“Jewelry was inextricably woven into our lives from the very beginning. It was part of our heritage. But we were captivated by the deeper meaning behind jewelry and the history that embodied each piece – the timeless pieces that told a story with an elegant nod to the past.”
Featured in Silicon Valley Magazine and Town & Country Magazine, Pratima and Prerna sat down with the Women’s Jewelry Association to share their journey as designers and founders of Sethi Couture.
You grew up surrounded by diamonds, which sounds incredible! Did you love jewelry from a young age?
Pratima: Jewelry was inextricably woven into our lives from the very beginning. It was part of our heritage. We grew up around incredible women who celebrated jewelry in their everyday life. But we were captivated by the deeper meaning behind jewelry and the history that embodied each piece – the timeless pieces that told a story with an elegant nod to the past.
We loved seeing how our mother celebrated milestones or important occasions by finding a unique piece of jewelry, it would eventually hold a memory. Our mother’s jewelry box was a treasure trove…one that holds incredible memories and when she shared the stories with us it brought her joy. Her collection was a window into the past, a sort of time capsule, and the jewelry truly tells her personal journey.
How did having parents in the diamond industry shape your interest in jewelry?
Pratima: Our mother had a distinct feel for jewelry and our father had an innate business acumen and an artistic sensibility. The coming together of the creative and the entrepreneurial inspired us continuously. To be honest, we had never imagined leaving our corporate jobs to launch our own brand but we could not deny that we had a passion for building something that had meaning and jewelry to us has incredible meaning that lasts a lifetime.
When did you decide to join forces and launch Sethi Couture, and what led up to that moment?
Pratima: After completing my MBA, I officially launched Sethi Couture in 2009. I wanted to design jewelry using vintage cuts and natural color diamonds with timeless details that celebrated a woman’s personal taste and evolved with her lifestyle.
Prerna was still working at Gap Inc. as a senior merchant. She had a lot of experience with working on the product life cycle, merchandise planning, and the supply chain. She also had a background in architecture and would create these beautiful hand renderings. We would continuously talk about working together on building Sethi. She was ready to take the leap in 2010 and we’ve worked together ever since.
How would you describe the style of your brand/the pieces?
Prerna: The Sethi Couture style is an intricate blend of vintage details with modern elegant designs for the women who appreciate the little things to elevate her everyday. Each piece is thoughtfully created to showcase the natural beauty of diamonds, defined by unexpected cuts, details and design that reflect Sethi’s signature style and tells a woman’s story. We design pieces that have an everyday confidence with an elegant sophistication!
What are some of Sethi Couture's signature pieces?
Prerna: Our stacking rings are our most coveted signature collection. Each band is designed with delicate details that evoke a rich history and with rare diamonds that tell a story...a story of your past, the present and what's to come.
We are not big on trends. We want you to enjoy your pieces today and for generations to come. We design pieces in 18k gold that are timeless yet distinct and crafted with high quality and intentionality.
The exciting part is seeing how women find the perfect combination of our classic bands with intricate bands to define her personal style, celebrate her journey, and can evolve with her. Whether it is combining heirloom pieces or starting her stack off fresh, our bands add a renewed relevance to her style. A band can be feminine, edgy, minimalist, architectural, playful. It can be with natural color diamonds, mixed metals, or vintage cuts. It will be her most cherished piece she can enjoy every day and is ultimately all about making it her own.
Often, we see it become a tradition for women to add stacking rings each year to celebrate themselves. We love that! Many of our signature designs have been in the line for years such as the Dunes Multi-Color band, the Cien rose cut diamond necklaces, the Lucy heritage band and continue to be our best sellers.
What were some challenges early on?
Pratima: Being an entrepreneur is both exciting and frightening. There is never a dull moment and early on we had no balance. We worked long nights, weekends, and we couldn’t help but constantly talk about what we were building because it was exciting, and we were passionate. It was non-stop. We had to learn to create space for ourselves and determine how to incorporate our lives with work and we are still trying to find that balance if that’s even possible!!
How has the pandemic affected your business, and how did you pivot during the last 1.5 years?
Prerna: The pandemic allowed us time to evaluate our strategies, determine what was important, and reprioritize.
At the onset of the pandemic, we were nervous; instead of letting fear control us, we started taking action. Our team was extremely nimble and quickly transitioned to digital. We came up with innovative ways to maintain our business and ultimately thrive. Pre-pandemic our e-commerce business was nominal and as we pivoted, we grew our digital business significantly. It was exciting to see more people buying fine jewelry online.
We also shifted to trunk shows on zoom, we assembled pick boxes and hand delivered them for our clients who were looking for timeless pieces or ways to celebrate the ones they loved. Jewelry is something that will stay with you forever and more than ever people valued those investment pieces instead of fast fashion. We also had some time to be creative especially with our digital content. We started a series called Tea time with Sethi on Sundays on IGTV. It was a fun way to connect with our clients virtually.
More importantly though we found ways to give back that became even more significant to the foundation of our brand. We ran a campaign for No Kid Hungry in March of 2020 and soon after we focused our efforts on building awareness for issues on diversity, equity and inclusion for the BIPOC community through the platform of our brand. We are still doing the work.
We somehow accomplished a lot in the last few years including opening our second gallery in Palo Alto, California and we could not have done it without our spectacular team, our clients, our families, and everyone who supported us along the way. It is really beautiful to think about what we can all do when we work together.
What do each of you bring to the table?
Prerna: I am passionate and meticulous! My sister is calm and collected. We have different yet complementing personalities and you can see it in our designs of both classic and contemporary. Our differing personalities allow us to continuously challenge each other creatively and operationally and keep things into perspective. This has been important for our steady growth.
How did the brand evolve since launch?
Prerna: In the beginning we focused solely on product design and manufacturing. Now we are more conscious than ever about defining our brand values and ensuring our product and company reflects those values. It’s really important for us to connect with our clients and our partners on a human level as they are no longer just buying jewelry but also the ethos of our brand. This shift has allowed us to design more intentionally and work with partners that are aligned with our values.
What do you think the Silicon Valley-based customer is looking for?
Pratima: Silicon Valley has had a reputation of sweatshirts and jeans. Today, there is a casual elegance that is undeniable. We are excited to see that clients are having more fun with their jewelry, enjoying it everyday, and finding those special pieces that showcase their personal style. In addition, our clients here are thoughtful and socially minded. Consumers have a choice of who to spend their money with and they want to support companies whose values align with theirs. That is important to us.
What excites you most about what you do?
Prerna: It’s been exciting to hear and see how our stacking bands have an ability to empower women and even bring a sense of calm. We started designing these events a few years back called “BYOB” parties or Bring Your Own Bands parties. When women attended the event they’d share their amazing stories about why or when they bought their first stack and stories about how they play with their rings and its given them a sense of calm when they do! Ultimately getting to work with women to find their perfect combination that speaks to them is rewarding.
It's also been exciting that what we do has an ability to provide good in the world. We find ways to take our passion and give back to those who were in need of it the most through proceeds of our jewelry sales going toward charitable organizations. In the past year, through the proceeds of our sales we’ve been able to donate to a number of charities such as No Kids Hungry, Room to Read, NAACP, and Give India. All of this reminding us that what we do can be a source of human connection.
Lastly, what can readers expect from Sethi Couture in the next few years?
Next year will be 8 years since we opened our flagship store! We have a few things in store to celebrate as we continue to create, grow, push, and innovate for 2024 in ways that will take us through the next few years. We hope you can join us for the journey!