Mr. Kirtilal Manilal Mehta's debut into the diamond world dates to 1918, when he was barely 12.

Until then, diamonds had no place in his boyhood dreams. In fact, in his dreams he was quite content with being a railway guard, signalling red and green flags, and seeing the vast Indian country without having to pay his train fares. However, the sudden demise of his father changed all that. "The death of both my father and uncle, within two months of each other, when I was barely 12, left me with a determination to fill the void created by their loss" recalls Kirtilal Manilal Mehta. With the permission of my other uncles, I began working in our branch in Rangoon to carry on their work.

Late Mr. Manilal & Mrs. Mena Ben, parents of Mr. Kirtilal Mehta (Bapaji)
Young Kirtilal

A scion of the well-known Suraimal Lallubhai family of Palanpur, Gujarat, Kirtilal Manilal Mehta was practically brought up on diamonds. Pioneers of the Indian diamond trade, the Surajmals were respected in the industry for their honesty and fair dealings.

Young Kirtilal's father Manilal Lallubhai was one of the most charitable people of his time. A diamond merchant in his own right, Manilal Lallubhai had been a partner in the company where his son began his career.

Bapaji sitting in the middle on the ground outside the office in Rangoon in Burma
Young Kirtilal sitting on the ground 2nd from left and Surajmal Bhai his uncle sitting in the middle in Rangoon.
Lilavati Ben with Bapaji’s sister.
Lilavati Ben before her Marriage.
One of the early photos before travelling with his wife.

In 1953, he moved to Antwerp, Belgium, and settled there. He expanded his business from there to Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Israel and Bangkok.

Great Philanthropic Work

His late wife Lilavati helped Kirtilal a great deal. She travelled with him everywhere, After his children grew up, Kirtilal immersed himself in Philanthropy work. His family is now completing a project he had begun in his wife's memory: a hospital in Bandra, north west Bombay.

It will soon be inaugurated and is called the Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical Trust. Kirtilal had a fine sense of humour. He was very friendly and religious, but not involved in religious activities. He lived in Antwerp in complete Indian style, surroundings and had completely Indian habits. His house was open to one and all. He was an important person, but you would not know it. He was very well regarded by the Belgian people as well. He did not know the local languages, Flemish or French; but that was no hurdle. It did not stop his progress. He was very clever. Without learning the language he was able to grasp things and know exactly what the other person wanted. He adapted very quickly to change. That was his biggest plus point. He got to know very quickly about new trends in the industry, the new requirements for diamonds, the change in fashion. You could put him anywhere in the world and he would adapt.

1st Trip Abroad.
One of the trips abroad with Lilavati Ben.
On their Terrence Garden of Mani Bhuwan Palanpur, Gujarat.
In 1951 a photograph of Mena Ben Manilal Mehta, Vijay, Anila Ben, Lilavati Ben, Kirtilal Manilal Mehta (Bapaji) with their children - Kishor, Prabodh, Rashmi, Rekha
Bapaji & Lilavati Ben with their family from left Rashmi, Kishor, Vijay and Prabodh. Middle standing Susheela daughter in law daughters Anila Rekha and Anita and grandson Miten
Rangoon - Surajmal Lallubhai in center. K.M Mehta
seated second from right.
Trips Abroad

The diamond industry has discovered a rare gem in Kirtilal Manilal Mehta. A diamantaire extraordinaire, who has inspired the very business through his foresight, acumen, and conscientious work ethics.

Dynamic industrialist and outstanding promoter of trade. Pioneer.

Founder of the Gembel Group. Freedom fighter and philanthrope.

A combination that's hard to come by.

Kirtilal Manilal Mehta or Bapaji as he is affectionately known, has been a powerful motivating force not only for us at Gembel, but also for a large section of the trade.

Bapaji has completed 70 years of dedicated service to the industry.

We take this opportunity to felicitate one of the senior-most international diamantaires and present a synopsis of his career.

Meeting of two global diamond giants: Kirtilal M. Mehta (right) with Harry Oppenheimer, De Beers Chief
Bapaji's relationship with the D.T.C. goes back a long way. Much of his success, he claims, is owing to the D.T.C. Today Bapaji shares as warm a relationship with Nicky Oppenheimer as he did with the latter's predecessor and father Harry Oppenheimer.
"Outstanding Promoter of Trade Bapaji is congratulated by Israeli President Professor Ephrahim Katzir.
Bapaji speaking for India in Israel
A light moment with Nigel Wisden, Director of the D.T.C.
Israel home in Savion in his garden
His pet dogs
Bapaji with DTC heads in his Israel office.
Bapaji along with VIPs of Israel of renowned Diamond Merchants at his function.
In Japan
Seating on camel far right Egypt
Kenya Safari
Enjoying the diamond world magazine in his office in Israel
Bapaji with his sons & daughter in Belgium
Bapaji with his grandchildren in Belgium
This picture was taken by Bapaji of his four daughter in laws in Antwerp Belgium.
Multifaceted 'Gem'
Multifaceted 'Gem'

Kirtilal Manilal Mehta, senior Indian diamantaire who settled in Antwerp and then in Israel symbolised India's gems genius. A highly successful diamond dealer, one of the pioneers of the Indian diamond sector, a dynamic industrialist of international repute, a promoter who contributed to the advancement of the world gems trade, a freedom fighter for his motherland, a philanthropist he combined so many rare qualities and achievements. Yet he was unassuming, mild of manner, soft - spoken and so cordial that one could not forget him easily after meeting him once. I was present personally at Antwerp in 1991 to warmly congratulate him when the Belgian Government honoured him with their highest State Award.

He was made an Officer of the order of King Leopold. He received the honour with rare humility and dignity, while a global audience applauded with gusto.

A Product of Toil & Tears :

Not a lucky guy who ascends the Gaddi in succession effortlessly, he was a businessman who weathered many a storm during his long innings of nearly eight and a half decades, reaching prominence by hard work, determination and business acumen. He was also a living example of honesty and integrity.

Bombay India
Bapaji in Mumbai office assorting diamonds.
At a function with Mr. Tata in Mumbai
At the wedding reception of Mr. Kishor Mehta and Charu Mehta with the Nawab of Palanpur and his family.
Bapaji with his four sons and grandsons of his 70 years business celebration in Mumbai.
Bapaji with his four sons at Mittal Court office
Bapaji with Late Indira Gandhi (The Prime Minister then)
Bapaji with his four sons and three daughters at Mittal Court office Mumbai.
Family Members
Bapaji with his grandsons Rajesh & Rajiv
Bapaji celebrating grandsons birthday
Bapaji with Prashant Mehta
Bapaji with three grandsons Rajiv, Rajesh & Prashant
Celebrating his platinum jubilee with his family
Celebrating platinum jubilee with his son and daughter in laws and business associate
Inauguration of cattle home in Gujarat
Bapaji opening cattle home in Gujarat
Bapaji and his grand son Rajesh Mehta taking blessing of his Guru in Gujarat
Bapaji at his home in Mumbai enjoying breakfast with his sons and grandsons
Bapaji at the marriage of his grandson Mr. Rajiv Mehta along with his sons, daughter in laws and daughters, son in laws and his grandchildren
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