There is immense clarity in the execution as I am personally involved right from the design, material selection and construction to the birth of the final jewel making the entire process seamless and this clarity is visible when you hold the jewel in your hands.
Apurva Kothari looks more like a corporate honcho than a jewellery designer. But then appearances can be deceptive. A student of Carnegie Mellon University, with a degree in finance, Apurva suddenly realised that cracking numbers was not what he wanted to do all his life. He joined his family’s diamond business, learnt the ropes and unleashed his hidden artistic genius. Today, SAVAAB, his couture jewellery brand, which is over a decade old, is known for its dreamy and delicate designs populated with rose cuts, pearls and other gemstones and take artistic cues from Indian culture and art, especially Mughal motifs. The supremely talented artist pays attention to proportion as he believes that is the crux of any design. Gifted with a sharp eye for detail, Apurva says, “From a freehand design on paper to the physical construction of a piece, one can clearly see the flow in proportions and the cohesiveness of the gemstones and the metal that go into forming an attractive piece of jewellery.” God is truly in the details, and this is amply proven in Apurva’s designs – from handpicked diamonds, colour stones, and pearls, to adding an extra curve in a design to shaving off unnecessary gold to create a featherweight jewel – it’s all about the minor details that eventually pronounce the beauty of the ornament. Over to Apurva…
You have been in the field of jewellery since 2007. Tell us about your family business that has been manufacturing diamonds since three generations.
My brother Anand and I are the third generation in our family diamond business. My grandfather moved from manufacturing and trading coloured stones in Burma to manufacturing and trading diamonds with his sons in Mumbai. Sourcing the best of polished loose diamonds, on the merits of the best cut and clarity, from the open market proved to be a better way to service the growing number of clients in America, Europe and Asia, and over time the family focused on trading diamonds over manufacturing. Today, we leverage our relationships and apply the family diamond expertise for our jewellery brand SAVAAB, by sourcing our diamonds from the same reliable suppliers that include large DTC sightholders.
Could you tell us what beckoned you to become a jewellery designer?
I studied finance to become a banker. Then I trained to become a diamantaire and finally, found my calling as a jewellery designer. After practical training in Mumbai, I started my career in New York selling commercial and high fashion jewellery to independent retailers in the US, the Caribbean and television networks. In 2007, the Indian market had just started to emerge as a global player, and I found that the niche for high-end, one-of-a-kind jewellery using unusual and unique diamond cuts was untapped; that’s when I decided to establish SAVAAB, to create a fine jewellery brand with exclusive designs combining my manufacturing experience of the West with Indian aesthetics.
Tell us more about yourself – were you inclined towards arts from the beginning?
I hail from Mumbai and studied at Cathedral and John Connon School, and graduated from Sydenham College. I got my undergraduate degree in Finance from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. As a child I was more inclined towards sports, especially tennis, but my artistic ability was honed with the help of my talented mother, who introduced me to art as an extra-curricular activity.
Have you done a course in gemmology and designing?
I have not had any formal training in gemmology or designing. All my knowledge comes from practical training and experience at work.
Do you work around the shape of a diamond and think of a design?
My first step always is to draw a perfect design and then source the necessary material but as nature has it, good quality gemstones are difficult to come by, and occasionally I must work my design around those gemstones.
How often do you discard your designs/ideas? Are there any oh-no moments?
The thought process on the designing is varied. I prefer that the design should not be controlled by a gemstone, thus allowing me free rein to deliver exactly what I visualise. A different style of setting the gems, a floral design or a geometric pattern, reinventing a traditional motif or making something a wee bit more classic with a unique structure… a combination of all these ideas cross my mind whilst creating an extraordinary piece. Surely there are difficult moments when you are developing concepts. Working with fancy cut diamonds, soft colour stones and pearls is always challenging especially when you recut and tailor them specifically for a particular design. It’s heart-breaking to damage good quality gemstones in the quest for perfection but the desired result, when achieved, is even more gratifying. I believe that passion on its own is thrilling, but combined with effort it is more fulfilling.
What is it that sets you apart from others?
The creations take center stage. There is a clear design language in the collection that is difficult to replicate and it comes with a signature style that is very much my own. Currently we manufacture no more than a couple of hundred pieces a year and that provides a sense of exclusivity to our clients. There is immense clarity in the execution as I am personally involved right from the design, material selection and construction to the birth of the final jewel making the entire process seamless and this clarity is visible when you hold the jewel in your hands.
How do you recharge yourself?
I spend time to introspect and declutter my mind at home or travel to find a sense of calm and rejuvenate. It’s something that I need to do on a regular basis. Spending quality time by myself and travelling with family has always helped me unwind and gather my thoughts for future projects.
What inspires you? What is your forte as a designer?
I am fixated with the idea to improve; it’s what drives me and inspires me. Perfection is surely the goal but the path is laid with constant improvement. I always want to do better in terms of design, construction and finish. Apart from the ability to create and at times reinvent, my forte as a designer lies in translation… to translate the design from the idea in my head, to paper and then to the craftsman. You could have drawn a gorgeous design but it’s as important to be able to explain the proportions, dimensions, artistic angles and above all, emotions, to the craftsman to complete the vision. This is where I believe jewellery transcends art as it’s an amalgamation of design and physical creation.
Do you only work with gold and diamonds?
We work with 18-karat gold but I am hoping to incorporate platinum and titanium in the near future. I tend to play with the more classic palette and use diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, tanzanites and pearls and each one has a special, irreplaceable place of its own.
If not a jewellery designer, what would you be?
I would have been a diamantaire but as I have always had an affinity for design, be it fashion, architecture, automotive design or product concepts, I am sure at some point I would have discovered my passion by delving into the design space.
How often do you unveil your new collections?
I don’t design as per collections. For me, it has always been about a specific piece and its individuality, allowing me to offer exclusivity to my clients. Each piece revolves around a unique concept or style. Most of my pieces are one-of-a-kind that originate based on an exceptional design or a special gemstone. Every piece in our collection has its own story; today’s women find earrings to be the most versatile and hence they become the bestsellers.
Which piece do you think every woman should possess and why?
Rose-cut and old-mine cut diamonds bring out a softer and more subtle shine in a piece of jewellery as well as complement coloured gemstones and pearls with just the right brilliance to accentuate the design and enhance the wearer’s personality. We have a unique way of combining these materials and women should look to such pieces from our collection to add versatility and depth to their own collections be it a necklace, bracelet, ring or a pair of earrings.
What is the profile of your regular consumer?
Collectors, women who have a strong individuality and those who understand quality and aspire for an artistic statement piece as against over-the-top jewellery.
Tell us about your expansion plans?
I believe in slow and gradual growth. My focus has always been and will always be in delivering the best in design and craftsmanship, and the desire to grow is only second to that. Aside from the attractive Indian market where we have established a noteworthy presence over the last decade and continue to gain significant brand recognition, we are exploring the Middle-East, having completed our first successful show in Bahrain and at the Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition in Qatar.
Your comments about your journey so far.
The artistic side of the jewellery world is very complex in nature and involves a lot more than just pure design and craftsmanship. It requires a very precise balance of passion and business. Personal relationships play a very important role in maintaining this balance and I would like to thank all those who have been part of this journey.
18-karat white gold bracelet studded with Zambian emeralds, full cut diamonds and rose cuts.
White gold bracelet encrusted with Zambian emeralds, full cut diamonds and rose cuts.
Stylised rose-shaped earrings in white gold articulated with rose cuts, full cut diamonds and rubies.
The linear earrings are composed with graduated motifs set with Zambian emeralds, rose cuts and full cut diamonds. (Far right) The stylised chand balis are decorated with rubies, full cut diamonds and rose cuts.
Fan-shaped white gold earrings fashioned with cognac and white briollete diamonds complemented with rose cuts and full cut diamonds.
The beauteous necklace and matching earrings are composed with South Sea pearls, Zambian emeralds, rose cuts and full cut diamonds.
A beautiful pair of white gold bangles patterned with Keshi pearls, rose cuts and full cut diamonds.