By Esther Ligthart
The Van Gelder family fell in love with Indian jewellery a long time ago. Today it’s up to the second generation to enchant clients from all over the world. They do so by offering an incredible collection of jewellery that often has been long treasured by Indian families. Jewellery Digest sat down with Noëlle Viguurs – van Gelder to talk about jewellery, family and their latest adventure. Noëlle drove us on a unique discovery of the incredible world of Indian heritage jewellery and more.
As a Dutch family, it’s not the obvious choice to go for Indian traditional heritage jewellery! How did this adventure start?
Noëlle Viguurs: Glorious India and its vibrant culture have captured many foreigners’ hearts. Some promise to come back again and some become a part of India forever. One such story is Van Gelder Indian Jewellery.
In the late seventies, our mother, Bernadette van Gelder –van der Ven, was given an antique parure by her brother, who was a dealer in fine antique oriental art. It appeared to be a Chinese jewellery set, and she fell in love with it instantly. The set was not only gorgeous, but also brought an entire story linked to Chinese culture. She started to research these stories and was captivated by the exotic jewellery styles she came across.
In that same period, she started travelling in the Indian subcontinent together with her husband, who had a textile production business in India. Bernadette became fascinated by the country, its culture and traditions and in particular the traditional heritage jewellery. With a few connections in India, Bernadette started her journey and met some Indian families who connected her to the right people. It was her belief and foresightedness that Indian jewellery would be very well received in Europe, even though there was no demand at that time. Bernadette started to collect pieces of jewellery, bringing them home with her, studying and researching each item. This passion resulted in the foundation of Van Gelder Indian Jewellery in 1980. The company started out with small private exhibitions, initially comprising a few items, always making sure that each piece was thoroughly researched and documented and of the highest quality. Bernadette made it her life’s purpose to discover, understand and collect the most extraordinary quality traditional jewellery from India. Through intensive study and research, she further expanded her knowledge of the history and decorative arts of India, understanding and appreciating the use of materials and techniques, becoming one of the leading experts in this field today. We, her two daughters, Fleur Damman – van Gelder (born in 1973) and Noelle Viguurs – van Gelder (1975), also came under the spell of this mesmerizing country and the beauty of the jewellery. Eventually, we took over the management of Van Gelder Indian Jewellery in 2000.
What do people need to know about Indian jewellery? What makes it so unique?
Noëlle: Like no other expert in our field, we recognize and understand the beauty and value of traditional and contemporary Indian jewellery.
No other jewellery style can compare to the richness in meaning, technical superiority, diversity in forms, use of materials and colours of Indian jewellery.
Where can people come and see your collections?
Noëlle: Our gallery is in the Netherlands, one hour south of Amsterdam in the historical city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Our offices (where our designers and researchers work) are open five days a week, while the gallery is open by appointment only.
The power of women
We are deeply inspired by the drive, creative power and the many accomplishments of strong women in life and business, and we are incredibly privileged to be standing on the shoulders of strong entrepreneurial women in our family.
Could you share your best tips for our readers about buying Indian jewellery?
Buy a piece which is in your reach and is unrivalled as the best in terms of quality, rarity, provenance and wearability! Next to that, do as much research as you can before you buy.
About Van Gelder Jewellery
Founded by Bernadette van Gelder – van der Ven in 1980 after she discovered the incredible world of Indian jewellery while accompanying her husband on business trips to the region. In 2000 her two daughters Noëlle Viguurs and Fleur Damman joined their mother’s jewellery business.
From 1985 to 2018 Van Gelder exhibited at the prestigious TEFAF art show. In Spring 2019, the sisters took on a new adventure: Van Gelder Indian Jewellery Contemporary Collections. A visit to their gallery is like a journey. Thanks to their passion, they will take you into the fascinating world of heritage or contemporary Indian jewellery.