A Tale of Two Gem Palaces

Munnu The Gem Palace

The next genertion of Jaipur's jewelry mecca sets up shop in two very different Upper East Side salons.

There’s been some confusion lately on the expansion of the Gem Palace, the 162-year-old, ninth-generation jewelry empire that has adorned maharajahs and maharanis, princesses and the rest of the beau monde from its mansion on Mirza Ismail Road in Jaipur, India.

It was the late Munnu Kasliwal, the more affable of the jewelry house’s co-owners, who first brought the company to the States in 2006 when he opened his private atelier on Manhattan’s East 74th Street. But this May, his brother and co-owner, Sanjay, unveiled his eponymous boutique on Madison Avenue, just two blocks from Munnu’s. (The brothers had a fractious relationship, and the family feud has not ceased, despite Munnu’s death in 2012 from brain cancer.) It’s their children, though, who helm the two Manhattan salons: Siddharth, 30, has taken over his father Munnu’s exclusive bespoke and high-jewelry business. Sanjay’s daughter Shalini, 27, has moved to New York to run her father’s shop, and her brother, Samir, 30, manages design and production in India. Adding to the complication: Their pieces are made in the same workshop as Munnu’s. Here, a look at the next generation of the Gem Palace.

Munnu the Gem Palace

Helmed By: Siddharth Kasliwal

Provenance: Born in Jaipur, Siddharth grew up watching his father in the Gem Palace showroom and workshops, and attended boarding school in nearby Ajmer, India.

Training: Siddharth joined the family busi­ness full-time at 21, shadowing Munnu on design and production, client meetings and organization of museum exhibitions like those at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001 and London’s Somerset House in 2006. He now divides his time between New York and Jaipur and will debut his own collection of one-of-a-kind designs this fall.

Gem Philosophy: “I learned everything from my father. He had a way with people; his clients were his friends. He would spend entire days with someone without making a sale.”

Sanjay Kasliwal

Helmed By: Samir and Shalini Kasliwal

Provenance: Growing up in Bologna, Italy, Samir and Shalini first learned the jewelry trade through their moth­er’s family. (Their Italian grand­father and Indian grandfather did business together, and it was on a buying trip in 1980 that San­jay met his Italian wife.)

Training: After graduating from New York’s Gem­ological Institute of America in 2009, Samir went to India to learn his father’s side of the business. He now spends time both in Jaipur and New York, while Shalini manages the Madison Avenue shop full-time.

Gem Philosophy: “My father always said, ‘No one should walk out of the Gem Palace empty-handed.’ There’s something for everyone—pieces range from $300 to more than $1 mil­lion, plus custom orders,” says Samir. “That’s how it is in Jaipur, and it’s the same in New York.”