Marie-Hélène de Taillac on Jaipur’s shopping gems

The jewellery designer’s guide to the best of the Pink City – everything from lavish silk skirts to doorknobs to flat-cut diamonds

Marie-Hélène de Taillac at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace
Marie-Hélène de Taillac at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace | Image: Sara Hylton

The craftsmanship in Jaipur is incredible – you can dream of something and have it made the next day. Some of the best things to buy here are textiles – shawls, block-printed fabrics and made-to-measure clothing. Kashmir Loom, stocked at Jaipur Modern, produces excellent Kani work – an amazing weave pattern. The other great resource is Andraab, specialists in super-fine wool and cashmere shawls. For a more hippie vibe, try Anokhi. It specialises in hand-printed fabrics, and has a little café which does delicious fresh pomegranate juice. And in the Narain Niwas Palace hotel – I live in the gatehouse – you’ll find Hot Pink, a boutique that Gem Palace founder Munnu Kasliwaand I started years ago, and is now run by his son; it stocks clothing by Indian designer Pero, children’s things, bags, scarves and block-printed shirts. Andraab, Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, Narayan Singh Road, Rambagh (+91141-257 0110; andraab.com). Anokhi, C 11, KK Square, Prithviraj Road, C Scheme, Ashok Nagar (+91141-400 7245; anokhi.com). Hot Pink, Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, Narayan Singh Road, Rambagh (+91141-256 8932; hotpinkindia.com). Jaipur Modern, 51 Sardar Patel Marg, Panch Batti, Dhuleshwar Garden (+91141-411 2000; jaipurmodern.com). 

Andraab specialises in super-fine wool and cashmere shawls
Andraab specialises in super-fine wool and cashmere shawls

Idli is one of the best shops for home decor – painted tables, printed fabrics inspired by chinoiserie – all designed by Thierry Journo. Anantaya is another; it’s also in the garden of the Narain Niwas Palace, and sells handmade papers and oil lamps – and it’s co-run by a Tom Dixon collaborator, so the aesthetic is lovely. Real antiques are scarce; there just aren’t many historic rugs, gems or ceramics left. One exception is Saroj Art & Antiques, with its great selection of old photographs, Raja Ravi Varma prints, textiles and china. Anantaya, Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, Narayan Singh Road, Rambagh (+91931-489 4104; anantayadecor.com). Idli, Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, Narayan Singh Road, Rambagh (+91141-257 0400; idlidesign.com). Saroj Art & Antiques, A-2 Tilak Marg, Nandnam Apartments, C Scheme.

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Jaipur markets are especially vibrant: the Johari Bazaar in the old city is a must. You’ll find a little lane devoted entirely to weddings, while just opposite, the kitchen bazaar has all things stainless steel: art, doorknobs, tiffin boxes – it’s a very fun atmosphere. The main market is also a great place to see traditional chikan work – white-on-white embroidery. And the Tripolia Bazaar is a wonderful sight in the early morning, when women sit out and make the ritual marigold necklaces. The Kitchen at Jaipur Modern, which is a great spot for quinoa or a pizza, also sells beautiful handicrafts, so you can shop after you’ve eaten. The Kitchen at Jaipur Modern, 51 Sardar Patel Marg, Panch Batti, Dhuleshwar Garden (+91141-411 2000; jaipurmodern.com).

The inventory at Hot Pink includes children’s items, bags, scarves and block-printed shirts
The inventory at Hot Pink includes children’s items, bags, scarves and block-printed shirts

The Gem Palace is a must-see: the showroom is full of heirloom pieces from the royal family and precious stones. In general, if you aren’t in the business, it’s difficult to buy rare stones, so stick to reputable experts. And go for classic Indian jewellery: flat-cut diamonds set in Jaipur enamel and 24ct gold, or Navaratna, the “nine gems”. These can be anything from a simple bracelet to an opulent, incredibly expensive necklace. The Gem Palace, 348 MI Road (+91982-934 0722; munnuthegempalace.com).

Anantaya, which sells handmade papers and oil lamps, is located in the garden of Hotel Narain Niwas Palace
Anantaya, which sells handmade papers and oil lamps, is located in the garden of Hotel Narain Niwas Palace

People often ask about buying saris, which I think are difficult to carry off as a foreigner – Indian women hold themselves very straight – but I do highly recommend Rajasthani skirts embellished with gold embroidery for an evening out. One of the best places for them is Sattva Sarees, where I bought a skirt made from a 1940s-style ikat that is a hit in Paris whenever I wear it. Rasa is another, for printed silk tops and dresses; its quilts, a speciality of Jaipur, are magnificent. Rasa, Jaipur S-55, Ashok Marg, C Scheme, Ashok Nagar (+91141-403 8584; rasajaipur.com). Sattva Sarees, 9 Narayan Singh Circle, Narayan Singh Road.

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