position as jewelers to the state and Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy of India, officially recognized it as such.  The family continued to craft exquisite pieces while the political tides of the country shifted once again.

An Anniversary and Independence

Shortly following India’s Independence from Britain in 1947, The Gem Palace celebrated its centennial anniversary with an exhibition in Jaipur dedicated by the new Prime Minister Nehru. Under the new political system, the fortunes of many of India's former royal families came under strain and many pieces of jewelry discreetly were sold back to the Kasliwal family. Today, many of these original pieces – some dating back to the Mughal empire – are on display at The Gem Palace as a testament to the timelessness of their work.

The Modern Period

Munnu's Collections for The Met

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art invited Munnu Kasliwal to design a special collection to sell alongside the 2001 exhibition, “Treasury of the World: Jeweled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals”. Despite the economic downturn, the jewelry he created was a great success and paved the way for a series of successive collaborations. Between 2001 and 2007, Munnu created five collections for The Met ranging in style from Greek and Roman to Egyptian to Byzantine to Early Mediterranean.

Treasures from The Gem Palace

Following the Egyptian collection Munnu created for the Hatshepsut exhibition, The Gem Palace was invited to exhibit at Somerset House in London, making them the first Indian jeweler to do so. The exhibition, “Treasures from The Gem Palace”, showcased approximately 250 pieces of jewelry and celebrated the exquisite craftsmanship of the Kasliwal family. The show presented traditional and modern treasures from Jaipur along with borrowed pieces from clients of The Gem Palace and the personal collection of the Kasliwal family.

New York Townhouse

After the wild success of Munnu's creations for the Met, The Gem Palace gained popularity within the United States and Munnu and his son Siddharth opened a private studio and showroom in a townhouse in the heart of New York City. Much like their family's MI Road showroom, the New York space enchants all who enter. Munnu’s collections of Mughal paintings grace the walls. Vibrant colors, tapestries, and gems overwhelm the senses, transporting visitors into the magical realm of The Gem Palace.

Maximum India

The Kennedy Center selected The Gem Palace to exhibit in “Maximum India”, a month-long festival celebrating the best of art and culture from India. The show, entitled “Treasures of The Gem Palace”, featured a curated mix of antique jewelry and contemporary pieces. One of Munnu’s most impressive creations, a diamond and pearl wedding set that completely enveloped the display mannequin's torso and took 75 craftsmen over three years to create, became the stunning center of the exhibition.