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Divya Dhariwal (above) is not just a jeweler, she's an artist. You see, she designs fabulous pieces of jewelry. She's so good  that her work is already being copied by others and a prominent jeweler in Geneva recently asked her to come and study with him.
Divya got into the business by happenstance. A native of Oakville, Ontario, she attended St. Hilda's School and was set to study for an MBA, until she met her future husband, Vinit, while he was on one of his visits to North America. Vinit, who was based in Thailand at the time, made many business trips to New York, but he had friends in Toronto who also knew Divya and her family and the rest is history. The couple met when Divya was seventeen and they married four years later. Both Vinit and Divya's families come from Northern India.
 
After meeting Vinit, Divya immediately became interested in jewelry and decided to study jewelry design and jewelry manufacturing through the Gemological Institute of America. Divya also took courses on a one-on-one basis from Nancy Querllice. Divya says, "She was a very talented lady and although she was 78 at the time, she was totally familiar with the latest trends and techniques of the jewelry industry. Nancy had lived in France and worked as a freelance designer all her life, until she decided it was time for her to retire, which is when she chose to settle in Toronto."         
 
The Dhariwals' company is called BV Intertrade, and it mainly concentrates on exports. Divya and Vinit attend a lot of fairs, where they develop personal relations with their clients.
 
"Ours is a very young company," says Divya. "It's not large and it doesn't have a huge turnover, but that is not our focus. We constantly aim for customer satisfaction. Our success is and will be based on the continuity of new designs, personal supervision of all pieces of jewelry being produced and being there personally for all customers. If we expanded too fast, we would lose sight of our objectives."            
 
Many jewelers don't always manufacture their own jewelry due to overload, a lack of supervisors or simply a lack of interest. That's where companies like BV Intertrade comes in.
 
Why did BV set up shop here? Well you see, Bangkok is a gem port. It's well-known for its blue sapphires and rubies. "The cutting and polishing factories for gemstones are concentrated in the Chantaburi and Kanchanaburi regions, bringing in prospective buyers from around the world," says Divya.
 
The secret to the Thai gem trade lies in the skillful handwork of cutting, polishing and setting of gemstones for which the Thais are especially gifted. The workers have such  soft hands, and the skill and tradition they've learned over the years makes them very special. Also, as Vinit has been in Thailand for a number of years (he grew up here), his knowledge of the language and the people works in favor of the company.  

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                        Workers at Divya's factory

Divya and her husband employ about 30 people in their Sukhumvit factory, but it is designed just for handmade creations and the setting of gemstones. The Dhariwals are however looking for a new site so they can integrate their existing handmade factory with a casting factory with state-of-the-art German technology. This would allow them to mass produce items and make as many pieces as they want through casting, and then having the stones inlaid later. Right now, BV Intertrade acts as an intermediary giving out casting jobs to other companies.
 
You see Divya has two types of customers: high-end jewelers tend to want individual handmade pieces, but the middle segment which basically means stores with more than one outlet require maybe 100 or more pieces of the same design. It is far more economical to mass produce by casting rather than doing the work by hand, but the setting of stones in all pieces of jewelry is always done by hand at BV. So the company has to try and keep both types of clients happy.
 
So what type of jewelry does BV Intertrade deal with? Mainly 14k gold, 18k gold or platinum stones e.g. diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. It doesn't deal with plain gold or  silver jewelry, but it does deal with semi-precious stones.     
 
And where does Divya get the inspiration for her designs? She says she doesn't look at other jewelry when trying to pick up ideas for new designs. She likes to look at architecture, photographs, natural scenes, furniture - anything but jewelry - and she has gotten a number of ideas from just window shopping. Sometimes she dreams her creations, so she keeps a paper and pen bedside. Divya best describes her jewelry style as, "classic, simple and no frills."  
 
When Divya moved to Bangkok, Vinit was selling loose gemstones, and Divya started working as a freelance jewelry designer. So the couple would go to different factories and get her designs made. The problem was that Divya's designs were soon copied and in some cases people would even try to sell her back her own designs. So the Dhariwals decided to open their own factory to have better control over their creations.       
 
Looking back, Divya says, "It was the toughest challenge of my life. Since we had acquired a running operation rather than starting from scratch it required all the patience in the world to get a better understanding of the working environment of the factory. To try and make the workers see things from a different angle wasn't easy and to prepare them for change was the hardest of all, but our patience and understanding has finally paid off. Now our workers trust us and we trust them. We are trying to revive high quality craftsmanship, an inherent skill learned from generations of handwork, by constantly trying to introduce and teach new techniques of the trade to our craftsman."        
 
Now, with so many jewelers in town, why should people shop with BV Intertrade? "First, no one should just deal with one jeweler. There are so many different designers and they all  think differently, so people should shop around. But if you do deal with us, our quality is very good, we have invested in technology and we train our staff very well. Most companies here just get by when it comes to operating procedure but we place a huge emphasis on quality control. And if I tell you that I am making a piece especially for you, I mean that, I won't market it anywhere else."   

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Trust is so important in the jewelry business, and people like dealing with Divya because they know and trust her. They know that if they have a problem with a piece of jewelry they have bought from her, or elsewhere, they can always call her and talk about it.
 
And what about some tips for shopping for jewelry? Divya says that to ensure you are a getting a good deal and value for your money, as well as a piece of jewelry that is a delight to wear, you should shop around a bit, take your time and only deal with a reputed and recommended jeweler.
 
Since we have spent most of the article talking about Divya, it's only fair if we take some time to talk about her darling hubby, Vinit. "He's a very level-headed person," Divya says, "As it wasn't a family business, he started in the jewelry trade at a very low level and worked his way up. He has a tremendous knowledge of diamonds and other stones, which he has picked up from his training and working with another company for five years before starting BV Intertrade. He believes in working very hard."      
Divya has also done some work for friends and acquaintances she met through the CWG, and they have been very happy with the pieces they received from her. BV Intertrade has also supported the CWG's Valentine Ball and the TCCC's Thanksgiving Ball by giving pieces of jewelry at cost for the silent auction the past couple of years.  
       
She is also the Welfare Chair and VP of the Canadian's Women's Group where she plays a big role with their Valentine's Day Ball. She has also helped out the TCCC with Canada Day and the Thanksgiving Day Ball. She has done and continues to do a lot of good work with charity.
 
Divya says that one day she wants to start her own line of jewelry but right now she is still learning the ropes and gaining valuable experience by learning techniques and the tricks of the trade here in Bangkok.
 
Contact Info:
 
Tel: (662) 863-2416
Fax: (662) 863-1632
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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