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Luxury jewellery is no longer just an asset, but an art form: Purnima Sheth

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Purnima Sheth, Founder and Senior Director Sales – Luxury, The Rose Group, ventured into the domain of luxury jewellery in the 80s, combining Indian design elements with refined Western concepts to come up with a winning proposition. She tells The Retail Jeweller how she added a sense of luxury to the buyer’s retail experience and created the famed ‘Rose aesthetic’ as a strategy to build the business

Purnima Sheth, the daughter of a doctor, had always been intrigued by jewellery. When she graduated as a systems analyst from the USA and came back to India in the late 70s, she began repairing jewellery for her father’s patients and friends, and taking orders on the extended family’s jewellery requirements. That was the origin of Rose, at first a wholesale jewellery business that soon evolved into a luxury jewellery retail brand. “My dream from the very beginning was to set up a luxury jewellery brand of Indian origin,” says Purnima Sheth, Founder of the Rose Group, who has contributed across different areas of the business to grow it into one of India’s leading jewellery houses, with a robust roster of HNI clients. Now, Sheth manages international marketing and business development for the Rose Group, while her brother Biren Vaidya, a distinguished jewellery designer, has taken on the role of Managing Director.

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM A CONVERSATION:

The Retail Jeweller (TRJ): What did you set out to do when you founded the Rose Group in 1981? What kind of opportunity did you see in the market?
Purnima Sheth (PS): India has always been a source of inspiration and a large consumer of jewellery throughout the ages. In the early 80s, when I founded Rose, the Indian economy was beginning to open up, and I saw an opportunity to build a jewellery business with Indian design aesthetics and traditions and combine it with Western finishing and craftsmanship.

TRJ: Looking back, what business strategies/important business decisions taken by you over the years clearly spurred the growth of the Rose Group?
PS: One of the key decisions that we took when we entered retail in 2004 was to add a sense of luxury to the retail experience. In the 1990s, jewellery retail had not evolved in India. Jewellery was being sold through large showrooms where a customer buying a Rs 50,000 pendant was sitting on a counter next to someone buying a Rs 20 lakh bridal set. We changed that when we created the Rose Salon, which was branded by the five senses to give our clients the feeling of being transported to Europe every time they entered our store.

TRJ: Can you please tell us about your foray into retail and how you went about acquiring your national and international HNI clients?
PS: In our business, word of mouth is the key to success in acquiring national and international HNI clients. At Rose, one of our philosophies is that the customer is our ‘Reason for Being’. So, we always go out of our way to service every customer to the best of our abilities, and through their recommendations and continued patronage, we have been able to continue to grow year on year.

TRJ: Tell us about the brand’s signature jewellery collections and the target audience. What is its USP in a market that has other high-end brands?
PS: Rose has always been known for its unique use of gemstones in jewellery. From one of our signature collections, Colours of Life, which incorporates two different coloured gemstones with diamonds, to our bridal collection – we always uniquely use gemstones in all our various collections. Our USP is that everything from design to retail is managed in-house; so, every piece we make imbibes the Rose aesthetic. You may love or hate this design aesthetic, but on a table full of jewellery, you will be able to tell Rose jewellery apart.

TRJ: How do you keep track of customers’ preferences? How do you acquire new customers?
PS: Since our business is very personal, every member of the senior management ends up selling. Being on the sales floor and talking to different clients helps us understand the ever-changing preferences of our consumers. Moreover, travelling the world for various trade shows gives us an insight into worldwide trends and helps us to always evolve and remain ahead of the curve. In terms of customer acquisition, the two major tools are word of mouth and digital marketing which helps drive footfalls and queries to our stores.

TRJ: Tell us about the brand’s experiential luxury retail concepts, and how they have fared.
PS: We created an experiential luxury retail concept called the Rose Salon in 2004 by adding the aura of luxury into a retail jewellery store in India. The concept took off and fared extremely well and has paved the path of what luxury jewellery retail stores in India have evolved into today.

TRJ: What are the key focus areas of your current role with regard to international marketing, distribution, retail concepts, and business development? What are your activities on international platforms?
PS: My role has evolved from sales within India to international business development. This includes participating in jewellery shows across the Middle East as well as the opening of our shop in shops within Dubai Mall in UAE and four other locations within Qatar. But that being said, I love to sell and I still love attending to my clients whose continued patronage has helped the business evolve into what it is today.

TRJ: What is your vision for the brand and how do you see it growing in the coming years?
PS: Our vision has never changed – it is to create the first luxury jewellery brand of Indian origin. With the notion of being proudly Indian growing amongst Indians, the acceptance of Indian luxury being on par with that of the West will finally come to fruition.

TRJ: As a pioneer in the domain of luxury jewellery, what is your view of the category today? How do you see it evolving in future?
PS: Luxury jewellery has significantly evolved over the last four decades. When we started Rose, 10 out of 10 customers who came to us would ask for the gold and diamond breakdown of our pieces. Today, that number is just 3 out of 10, and more surprisingly, there are more clients today asking about the inspiration behind the piece than its material breakdown. So, branding has become increasingly important in luxury jewellery as it is no longer just an asset, but an art form.

Every piece of jewellery we make imbibes the Rose aesthetic. You may love or hate this design aesthetic, but on a table full of jewellery, you will be able to tell Rose jewellery apart

Purnima Sheth, Founder & Senior Director Sales- Luxury, The Rose Group

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