“It’s like a small museum”, “an experience I never expected” or “this is something unique”
“It’s like a small museum”, “an experience I never expected” or “this is something unique”, were only some of the statements used to describe the little shop owned by Mrs. Javitri Shah. Situated under the dome tower, beside the beautiful little canal in the city center of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Galerie Petillon was one of those little gems that are becoming harder and harder to find in the cities these days. When one entered Galerie Petillon, most got somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer variety of her Southeast Asian antiques and Asian and European jewellery collection.
Javitri Shah (1946-2023) was the kind of person that you would instantly notice as soon as you walked in to the room. Beautiful, charming, elegant and always looking her best, and once you started to have a conversation with her, you would know instantly that she was highly intelligent, sharp of mind and deeply knowledgeable about many subjects. The type of person one can talk to for hours, with a kind soul that enlightens the hearts of any and all that meet them, and a very infectious laugh.
Javitri Shah grew up in India in a small town called Karamanasha, located on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Her youth was characterised by a strict upbringing. In boarding school, she was taught to be disciplined, which fed her eagerness to be the best in class. Although she and her siblings had a decent life, life-lessons were learned at a young age, after she lost both her parents. Which was the start of her becoming a strong and independent woman.
After finishing her masters degree in clinical psychology in Lucknow, she decided to move to New Delhi, where she started working for the US embassy, guiding US soldiers around who were involved in the Vietnam war. After some time she decided to start her own business in high fashion clothing. She would organise her own fashion events, at night in luxury hotels, where she and other models would run the catwalk to present her own designs of high fashion clothes. After a few years she grew out to become a successful and confident entrepreneur, and designer.
During one of her fashion nights she met a Dutchman businessman, whom she would later marry. It was him who introduced her to the remarkable world of antiques, which sparked an interest that would only grow from that moment on. In 1974 she closed her business in New Delhi, when she courageously decided to move to the Netherlands.
In 1979, she, together with her husband and her brother-in-law, founded the company Petillon in Utrecht, just below the famous Dom tower along the old canal. The name Petillon belonged to her family in-law who are Huguenots that had fled France in the 17th century and moved to the Netherlands due to religious persecution by the French Catholic government at that time. In 1983 the company was renamed Galerie Petillon when Javitri Shah took full controle over the business and ran it fully independently.
In 2018 she joined Hessink's as an expert consultant, specialising in Jewellery and Indian Art. In 2020 she was made a partner in the Modern & Contemporary Indian Art Department and Indian Antiques Department, and had been a valued member of the Hessink's team until her death on March 14th 2023.
Javitri Shah's Jewellery Collection