Designers find inspiration in all kinds of places and things. For Harakh Mehta, the motivation behind his namesake luxury jewelry line, Harakh, was one of the most universally appealing: joy.
He was, one might say, born with a predilection for it. “My name, in my native language Gujarati, means joy,” he said in a phone interview from Mumbai, where his business is based. “It may sound corny, but people’s eyes light up with joy when I talk to them about jewelry.”
And since Mr. Mehta introduced Harakh two years ago, he has been taking the shapes of peacocks, frangipani blossoms, raindrops — things that bring him personal joy — and transforming them into sparkling diamond pieces.
Now, Mr. Mehta has been named the official jeweler for Le Bal Paris, the debutante ball scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris.
“I selected him because he is passionate about jewelry, and his is exceptional,” said Ophélie Renouard, who 25 years ago reshaped the traditional bow to society into the charity event it is today. “His luxury is unique.”
Mr. Mehta has been guiding the 21 debutantes, who this year include daughters of Rockefellers, Mellons, Julio Iglesias, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jet Li, in their choices of his jewelry to complement their gowns. He also is designing some new pieces, like a tiara for Louise d’Orléans, a member of what many French monarchists still consider the royal house of France.
But the 40-year-old jeweler is no overnight success. “I’m fourth-generation diamantaire,” Mr. Mehta said, describing how in the 1920s his great-grandfather was a diamond dealer in Palanpur, a small city in west-central India, and “was one of the first Indians to go to Antwerp.” He brought back what he learned, and soon many dealers had learned “how to sort, cut, polish, and set diamonds,” Mr. Mehta said. “They handed down their skills from father to son.”
For decades, the family business sold diamonds to private collectors and jewelers. Then Mr. Mehta’s mother started designing jewelry while she was pregnant with him. Did he absorb her influence in the womb? “So true,” he said with a laugh.
Today, the family company, Bombay Jewellery Manufacturers, is a multimillion dollar business that supplies private label pieces to retailers worldwide.
Mr. Mehta worked for the family business after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Rochester and studying at the Gemological Institute of America, but he didn’t like the factory atmosphere. “I felt like I lost the connection to joy,” he said. So he set up his own atelier, employing “15 artisans I picked because they have magic in them.”
Their skilled hands produce Mr. Mehta’s designs, turning his rendering of sunlight into a center diamond radiating rays of sparkling baguettes for rings, earrings and pendants, for example. “During my first semester in upstate New York, I saw the sun for only 7 ½ minutes,” he recalled.
Mr. Mehta has positioned Harakh as high-end luxury jewelry, noting that it uses only exceptional stones and sets them in platinum or in 18-karat gold. Prices range from $20,000 to $1 million or more. Most pieces cost $50,000 to $100,000.
The atelier can produce only 180 pieces per year, so his work is available only at his atelier in Mumbai and four jewelry stores in the United States. Mr. Mehta said he wants to increase the number of outlets, “but I have to be selective, we don’t have enough production.”