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Designing Lives: Sethi Couture

Romantic, vintage-inspired design cues and a modern attitude inform these talented sisters’ design style

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As children, they pitched in to help their parents build a diamond and gemstone business — but sisters Pratima (left) and Prerna Sethi never aspired to have careers in jewelry. Pratima went into IT consulting and earned her MBA, while Prerna worked in apparel after college. But the appeal of bringing their business and fashion expertise to the jewelry industry grew on them, and five years ago, they returned to the world of gems to create a fine jewelry brand that reinterprets themes from past eras through a contemporary lens.


Sethi Couture designer feature

WORK & PLAY

Pratima: “The true roots of Sethi Couture began when our parents came here from India 40 years ago. Our father was an engineer and our mother started the diamond company that’s today known as Manak. For us, learning the names of gemstones came as easily as our ABCs or the names of animals. During high school summers or college weekends, we went to trade shows or weighed and inventoried stones. It felt like a hobby, never work.”

CHANGING COURSE

Pratima: “I left the world of IT and ended up at Louis Vuitton. That was my first taste of the upscale quality and heritage that a brand can create. I decided I wanted to do the same thing myself and joined my father’s company. On the side, I started designing a few pieces to see what kind of traction the collection would get. In 2009, I launched Sethi Couture.”

Prerna: “Once Pratima got her start, I helped her at shows. I saw the opportunity to build a successful business making jewelry that we could see our friends wearing. It fits a lifestyle that goes from a business suit to going out at night. We’ve worked together since 2010.”

PARTNERS IN DESIGN

Pratima: “Our design process definitely starts with sketching. Often, we’re sketching side by side on flights. Those are the times when we get to be alone and think. We’ll brainstorm together and I’ll craft the ideas that we both respond to into our signature styles. Prerna focuses more on the creative aspect of our branding, messaging and image. It balances really well.”

EUROPEAN UNION

Pratima: “We have childhood memories associated with Europe, and my husband is European. We spent a lot of time getting to know his family, and it was inspirational to see how people live there. They enjoy fine things every day, like china and silver for an ordinary lunch. A lot of our aesthetic and the desire to make our pieces wearable came from that experience. It took a while to articulate it fully, but that’s where our brand manifesto, ‘elevate the everyday,’ comes from.”

BEATING THE ODDS

Prerna: “Even though we started out in the midst of the recession, we felt we were different enough to succeed. In a downturn, commodity pieces that aren’t different from each other end up competing. We launched with an emphasis on colored diamonds and that was a niche that hadn’t been captured. That’s a big reason we came through the recession and continued to grow.”

A DIFFERENT DIRECTION

Prerna: “When we launched the Mayson line in 2013, we wanted to introduce a totally different concept in silver, which is a metal we don’t ordinarily use in our Sethi Couture line. Mayson offers a more accessible price point with a look that’s contemporary and fashion driven. We didn’t want it to overpower our main brand, but we felt we were missing a representation of colored gemstones. Our parents had beautiful stones from 30 years ago. I saw them and I loved their geometric cuts, which is what you see in Mayson. It’s not an extension of Sethi Couture; it is an independent entity.”


Q&A: Getting Personal With Pratima & Prerna Sethi

What’s something that hardly anyone knows about you?

Pratima: “I was a tomboy. I still play volleyball with a league every Monday — three hours straight!”
Prerna: “Food is one of my passions. I love pasta and could eat it every single day.”

How do you unwind?

Prerna: “Having tea is our relaxed downtime. Whether it’s sitting together at our parents’ house or with our grandparents in India or with Pratima’s in-laws in Belgium, tea time is when we get together to talk.”

What’s your dream travel destination?

Pratima: “An African safari. Everyone describes it as a life-changing experience.”

Prerna: “Angkor Wat. I would love to see the architecture.”

If you could try another career, what would it be?

Pratima: “With my project management background, I want to flip a house.”

Prerna: “I’d love that, too. I would come up with design ideas, zhoosh it and obsess over the details.”


Sethi Couture True Romance earrings

14K True Romance rose-cut diamond stud earrings surrounded by champagne diamonds set in rose gold (0.48 TCW). MSRP: $2,420

Sethi Couture engagement ring

18K white gold engagement ring with oval
rose-cut center diamond. MSRP: $8,800

Sethi Couture engagement ring

18K Ivy necklace with white diamond clusters (7.74 TCW) set in
white gold and black rhodium. MSRP: $36,300

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