Meet the designer whose silver jewellery is worn by Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, and Aishwarya Rai

With a family tradition in silver dating back to 1897, Sangeeta Boochra launched her eponymous jewellery label with Silver Centrre in Jaipur. The well-known brand, often worn by celebrities to A-list events, is available offline and online.
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This is a story of a woman entrepreneur who was never allowed to step out of the house alone as a young girl. She went on to become a well-known jewellery designer, whose exquisite pieces are the preferred choice of Bollywood A-listers.

Sangeeta Boochra was born in Sujangarh, a small village in Rajasthan, in a family of entrepreneurs. Her father owned one of the largest networks of petroleum/chemicals distribution and petrol pumps in Northeast India.

She went to a Hindi medium school and enjoyed a simple life in Sujangarh. Due to work, her entire family had to shift to Guwahati, Assam, where Sangeeta enrolled in Handique Girls College.

“Life was simple and quiet, but because of the unrest caused by ULFA around that time, my family never allowed me to step out of the house alone or after 6 pm in the evening. It was more of family affair and less of socialising; I grew up in a protected environment,” Sangeeta recalls.

Marriage and a new career

In 1985, Sangeeta got married to Sudeep Boochra, in Jaipur. “It was more challenging when I got married and shifted to Jaipur. It was a very different culture - getting married into a powerful and influential family. Everybody used to talk in English; my husband was always travelling abroad for business. I learnt English only when my kids were born; I had to learn to teach them. Till date, my kids correct me for my pronunciation,” she adds.

Through this, Sangeeta kept alive her love for jewellery and design. Her earliest memories are of playing with her mother’s jewellery box and accessorising her clothing in different ways like using a necklace as a belt. She always knew she would either be a jewellery or a fashion designer.

Sangeeta had married into a family that would encourage her to take forward this interest and passion. The family owned Silver Centrre, which was founded in 1897 by Seth Kistoor Chand Boochra.

Designs on silver

Priyanka Chopra wearing Sangeeta Boochra jewellery

In 1995, encouraged by her father-in-law, Seth Lalit Kumar Boochra, she joined the company as a designer, with her signature style of using gold matt finish in silver jewellery, a technique not achieved until that time.

“I started kundan in silver, matt finish jewellery, jhumkas with leaves and pearls strung around, use of high quality gemstones in silver, rope chain necklace with gemstones and silver, mixing of tribal glass and thappa dye technique with kundan and gemstones,” she explains.

Soon, her unique pieces gained popularity. This meant they had to change the entire production process, increase capacity, employ more karigars, and increase security measures as the work she created was very delicate and intricate.

Sangeeta took over the business as a decision maker after her father-in-law passed away in 2016.

Her foray into the business led to significant changes. “We have created a niche through our design language – we are creators and initiators in what we do. Today our jewellery speaks, when someone is wearing Sangeeta Boochra, it speaks that it has come from us, which I feel no other brand has been able to achieve on a larger scale,” she says.

Unique and affordable

There are different ranges for every market, but the focus is on tribal jewellery, old Indian jewellery, jewellery from different countries of the world, kundan meena jewellery, gemstone-studded jewellery, plain silver jewellery and contemporary jewellery. The range starts at Rs 1,500 and goes up to Rs 3 lakh.

“I am inspired by the rich heritage and culture of India, whether it is Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat, and the Boda tribe or tribes of Tamil Nadu. I am also inspired by Kashmiri tribal jewellery, Afgani jewellery, and jewellery from Uzbekistan.”

Sangeeta Boochra jewellery is sold through third party ecommerce websites like Myntra, Amazon, Jabong, Flipkart, Pernia, Jaypore, Aza, Ogaan, LimeRoad, and Carma. It also has flagship stores, franchisee operated stores, shop-in-shops, etc.

Jewellery of the celebs

Celebs wearing Sangeeta Boochra jewellery

Sangeeta Boochra as a brand is associated with big names like Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Vidya Balan, Raveena Tandon , Madhuri Dixit, Priyanka Chopra, Sonali Bendre, Kajol, Aishwarya Rai, and others.

It was also the jewellery partner for movies like Veere Di Wedding, Luka Chuppi, Zoya Factor, etc.

Popular pieces among A-listers include two-tone jewellery, oversized earrings, statement necklaces in antique silver, and two-tone finish.

“Deepika has worn our three-layer jhumka and our turquoise necklace with engraved jhumkas. Vidya Balan loves wearing our antique-style tribal necklaces; she carries our long necklaces really well with our oversized earrings and chaandbalis. Alia Bhatt loves wearing our gold/kundan chaandbalis and handmade painting earrings; she carries off our tribal jhumkas really well,” Sangeeta says.

Empowering artisans

Shilpa Shetty wearing Sangeeta Boochra

The journey to make the family business into a well-known brand has not been an easy one. Sangeeta says her biggest challenge has been to bring artisans together, make them understand what she needed, and then get the work executed on time.

To facilitate this, she started a community development programme along with her father-in-law in 1998 to train people from underprivileged backgrounds to become jewellery artisans through community mobilisation and skill training. They are also offered social development support, better health, life skill education, sanitation, and other social imperatives.

Presently, Sangeeta heads a team of 2,000 traditional karigars and artisans handpicked from Rajasthan to give shape to her unique designs.

On the future, she says, “I want to open a design school where I can teach and impart knowledge to students. I feel there is lot of potential in youngsters and they can take our Indian design language to the world.”

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)