By Marie Feliciano
Arpita Navlakha, co-founder and designer of US-based Sutra Jewels, has proven yet again that she has what it takes to make major waves in the world of fine jewellery. Arpita recently launched collections that flawlessly translated her artistic vision into an array of edgy, flamboyant and finely crafted cocktail rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces set with quality Paraiba tourmalines, opals, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, turquoises and diamonds to name a few.
Founded in 2008 by Arpita and her husband, Divyanshu Navlakha, Sutra, which means “a collection of sacred verses” in Sanskrit, unveiled at BaselWorld 2016 its Feathers, Flutters, Fringe and Fans collections. Some of the standout pieces included a pair of fan-shaped earrings with pink opal cabochon centre stones surrounded by pink sapphires and diamond accents; an open-front collar necklace set with emeralds and diamonds, and styled with tusk-like ends; a bracelet of Australian opal doublets and sapphires; and a pair of long feather-inspired earrings set with rose-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds. Every item in Sutra’s collections reveals Arpita’s signature look – striking coloured gemstone combinations (from monochromatic colour schemes such as turquoise cabochons against a backdrop of blue sapphires, and pink opals on pink sapphires to the classic coloured gemstoneand- white diamond combination), cabochons mixed with rose-cut stones, and big, bold designs that draw attention to the wearer.
In this Q&A, Arpita talks about Sutra’s growing retail presence, highlights the brand’s latest collections and explains how the jeweller managed to carve out a successful niche within the industry.
JNA: What were some of the milestones that you hit in the past year?
Arpita: The most exciting thing for us was when we opened doors in some very important stores, both independent retailers and departmental, which we have been working towards. This was a victory for us in this economy. We are also implementing some major online sales tools for our clients, which are new for us as well.
JNA: What are the most exciting collections that Sutra has lined up for 2016?
Arpita: The Sutra Movement Collection is very exciting. The new line that we launched in BaselWorld consists of Feathers, Flutters, Fringe and Fans, all of which are inspired by effortless feminine movement.
JNA: Why did you decide to strike out on your own and launch your jewellery business?
Arpita: In 2008, we began the early stages of Sutra and by 2009, in the middle of a US economic crisis, we decided to go for it. Since many people were closing their doors, there was a wide open space for us to create a niche for ourselves in the market unlike anything that had been seen before. Our global success followed swiftly after since we were extremely well received at the international shows that we participated in.
JNA: What were some of the best business decisions that you have made in the last eight years?
Arpita: Jumping into the industry in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis is one of them since this has led to so much opportunity for us. We also did the right thing by getting our own atelier. This investment has enabled us to create incredibly crafted pieces in our boutique-style manufacturing facility where we can pay close attention to every detail in all the stages of jewellery production. We are extremely proud of this.
JNA: What comprises Sutra’s core market?
Arpita: Currently, it consists of the US, Europe and Russia. However, we are now slowly but surely expanding into the Middle East and Asia.
JNA: You have been known for your strength in coloured gemstone jewellery design and manufacturing. What gemstone colours are in stronger demand this year?
Arpita: Always desired and never forgotten are ‘The Big Three’ – ruby, emerald and sapphire. This year, however, emeralds and Paraibas are especially popular among buyers.
JNA: Given the current macro-economic conditions, what do you think are the jewellery products that will perform best in Europe, North America and Asia in terms of price points and style?
Arpita: We make very versatile pieces for the global woman to be worn in many markets. Now, with our new line, we’re offering the same craftsmanship and quality in smaller, less gem-intense pieces. Our highly unique earrings, long pendants or bracelets always do very well for us. That collection mostly falls into the $15,000 to $30,000 retail price range.
JNA: What were your most successful jewellery lines, and what made those click with your customers?
Arpita: Our floral collection has been very successful and resonates with our clientele well. We have made flower petals out of nearly every gem imaginable from a pink sapphire to a purple spinel. Sutra is known for our use of rose cuts and cabochons mixed together, specifically in these collections to fuse the modern with the romantic.
JNA: How was BaselWorld 2016 for Sutra?
Navlakha: This was a make or break year for a lot of exhibitors who chose to return to BaselWorld. We were pleasantly surprised with some new clients from mostly the Middle East and Europe. We were happy to see many of our existing clients return to make new collections. The line that debuted was well received and overall, although traffic was less than in 2016, we had a great show.