By Andrew Flynn
Shiv Chokhani has an ambitious vision.
The master jeweller and gemmologist is embracing the future, crafting unique designs in which he believes will set a new course for Canadian jewellery. It’s his dream to someday see his regal, one-of-a-kind pieces adorning prominent people worldwide – prime ministers, presidents, premieres, mayors, athletes, performers, celebrated members of the Armed Forces, the finest educational institutions, charities, prominent professionals and businesspeople.
“People who can proudly showcase his brand on various world platforms that Canada is not only rich in natural resources such as gold and diamonds but also gorgeous, inspirational, creative fine jewellery designs with exceptional quality,” says Chokhani.
Vision and determination
Chokhani’s vision might seem grand but then so is his determination – he is a man driven by success and, far beyond that, the pursuit of an ideal that embraces his customers’ happiness first and expresses an unshakeable belief that there are new frontiers in jewellery design yet to be discovered.
“We are confident, positive, and ready for future challenges and to move forward. We are always willing to learn and quickly adapt to market changes while maintaining our quality and excellent customer service.”
That ethic has driven the success of London, Ontario-based Karat Fine Jewellery (KFJ), Chokhani’s base of operations. Karat is gearing up for its tenth anniversary next year and Chokhani is unmistakably proud to be hitting such a milestone alongside the amazing team that has helped him achieve longstanding success.
“I am humbled to put London, Ontario, on the Canadian map as a hub for creating the finest one-of-a-kind jewelleryin Canada,” says Chokhani, who asserts that his is an independent business that is “proudly Canadian-owned and operated.”
Jewellery, he observes, knows no borders and is truly multicultural. While the rest of the world sometimes seems to be dividing and falling apart, “people come together bound by shared passions for gems and jewellery creating love, peace and harmony.”
Good memories and happiness
“Almost every piece of fine jewellery marks a memorable event in my customer’s life. An engagement, a wedding, an anniversary, birth, graduation, a promotion, baptism. In the longer run, it is viewed as a reminder of that time and brings back good memories and happiness. (If you look at your own jewellery, you’ll be reminded of the significance of each piece.)”
Chokhani, who has spent a lifetime working in the jewellery trade, “began diamond cutting at a young age, and fell in love with diamonds immediately and I still absolutely love it.”
“My success is a result of the highly talented staff and teamwork, regularly updating our knowledge, good networking, thinking out of the box and – most importantly – the continued love and support of my customers.”
Now, Shiv’s qualifications are truly international: he has Graduate Jeweler Gemologist (GJG) credentials from the Gemological Institute of America, is a Graduate (FGA) from the Gemmological Association & Gem Testing Laboratories of Great Britain and is also a Graduate, Certified Gemmologist from the Gemmological Institute of India.
A team with experience
“My management team here at Karat Fine Jewellery has over 50 years of experience in the fine jewelleryprofession,” he says, noting that the team has won awards and industry recognition for fine jewellery designing, excellent craftsmanship and innovation.
“We offer fine silver, gold and platinum jewellery, one-of-a-kind unique custom designs, independent designer jewellery and fine-branded timepieces,” says Chokhani. “For our exceptional customer service we offer in-house fine jewellery repairs, custom designing and appraisals.”
When Chokhani first started Karat Fine Jewellery, his main goal “was to be free with my creativity to create innovative and whimsical jewellery and utilize it to establish a successful fine jewellery business.”
“Built with emphasis on excellent jewellery skills, fresh creative ideas, knowledge, honesty, hard work providing the best product and service to our customers, becoming a pillar of our society and helping our community.”
Those goals have evolved over the past nine years. Now that Karat Fine Jewellery is established as “an honest professional creative fine jewellery store,” Chokhani says there are new pathways he’d like to explore, based on his vision of the constant evolution of style and design.
Fusion of the classic and modern
“We would like to start fresh concepts with a new fusion of classic and modern designs and an even better customer service experience. We’d like to establish a new category of genuinely fresh, unique creative fine jewellery pieces as wearable pieces of art.”
From a design perspective, Chokhani says Karat Fine Jewellery fuses old-world aesthetics with new-world fashion to create pieces that are intended to delight customers, to give them something they can treasure for a lifetime.
“We use both old and progressive technology which results in breathtakingly unique, wearable works of art,” he says.
“Our designs are meant to enrich and enhance treasured moments of your life and each of our designs is an inspiring expression of art to be given its own special interpretation by the person that wears it. We blend classic elegance with modern inspiration, creating some of the most highly regarded and exquisite jewelleryof passion with attention to detail and personalized customer care and after care.”
The jewellery business, Chokhani notes, has always been associated with royalty, astrology, history – everything around us.
“Mom had jewellery given by grandmother, it became sentimental. Houses you downsize, get bigger, change. But people carry little pieces of jewellery over years, over centuries. You pass it on. For me, it’s associated with so many things around us, the more you learn about it, it’s mind-boggling, its more than just a piece of jewellery, it’s a part of someone’s life.”
Karat makes a concerted effort to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations, Chokhani says. Staff update themselves regularly through direct networking with other gemologists and seasoned jewellery professionals and designers and attending seminars and workshops in the best trade shows. On top of that, they take in online webinars, attend top fashion shows and scan related periodicals as well as trade and fashion magazines.
The customer is the superstar
“Our focus is our customers, the real superstars of our business; every time we do a
unique custom fine jewellery piece for them we give complete, undivided attention to all of the details, as if they will be on a red carpet showcasing our fine jewellery.”
“By winning awards we hope we will also inspire many other creative talented Canadians. In the future, we’d like to hire arts graduates from Canadian universities and colleges. I believe we can convert some of these brilliant students into finest jewellery designers of the future.”
Like many small business owners, Chokhani recognizes the importance of giving back – a dedicated Londoner, he has made a number of commitments to local and national charities and causes.
Paying it forward
“Over the years, we have supported local charities like Special Olympics Canada, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Alzheimer Society, the London Health Sciences Centre, Animal Alert, the United Way, the Dearness Home and Mission Services of London – among others,” he says.
“We believe in paying it forward and do so many times over each year by donations of fine
jewellery for silent auctions and fundraisers for many charities and good causes.”
What’s next for Karat? Not content with the status quo, Chokhani has some ambitious plans.
“At a time when some independent retailer jewellers are taking early retirement or folding, I hope to expand in the near future.”