AARTI SONAWALA, a jeweller in Singapore, upholds a proud family tradition of creating bespoke jewellery for clients around the world. We find out what inspired her to build on a gems legacy that spans four generations through her boutique bespoke jewellery brand ART N ASH.
How did you become a jeweller?
My relationship with gems began when I was eight years old. I have vivid memories of going to my father’s office to look at shiny gemstones and diamonds. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this world. My father was the third generation in the business. I was going to be the fourth and wanted to carry this legacy forward with new ideas.
I grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, the heart of international diamond and gemstone trading. I learned so much about the industry just by watching and helping with the family business.
Armed with a degree in business economics, I went to the US to earn a degree at the Gemological Institute of America. It was on the bench at a jewellery factory in India where I honed my knowledge of working with gems. It taught me the intricacies of diamond grading and the nuances that go into making a good piece of jewellery.
After several months working with a jeweller in the US, I decided to start my own business. I was just 23. It was a small wholesale business supplying shops in Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France and the UK.
What makes your boutique jewellery brand tick?
I was never interested in selling to the high street jewellers but went for the smaller, independent stores instead. Relationships mattered here. They had good dealings with their customers, and I as a jeweller, in turn, built great connections with them. My good customers quickly became good friends.
I got married and moved around the world as an expat wife with my husband and two children. Singapore finally became home in 2013. By then, I had run two new non-related businesses, but my heart hankered after gems. It was during a casual conversation with a friend that ART N ASH came about.
When she learned I had expertise and easy access to diamonds and jewellery, she convinced me to start my boutique bespoke jewellery business in Singapore and do what I do best!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t rush the process. Good things take time.
Who inspires you?
I’m personally inspired by my father who was a self-made man. He always let me follow my dreams and supported me at every step. He taught me very early on that you get what you work for, not what you wish for.
Inspiration for my jewellery comes from the amazing women who are my clients. I have lived in so many cities around the world and have met women from all walks of life, each with a unique story, sensibility and style. Art, architecture and fashion also play a part in how my pieces come together.
What excites you most about your work with gems?
Jewellery has a wonderful way of connecting people. I see jewellery as an extension of a person. I love the feeling of seeing a design on paper come to life. Each piece is special because it tells a story that is unique to the wearer. I love what I do because, through jewellery, I make people happy. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of so many special moments during proposals, weddings and birthdays.
What is a jewellery must-have?
Every woman must have a tennis bracelet! It’s one of the most versatile pieces of jewellery and uplifts any outfit. The best thing about ordering one with us is that we can make it to suit your budget – bespoke jewellery in Singapore without breaking the bank.
As a jeweller in Singapore, how does your brand stand out?
We have 100 years of experience and excellence in jewellery production. We are diamond wholesalers and jewellery manufacturers – our strength is in the price because there are no middlemen. We’re also experts at understanding a client’s needs and translating that into a beautifully-crafted piece.
ART N ASH is a boutique jewellery brand founded in Singapore. The prêt line is delicate, modern and easy to wear, with a balance between functionality and design. The bespoke pieces are thoughtfully designed and crafted, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.
Can you give us an insider jewellery tip?
Before buying a diamond, learn about the different types of cuts. Some cuts allow the diamond to be more brilliant, and these can be much cheaper than others.
Need help deciding on the right cut, shape, colour and size for you? Get in touch with Aarti for a consultation at email@example.com. IG: @artnashsg
Looking for more gift ideas for a special lady? Read Gift Ideas for Women of All Ages!
This article first appeared in the November 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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