Kerala Craftsmen

Kerala Craftsmen

Kerala Craftsmen

Shajilal Pallikuniyil of Kerala, India, is known as “Jalal” in a loft located above a gold shop in Doha, Qatar. Below the thick concrete floor is a glitzy storefront stocked with over $7 million in gold jewelry, peddled by a half dozen Arab salesmen. Customers never know Jalal is upstairs in a secluded area, but requests for handcrafted jewelry depend on it. Jalal sits slouched at his bench and genuinely focused on his projects – 10 hours a day, six days per week. He works beside two younger cousins. The trio rotates six-month paid vacations to Kerala; respite earned by finishing a year-and-half of work. The craftsmen aren’t required to understand the chemistry involved in applying platinum to produce a white-gold finish. They never balance bullion with copper for harder or less expensive alloys. Their sole responsibility is to shape gold.

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