Ahead of International Women’s Day we caught up with Jewellery Valuers Association Registered Valuer®, Raji Ashwin MJVA, Director of Treasured Valuations consultancy. Join us as we learn about her journey through the world of jewellery, from manufacturing to designing and selling jewellery before developing her valuation business.
Raji has been around the jewellery trade for as long as she can remember. Her father (and her grandfather before him) ran one of the largest manufacturing companies of Indian jewellery in the UK, supplying stores across the country throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
When asking her father why he worked so hard he would say he was making jewellery so Raji could have jewellery at her wedding! As a child, Raji fondly remembers going on sales trips with her dad, waiting patiently in the car for him to finish his meetings. She was also in the workshop from an early age, around all the tools, casting machines and wax injectors, watching and learning how they worked and what was involved to create the intricate Indian jewellery that is so familiar to her.
Later, she recalls, watching and helping her grandmother at the family dining table, making the tiny gold beads that feature so strongly in Indian jewellery.
It wasn’t Raji’s intention to work in the trade; she had other plans. Following a degree at Loughborough in fashion, art and design she intended to design children’s wear, but her family were having none of that. She was of course expected to join the family business and that is what she did, because you know, ‘you did as you were told!’
So, her family opened a jewellery store and Raji joined them, developing her selling skills and achieving an extensive knowledge of jewellery. Later, when she moved to London, her brother took over the business in Leicester and still runs the shop today with their mother.
Meanwhile, Raji continued in the jewellery trade, taking up a role at Theo Fennell in Harrods - a totally different world from the one she was used to. Surrounded by some of the finest international brands, seeing completely different styles of jewellery and discovering luxury watches for the first time. It gave Raji the chance to appreciate fine jewellery and high-end watches and of course, to keep learning.
Raji had various roles over the next few years, mainly in sales and manufacturing before completing a CAD jewellery design course, which allowed her to return to her beloved art & design. This progression led her to develop her own business of designing bespoke jewellery for customers.
A change in circumstances in Raji’s life found her having to start over again. However, a part time job with a jewellery retailer allowed her to balance work life with caring for her children. Frustration set in though, as she had experience and knowledge but no formal qualifications, it was hard to do more at this point.
Determined to persevere, Raji set up her own silver jewellery company, as well as working part time and looking after her children. The company did well and won many awards along the way, before Raji’s love of watches inspired her to take a different direction and move into the luxury watch market.
Naugari - A traditional Rajasthan bangle with pointed bell shapes
Drawn and illustrated by Raji Ashwin
Here she experienced and learned about the luxury watch brands including Patek Philippe, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin and took the lead role for Cartier. Yet, Raji knew that there was still more she wanted to achieve.
An open evening, talking about gemmology at Gem-A, re-ignited Raji’s passion for the jewellery trade and she decided her next step would be into gemstones, jewellery and watch valuation. Excited and passionate about this and how it would encompass all those years of experience, Raji also realised this would also give her the chance to really ‘own’ an aspect of her career again and the journey began to become a Registered Valuer.
That was five years ago, many qualifications have since been achieved, from gemmology (Gem-A) to appraisal qualifications (NAJ’s CAT), and Raji continues to study because as Valuers she is aware learning never stops. She explained,
‘…we must follow a strict programme of Continuing Professional Development to maintain our registered valuer status in this fast changing industry, but that is what makes it so rewarding and what drives me to be the best I can be!’
Satlada haar - Satlada has seven layers of pearls or gems, woven or attached
Drawn and illustrated by Raji Ashwin
In early 2020, Raji decided to leave the retail jewellers and launched her own valuation business, Treasured Valuations consultancy. Raji is particularly proud to encourage ethnic diversity and is passionate about raising awareness of Indian jewellery valuations.
Despite the pandemic, the business is growing steadily, and she is establishing her valuation business in all areas, including a particularly special niche for valuing Indian jewellery.
We hope Raji’s story inspires other women, of all ages, to keep believing in themselves to aim high and achieve their dreams. Everything is possible with hard work and determination.
Rajis favourite quote:
We always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe most strongly, expect at the deepest level and imagine most vividly.
Raji Ashwin MJVA is an independent JVA Registered Valuer® based in Harrow, providing a home visit service, and also through selected retail jewellers.