They say you can find anything you’re looking for in Chandni Chowk market.
Walking the narrow streets of this ancient network of bazaars in Old Delhi, India takes equal parts daring and swiftness. You may need to hop over puddles and dodge rickshaws, but don’t let the crowds of shoppers or the net of tangled wires hanging precariously over your head deter you from exploring one of the most famous markets in the world. Because whether you’re searching for delicate silver jewelry, used college textbooks, vintage cameras, or spices, this is the place to find it. And get it for a great price.
If it’s design inspiration you seek, navigating the many stalls of the jewelry market is a good place to start.
Each shop has its own specialty. If you’re in need of some necklace chains, there are sacks of them on the floors and strands hanging from the ceilings. Each is a different design, weight, and type of metal.
If beads are what you’re after, just continue down the same narrow lane. Jars of a seemingly endless variety of beads line the walls of the small shops you will find along the way.
And then there’s the ribbon! Spools and spools of embroidered ribbon in the most vibrant shades you can imagine are piled in groupings organized by color and texture. Tassels, baubles, and even precious stones are all waiting to be discovered and turned into wearable masterpieces. You just need to have the patience and fortitude to find what you need.
Our former buyer Shannon got to experience the chaotic marvels of Chandni Chowk firsthand.
She traveled to Delhi to visit CFM Market Linkages, one of our partner groups in India, and was introduced to the market by CFM’s designer, Nidhi. As they searched for the perfect beads, chains, and ribbons for our 2017 designs, it became evident how important close collaboration is for fair trade relationships to be successful. A request that seems as simple as “let’s try a different bead” or “please use a lighter chain” may turn into an all day excursion to the jewelry bazaar.
As our buyers know, the better we understand the culture and available resources of our partners, the stronger our relationships will be. If we are aware of how artisans source their materials, we can come up with better design solutions together.
When we have honest conversations with artisans about the challenges they face, we ensure safe working conditions and fair prices. And when we collaborate on designs, we strike a balance between traditional craftsmanship and modern trends.
The Chandni Ribbon Bracelet is a perfect example of that balance.
Chosen during Shannon and Nidhi’s excursion to Chandni Chowk market, the embroidered ribbon used to make this bracelet serves as a symbol of how lovely cross cultural collaboration can be. The vibrant red blooms are surrounded by intricate vines that weave their way around the cuff. It’s a design that reminds us that we are all connected and that beautiful treasures can be found in even the most chaotic places.