Amaris Jewels has become the hallmark of luxury in India. The woman behind this brand known for creating bespoke pieces of jewellery is Prerna Rajpal. But jewellery design was never a part of Rajpal’s plan. This was more of a chance foray. Rajpal talks about entering the jewellery sector, establishing her brand and creating designs that make a distinctive fashion statement.

Back in 2008, Rajpal had a lucrative career in chartered accountancy with a global consulting firm in New York, when she decided to give jewellery designing a shot. She was bothered by the  discrepancy between what the jewellery space looked like and what she wanted it to look like. She said, “There were few high-end designer jewellery brands which created great designs but were unaffordable for most women. I wanted to bridge that gap and design a jewellery line that would be interesting and make a statement. At the same time, I wanted it to be affordable.”

Actress Shilpa Shetty wearing Amaris jewellery.

So it all started with what Rajpal calls an “experiment” with one of her mother-in-law’s clients, who was looking to redesign one of her old pieces. She suggested to take the lead, work with the designers and get the final piece ready. The result was an elegant design which made the client really happy. This is when Rajpal decided to make jewellery design her passion backed by the vision of bringing couture jewellery to Indian women, at affordable rates. Rajpal went on to hone her skills by getting a degree in jewellery design from the Gemological Institute of America in California.

Understanding the sensibility of the consumer is important for Rajpal. Her approach to designs is very individualistic and she thinks customisation is the key to succeeding at this business. Her jewellery is frequently worn by trendsetters in Bollywood, including Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha among many others. She said, “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.”

What proved to be the biggest challenge for Rajpal was getting used to the dynamics of the jewellery industry. She said, “In my mind, a very big shift was moving out of the corporate space where everyone is driven and professional, to this unorganised jewellery 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 the factor that jewellery industry 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 Rajpal’s case, she only had 5-6 designs of each type of jewellery initially. But the shoppers demanded variety, which was expensive to supply. Moreover, a certain kind of trust—between the maker and the consumer—is needed in the fine jewellery business. People need to believe in the credentials of the brand before investing in precious pieces of jewellery.

Amaris Jewels has been working closely with the craftspeople of India to achieve a balance between modern and traditional designs. Rajpal said, “The kind of things we do in India, especially in the jewellery space, is so amazing… There is extreme complexity in setting the stones, diamonds and the mould. It’s all handcrafted and brilliant efforts are made by Indian craftspeople. I just think we need to be better in storytelling. As a brand, we try to have a story behind each piece, so that the artisans and the kind of work we are doing get the limelight, in whatever designs we create.”

Rajpal has an understanding of how the luxury space has changed over the last decade. In her understanding, luxury is no longer about flash and exhibitionism; it’s about what strikes a chord with the individual. One has to know the message and the “story” behind each piece in order for the jewellery to be considered a valuable possession, a luxury. This is something Rajpal has been trying to achieve with Amaris.

She said, “Now it’s all about design. I entered the industry at the right time. Earlier it was about buying some aspirational brand with good designs. But now people also want designs that are unique, distinctive, bespoke and they want the entire experience of buying jewellery. They don’t go into details like how many grams of gold and carats of diamonds the piece has. It’s not just value for money, but the brand and the experience… Jewellery is becoming grander, even in its elegant, graceful designs. What matters is that it should be noticeable.”

So Rajpal’s brand philosophy is based on making a statement with each design. It has more to do with subtlety and an understated glamour than ostentatious gems and metals. She loves to work with coloured gemstones, which she feels give character to any piece of jewellery.

When asked about what trends we can expect in the jewellery segment in the coming year, she said it would all be about changing design sensibilities. But when it comes to people buying luxury brands, she doesn’t think trends matter much.