Amaris is the brainchild of Designer Prerna Rajpal who gave jewellery designing a shot to create great, affordable, designs for women.
Her journey started off in 2008 as an experiment, when she redesigned an old piece of jewellery for her mother-in-law's client.
A decade later, her products seem to have found their place in several celebrity wardrobes.
Prerna creates her jewellery trying to keep them as individualistic and creative as possible.
In a chat with Anita Aikara/Rediff.com, she speaks about her journey, creating an emerald necklace for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and how the lockdown affected her business.
You quit your career as a CA to design jewellery. What made you do that?
Back in 2008, I had a career in chartered accountancy with a global consulting firm in New York.
That's when I decided to give jewellery designing a shot.
Around that time, there were few high-end brands which created great designs but were unaffordable for most women.
I wanted to bridge that gap and design a line that would be interesting and statement-worthy. At the same time, I wanted it to be affordable.
It all started with what I like to call an 'experiment' with one of my mother-in-law's clients, who was looking to redesign an old ornament.
I took the lead, worked with the designers and got the final piece ready. The result was an elegant design which made the client really happy.
The experience gave me the confidence to turn my passion into a reality.
I then decided to hone my skills by getting a degree in jewellery designing from the Gemological Institute of America in California.
How big was the team when you started off?
I started off really small. There were just two karigars and a production manager to assist me. The first work space was my house itself.
From there we have now expanded to 12 karigars and a team of professionals to handle the operations.
My initial investment in the business was about Rs 20-25 lakhs, which I borrowed from my husband.
I began my initial ideation phase from New York and I had inspiration literally all around me.
I would get inspired by New York museums, people walking down the streets, etc.
What were some of the challenges you encountered during your initial days?
What proved to be the biggest challenge for me was getting used to the dynamics of the jewellery industry.
In my mind, a very big shift was moving out of the corporate space where everyone is driven and professional to an unorganised space where I had to direct the artisans and karigars.
The corporate world was about dealing with the smartest minds; here it was all about creativity.
Another difficulty was that the jewellery business is a risky, investment-oriented game. A lot of capital is needed to conceptualise a brand.
This is the reason that many designers enter the industry, but fail to make their mark.
In my initial days, I only had 5-6 designs of each type of jewellery.
However shoppers demanded variety, which was expensive to supply.
Moreover, a certain kind of trust between the designer and the consumer is needed in the fine jewellery business.
People need to believe in the credentials of the brand before investing in these precious pieces.
What is the design or success mantra you follow?
Understanding the sensibility of the consumer is one of the most important aspects of jewellery designing.
My approach to design is very individualistic. I think customisation is the key to succeeding at this business.
What I wanted to bring to the market was the whole experience around buying jewellery, depending on the buyer's mindset and personality.
Corporate women may be looking for a very different kind of jewellery than somebody who is flamboyant.
I wanted to cater to all these aspects of the modern woman.
You have created jewellery for several celebs. Which would be your most memorable piece and for whom did you create it?
The most memorable piece of jewellery was the one I curated was for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Brides Today.
It was a majestic Zambian emerald necklace with fancy shaped diamonds. It is still really close to my heart.
I had to keep in mind that the shoot was happening in Paris.
I really couldn't think of anything better than a 50 carat emerald set in dazzling diamonds.
What are some of your most important learnings through the lockdown?
The lockdown was difficult for everyone across the globe and it came with its own set of ups and downs.
It was phase of learning, unlearning and re-learning a lot of things in both personal and professional life.
This was also the phase when we launched our e-commerce Web site, which was in the works for a long time.
Amaris has patrons across India, Dubai, Singapore, London and New York.
It was a challenge for them to come to India every time they wanted to make a purchase.
I feel the lockdown to a certain extent was also a game-changer for our business as we moved into the digital space to cater to a wider audience.
Did the pandemic affect your business?
Things were slow in the initial phase of the lockdown. People faced a setback during those trying times.
It was an extremely complex situation for everyone including our craftspeople.
As a brand, we tried our best to stand by them as we consider 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 crafting pieces that are not only aspirational and glamorous, but also reflective of the client's individualistic fashion statement.
I find inspiration in everyday items, architecture, nature and fashion.
A celeb you'd love to see in your designs?
Jennifer Lopez! It will be a dream come true for me.
What skills does one require to be a good jewellery designer?
It is all about finding a balance.
You must be aware of the pulse of the market, the shoppers, and be able to add your own spin to a design.
Understand the market and what does well. Combining that with your personal understanding of style and fashion is extremely important.
Advice for budding designers
Don't be afraid to take up challenges.
Never stop exploring and don't lose your personal style.
Jewellery is no longer just an investment. It is an extension of yourself, and it gives you so much scope to just go all out.