IMAGE: Kiara Advani stuns in sculpted emerald jades Amaris choker by Prerna Rajpal.
Photographs: Courtesy of Prerna Rajpal / Instagram and Amaris / Instagram
Amaris is the original idea of Designer Prerna Rajpal which gave jewelry design a chance to create stunning, affordable designs for women.
Her journey began in 2008 as an experiment, when she redesigned an old piece of jewelry for her mother-in-law’s client.
A decade later, her products seem to have found their way into several celebrity wardrobes.
Prerna creates her jewelry trying to keep it as individualistic and creative as possible.
In a conversation with Anita Aikara /Rediff.com, she talks about her journey, creating an emerald necklace for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and how the foreclosure affected her business.
You left your CA career to create jewelry. What prompted you to do this?
In 2008, I pursued a career as a chartered accountant at an international consulting firm in New York.
It was then that I decided to embark on jewelry creation.
At that time, there were few high-end brands that created great designs but were unaffordable for most women.
I wanted to bridge that gap and design a line that would be interesting and worthy of being declared. At the same time, I wanted it to be affordable.
It all started with what I like to call an “experience” with a client of my mother-in-law, who was looking to redesign an old ornament.
I took the initiative, worked with the designers and prepared the final piece. The result was an elegant design which made the customer truly happy.
The experience gave me the confidence to turn my passion into reality.
I then decided to hone my skills by earning a jewelry design degree from the Gemological Institute of America in California.
How big was the team when you started out?
I started very small. There were only two karigars and a production manager to assist me. The first workspace was my house itself.
From there we have now expanded to 12 karigars and a team of professionals to manage operations.
My initial investment in the business was around Rs 20-25 lakhs, which I borrowed from my husband.
I started my initial ideation phase in New York City and I had inspiration literally all around me.
I would take inspiration from New York museums, people walking the streets, etc.
IMAGE: Prerna creates jewelry that celebrates the woman in you.
What were the challenges you encountered during your early days?
What turned out to be the biggest challenge for me was getting used to the dynamics of the jewelry industry.
In my mind, a really big change was moving from the corporate space where everyone is motivated and professional to an unorganized space where I had to lead the artisans and karigars.
The corporate world was all about dealing with the smartest minds; here it was all about creativity.
Another difficulty was that the jewelry trade is a risky and investment driven game. It takes a lot of capital to conceptualize a brand.
This is the reason why many designers enter the industry but fail to make their mark.
When I started out, I only had 5-6 designs of each type of jewelry.
However, buyers demanded variety, which was expensive to provide.
In addition, a certain form of trust between the creator and the consumer is necessary in the fine jewelry sector.
People must believe in the brand’s credentials before investing in these valuable pieces.
What is the design or success mantra that you follow?
Understanding the sensitivity of the consumer is one of the most important aspects of jewelry design.
My approach to design is very individualistic. I think personalization is the key to success in this business.
What I wanted to bring to the market was the whole experience around buying jewelry, depending on the buyer’s mindset and personality.
Business women may be looking for a very different type of jewelry than flamboyant one.
I wanted to address all of these aspects of the modern woman.
IMAGE: Prerna’s most memorable piece of jewelry is the one she created for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for a Brides today Photo shoot.
You have created jewelry for several celebrities. What would be your most memorable piece and for whom did you create it?
The most memorable piece of jewelry is the one I organized for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Brides today.
It was a majestic necklace of Zambian emeralds with fancy shaped diamonds. It’s always very close to my heart.
I had to keep in mind that the shooting was taking place in Paris.
I really couldn’t imagine anything better than a 50 carat emerald set with dazzling diamonds.
What are some of your most important learnings while in lockdown?
Lockdown has been difficult for everyone across the world and it has come with its own set of ups and downs.
It was a phase of learning, unlearning and relearning many things in both personal and professional life.
This was also the phase where we launched our e-commerce website, which had been under construction for a long time.
Amaris has clients in India, Dubai, Singapore, London and New York.
It was a challenge for them to come to India whenever they wanted to make a purchase.
I think foreclosure to some extent has also been a game-changer for our business as we have moved into the digital space to cater to a larger audience.
Has the pandemic affected your business?
Things were slow in the initial phase of the lockdown. People faced a setback during these difficult times.
It was an extremely complex situation for everyone including our artisans.
As a brand, we have done our best to support them as we see them as an integral part of the Amaris family. They are the backbone of our business.
What inspires you to be different?
I believe in the philosophy of creating pieces that are not only ambitious and glamorous, but also reflect the client’s individualistic fashion statement.
I find inspiration in everyday objects, architecture, nature and fashion.
A celebrity that you would like to see in your creations?
Jennifer Lopez! It will be a dream come true for me.
IMAGE: For the launch of Satyarth Nayak’s book Sridevi: Girl Woman Superstar, Deepika Padukone chose an emerald and flowery choker shelves nails designed by Prerna.
What skills does it take to be a good jewelry designer?
It’s about finding a balance.
You need to be aware of the pulse of the market, of buyers, and be able to add your own touch to a design.
Understand the market and what is working well. Combining this with your personal understanding of style and fashion is extremely important.
Advice for aspiring creators
Don’t be afraid to take on challenges.
Never stop exploring and don’t lose your personal style.
Jewelry is no longer just an investment. It’s an extension of yourself, and it gives you so many possibilities to do it all.
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