A Last Diwali Party at an Iconic Jewelry Store

The Kamnani family at their store’s signature Diwali party, from left, Gobind, Chandini, Divya, Sneha and Narain

The Kamnani family at their store’s signature Diwali party, from left, Gobind, Chandini, Divya, Sneha and Narain

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: For the last month, with announcements of a liquidation sale, India Jewelers has started a long goodbye, which is hard to take for many of those who have grown accustomed to the landmark store tucked away in the shopping center on Hillcroft and the Southwest Freeway. About a decade ago, it was the same feeling when the oldest Indian store in town – Jay Store,  which was also in the same center – closed its doors as the gregarious and energetic owner Rupa Vyas announced her retirement.

In the same sense, the impending closure of India Jewelers is a retirement for the Kamnani brothers who have been at the same location for 27 years. “We’ve chosen Life over making money,” said Gobind, 50, the younger of the two, one night after he closed up. “We’ve worked the late hours each day (except Tuesdays when they are closed) and missed going to events across town. The time has come for us to move onto another chapter in our lives.”

It is a sentiment echoed by older brother Narain, 52, who is also always at the store, where his wife Sneha and Gobind’s wife Chandini also work. The brothers have worked in the jewelry business for 33 years, started while their father Bhagwan Kamnani still had his two stores – Best of India and Royal India Jewelers – in the Galleria till 1997. Until she passed away almost a year ago, the brothers’ mother Leela Devi would also occasionally drop by, and especially for the annual Diwali party at the store.

So this past Friday, October 6 was especially poignant as India Jewelers held its last annual Diwali party with its customary flair. As usual, there were plenty of appetizers and drinks and many of the loyal customers and friends dropped in to mingle and admire the glittery jewels, ornaments and pieces of Indian art that the store carries. Everything is reduced to sell as the store winds down to closing on December 31.

The Kamnani brothers have no definite plans after what they call their retirement. “We’re going to travel a bit in India, help other people and enjoy ourselves,” Gobind said, “but we don’t plan another business.” And he said they may have another Holiday party before they close.

But at the Diwali party, it was business as usual, as the entire Kamnani clan helped eager customers looking for special piece of jewelry. And the constant stream of people kept the store with the iconic ivory centerpiece humming.