Lai – Walk in the alleyways of Old Delhi

lai, chaksu, old delhi, traditional, sterling silver, madeinindia

If you like me carry a little bit of Old Delhi within you, then you will love Lai’s latest collection of jewellery.   Old Delhi to me is synonymous with history, food, cacophony, tradition, culture, jewellery, fabric, books…what I could simply refer to as ‘life’. Have been frequenting this ‘holy place’ since I can care to remember! The food and festive shopping is what pulled our family to it initially; then as we got older, books, its magnificent ‘havelis’ and jewellery got added to our list of ‘must not miss when in Old Delhi’.  So, our joy when we learnt that Puja of Lai was creating a collection inspired by Old Delhi, that was tinted with good ‘ole nostalgia, we had to find out more. Are you ready to walk the alleyways of Old Delhi with Lai? We certainly are.

Meet Puja, the founder of Lai

After graduating from NIFT in India, Puja worked on projects in jewellery, crafts, interiors and leather goods. She also spent this time to further study Gemmology and Art Appreciation. All this while she continued to provide design services to various national and international jewellery houses and work in the craft clusters of Srinagar (Kashmir), Hupri (Maharashtra), Nasik (Maharashtra) and Hajo (Assam).

Then, one fine day, when she was ‘ready’, she launched her jewellery brand where her three big passions, namely: working with crafts and traditional skills, jewellery and history converged under the umbrella of silver jewellery. There was a lot of jewellery in silver out there, but Puja wasn’t impressed by the designs in the market and hence had decided to launch her line to celebrate Indian minimalism while at he same time ensuring that they were wearable, relatable and affordable.  Lai is never ever mass produced and each collection is always a limited collection; just how you would want a special piece of jewellery to be.

A peep into Puja’s day 
A young organisation is pretty much a reflection of its founder. So, we thought that it is only appropriate that we share with our readers, a life in the day of Puja, the soul behind Lai.
Puja wakes up to chai made by her husband (lucky, I say), followed by a little time(disciplined, I see) on social media, after which which she cooks some breakfast for the family and is down to work by 9.30 am and stops in the evening (with a break for lunch, of course!). Evening is time for re-energising with exercise followed by dinner and entertainment by the evergreen idiot box and of course, books.
The Mother-duo wheel of Lai
No day ends without Puja speaking to her mother. A mother who stepped in to help her daughter, in what she thought was going to be some sort of a stop-gap arrangement, but since, her involvement, her responsibilities have been only getting stronger.  This mother-daughter duo are supported by the karigars (aka the production team), who are based out of Jaipur.
Lai’s Design journey

The first ever piece of jewellery that was designed by Puja that got sold was a gold necklace. It was an entry for the World Gold Council’s design competition called ‘Swaranjali’. She was then a student at NIFT, India and that entry made it to the final stage of the competition. Which meant that those designs (on paper) were fabricated and auctioned off at a show. Since then, Puja has continued to find inspiration from history for her collections. This latest one is inspired by the old world charm of Old Delhi.  In Puja’s words:

‘This collection is inspired by a day spent walking around the bazaars in Old Delhi. Noting the architectural details, the distinct iconography, trying to imagine how it must have been in the 17th century and picking up memory stirring small bits and bob to use in jewellery…..

Old Delhi, specifically Delhi-6 (named after the pin code 11006), is where my grandfather moved to from Mathura, in 1939, looking for a new beginning with his newly wedded wife and set up a house. A house my father was born in and where we lived till 1984.

While I tried looking at Chandni Chowk with the intent of culling out details with a fresh perspective, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a lot of it was nostalgia tinted. My own childhood memories plus the numerous stories I kept hearing till much later’.

See Also

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A gift for someone special or a present to yourself this Diwali?
Puja’s advice to upcoming designer – The 2 Ps
‘Find your voice and your very own point of view’, says Puja. Don’t imitate works of brands you admire, she adds. Her advice is to find your own feet and adds that your ability to succeed is dependent on your ability to persevere consistently whilst keeping and displaying patience at every step.
Social media statistics are linked to the perception of success in the world of today, which is far from the truth.  So, to minimise the pain this could cause, especially to a startup, Puja has some advice.  She says, ‘Please take social media and it’s metrics with a pinch of salt. The worst you can do, when starting out, is to give into the lure of wanting many followers. #follow4follow and #like4like can get you artificial likes and followers but they will not get you customers and sales. And you’ll be left posting to bots!’.  So, listen up, folks!
How do you bring home a Lai piece?
Lai ships worldwide. So, wherever in the world you are, you can always rely on a Lai to make you feel at home. Have a read below and click on the link that works best for you.
Add a little bit of the ‘Old Delhi’ charm to your collection with a Lai; Know the story and the inspiration behind the jewellery that you bring home. So, next when you find yourself sitting with a cup of chai, I suggest you give this guide about Chandni Chowk a read too. This is a  Lai curation about the places Puja’s family had patronised over the years and as you know, word of mouth is the best form of reference. Right? Read it right here: 

Uncomplicated jewellery, all thanks to an uncomplicated existence.

Appreciate the sweat and the history behind  the creation; Be Notjustashopper!



All Pictures: Courtesy Lai
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