Book Review: ‘The Golden Touch’ the iconic story of building Kalyan Jewellers

‘The Golden Touch’ by TS Kalyanaraman is not just an autobiography; it’s an inspiring tale of vision, determination, and the indomitable spirit that transforms dreams into reality. The book takes us on a remarkable journey through the life of the founder of Kalyan Jewellers, a man who started with humble beginnings in Thrissur and went on to establish one of the largest jewellery stores in the country, a behemoth worth Rs 17,000 crore and employing over 8000 people.

In the book, the author shares intimate glimpses of the transformative moments that shaped his life, from being a curious and ambitious young mind to evolving into a seasoned business leader who has left an indelible mark on the world of entrepreneurship. Throughout the pages of this autobiography, readers get a firsthand account of the challenges faced and lessons learned on the path to success.

One of the pivotal chapters in the book recounts the journey of opening a showroom in Palakkad, a small town that served as the gateway to a host of opportunities. The story gives the details of the dynamics of the market at that time and how the bomb blasts in Coimbatore in 1998 had a profound impact on the region. This led to the subsequent shift in consumer behaviour and the rise of Palakkad as a commercial hub set the stage for Kalyan Jewellers’ venture into this new territory.

He writes in the book ‘Let me come back to the days of our jewellery business. We had to confront a lot of realities in the market while opening our showroom in Palakkad. It was the gateway to a host of opportunities. That was what led us to Palakkad – the district bordering Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Palakkad was a small town in those days. The place was devoid of swarming crowds and huge concrete structures. The people of Palakkad depended on Thrissur and Coimbatore for anything and everything. Palakkad was like a household that always depended on its neighbourhood.

Coimbatore wasn’t strange to them, as any place beyond Walayar had a Tamil flavour. For the people of Palakkad, it was akin to having the same affinity towards a relative’s house. The consumers of many shops in Coimbatore were from Palakkad.

The people in the western parts of Palakkad preferred Thrissur to Coimbatore. The Pooram and Vela festivals further cemented their ties with Thrissur. What brought them close to Thrissur were the captivating sights of the majestic elephants and the riveting sounds of the melam where they often lost themselves.

What stands out in this inspiring story is the adaptability and keen understanding of local nuances demonstrated by the author. The book emphasizes the importance of going “hyper-local” in business, a valuable lesson learned from the Palakkad experience. The author also shares how they initially underestimated the differences in consumer behaviour between Thrissur and Coimbatore, leading to a shift in strategy. The key takeaways are understanding the local market, adapting to local preferences, and becoming one with the community.

Author TS Kalyanaraman also sheds light on the transformative role Kalyan Jewellers played in the gold business, particularly in bringing about a standardized approach. He further writes in the book: “Go as local as you can” was the lesson Palakkad taught us. In marketing terms, it is known as going “hyper-local”. It means we should fashion our business style according to the likes and dislikes of the locality. Rather than selling what we have on our hands, we must try to understand what the people want and sell that to them. Trying to sell what we have won’t work. We must keep a tab on what sells in the market and plan a sales strategy after gauging the mindset of the people. We obtain a winning formula by understanding the market trends and including some of our methods in it.

Slowly story moves to other ventures, notably Perinthalmanna, where the lessons from Palakkad were applied, solidifying Kalyan Jewellers’ reputation. The author stresses the need to be in sync with the locals to dispel any feelings of alienation among customers, a philosophy that has contributed to the success of Kalyan Jewellers in various regions.

The disorganized sector, dominated by small traders, underwent a cleansing process initiated by Kalyan Jewellers. It is interesting to know that the introduction of practices like carat analyzers, BIS certificates, and educating consumers about gold purity became a game-changer. The author proudly asserts their role as trendsetters, leading the way for others to follow suit.

An essential theme that comes forward into the narrative is the concept of trust. The author emphasizes the importance of building trust with customers and shares a survey conducted during the inauguration of a showroom in Palakkad. The revelation that 90% of people trusted Kalyan Jewellers due to their faith in Swami highlights the significance of trust in their business. The subsequent campaign focusing on the purity of their jewellery became a part of the journey to cement the trust placed in them.

The book ‘The Golden Touch‘ provides not just a business success story but also a manual for aspiring entrepreneurs. The book’s strength lies in its simplicity, the author shared experiences, lessons, and insights without unnecessary embellishments. The story flows seamlessly, making it accessible to a wide range of readers, regardless of their familiarity with the business world. TS Kalyanaraman’s journey from Thrissur to building a business empire offers inspiration and practical lessons for anyone looking to make their mark in the entrepreneurial landscape.

Book: The Golden Touch the Iconic Story of Building Kalyan Jewellers by TS Kalyanaraman
Published by: Penguin
Price: Rs 699

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About Ashutosh Kumar Thakur


Ashutosh Kumar Thakur is a Bengaluru-based management professional, curator, and literary critic. He can be reached at [email protected]