In Memoriam: Vinay Singh of India Gems, Beloved for His Thoughtfulness, Dies at 58

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

Rockhound, good friend to many, and founder of India Gems in 1990, Vinay Singh died at the end of February, his family revealed to AGTA on Monday. He was 58 years old and succumbed to a rare and aggressive form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma within just two months of learning about his illness.

Rehana Patel worked with Singh for 21 years, recalling his love of jewelry and gemstones and passion for the business despite not coming from a family in it.

“He studied computer science and quit a good job with IBM to pursue jewelry,” she says. “He didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk!”

In Memoriam: Vinay Singh of India Gems, Beloved for His Thoughtfulness, Dies at 58
Gemstone jewelry from India Gems

Brother Raj Singh followed in his older sibling’s footsteps, lured by Vinay’s love of adventure and travel to shows.

“I remember when he came home and told our father that he wanted to work for himself,” he says. “He went to India to source gemstone beads for resale, which led to importing loose stones and finally to manufacturing silver jewelry with gems. While I was in college, I would help him out at trade shows, and that’s how I joined him in 1992. He took care of the manufacturing, and I handled wholesale sales. Today, India Gems has showrooms in Plano, Texas, and New York City.”

Patel recalls Singh’s stories from his early days of selling dinosaur-bone-set silver jewelry at shows from a 10-foot booth. That booth size mushroomed to 160 feet, and by last July he had opened the showroom in Plano, Texas. He sold to companies large and small, and customers remember Singh for the quality of his merchandise but more importantly for his “heart of gold,” says Sandy Virgadamo, owner of Fantastic Stones & Accessories in Metairie, La.

In Memoriam: Vinay Singh of India Gems, Beloved for His Thoughtfulness, Dies at 58
India Gems’ showroom in Plano, Texas

“I bought from Vinay for 26 years,” she says. “He would do anything for anyone and help anyone he could. I remember when my mother passed, he called me right away to see if I was all right. I was driving and he stayed on the phone with me until I got home, and then he called me every day for weeks to make sure I was okay. I always felt like I was part of his family. We will miss him so much.”

Melissa Geracitano, owner of Higher Ground Silver in Cincinnati, Ohio, did business with Singh for more than 25 years and recalls his warmth, charisma, and how he made everyone feel special. “I just adored him,” she says. As his business grew, he remained as attentive to his smaller customers as he did his larger ones. “He was a kind, family-oriented person who was down to earth and just wonderful.”

While understandably biased, Singh’s brother Raj agrees. “He was liked by everyone and never discriminated against anyone.”

In fact, Raj recently met a longtime customer from Massachusetts who had purchased jewelry from his brother in the early 1990s at a trade show. She relayed how she bought $1,000 worth of goods and then lost the package on the show floor, returning to India Gems to repurchase the goods. Vinay gave them to her, no charge.

In Memoriam: Vinay Singh of India Gems, Beloved for His Thoughtfulness, Dies at 58
Vinay Singh, founder of India Gems

“She said how she never forgot,” says Raj. “He was just a different soul.”

Beyond a love of gemstones, Singh also leaves behind a legacy of horses.

“He had a passion for them,” says Raj. “He has about 30 horses and multiple ranches in India as well as a ranch in Texas. People teased him by calling him the Indian Cowboy.”

Raj; Vinay’s wife, Seema; and two children, Natasha and Vikram, will carry on operations at India Gems, with the magnitude of Vinay’s contributions ever present.

“It will take 10 people to fill his place,” says Raj. “Nothing was impossible for him when he put his mind to it.”

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