Suneera: Inheriting a Passion for Jewelry
Like many woman who are born and raised in India, Suneera Swarup found jewelry to be an inherent part of the culture and the tradition of family, weddings and all types of celebrations. “It is virtually impossible not to be exposed to vibrant stones, gold and the magic of gems—when it is all around you..” Suneera explains. Her passion and eye for creating pieces imbued with unexpected elements were inspired by seeing jewelry that had been handed down through many generations. And, with each new generation, the woman in Suneera’s family added something contemporary to their time. Her mother Kamal and Aunt Santosh were particularly influential when they completely re-fashioned heirlooms by adding personal touches that were truly distinctive and personal to them. “I fell in love with the tradition and owning something that could be passed along and hold so much meaning for each owner. Every piece told many stories about all of the woman that wore the jewelry before and would tell the tales of the daughters and granddaughters who would inherit them in the future.”
Suneera’s daughter Ana, who joined her as a partner in the business in 2013 recalls, “I would visit my grandmother for holidays and watch as all the women in my family pull out rich saris and jewelry. They would take out pieces and plan what they would redesign or if something had to be restored. It was a careful process of keeping the integrity of these heirlooms intact yet making it so they could wear it and not have it just sit in the jewelry box.”
Ana continues, “My grandfather is a doctor and throughout mom’s teenage years, they travelled a lot when he was stationed in different places. They lived in Europe and Africa and one can see a lot these influences and inspirations in the work.”
Prior to entering the jewelry business, Suneera studied and later taught textile design, fine arts and stain glass painting for many years. In 2000 after moving to Los Angeles, she first worked in jewelry retail and then manufacturing. She began to learn every aspect of the business and launched a production and design company for private label brands.
When Suneera launched her collection in 2010, she built upon the traditions that were so much a part of her life but contemporized the old-world essence with a point of view to which the modern woman could relate and wear with ease.
When Suneera, Ana and I chatted we talked about everything from her philosophy to launching her new silver collection.
Beth: Can you describe your design philosophy and some of your early pieces?
Suneera: It’s basically built on what you touch on earlier in the article—the tradition of passing on pieces from grandmother to mother to daughter. When you think about jewelry in this way, it becomes about love, emotion, pride and sentiment, which is universal. I want to continue this significance and tradition by creating special pieces that evoke nostalgia yet are highly wearable in contemporary life.”
Beth: Ana this question is for you, since you came on board did have you shared in the same philosophy or do you brings something else that compliments each other?
Ana: “I remembering rushing back for school breaks (I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York), to plan for a show or help with a photoshoot. Mom’s work and passion has always been inspiring to me. So I was always visiting her studio and learning. Although it was never part of my career plan, I decided to join her full time after working in the fashion industry for a year. My mother’s love of jewelry was contagious. I share her philosophy and am honored to be part of the business. I am currently pursuing a Graduate Gemologist certification at GIA.
I am a millennial, so I do bring something a little different—much in the way my mom saw my her mother and her aunt redesigning pieces that came from a generation before them. I prefer styling eclectically and desire pieces that are easy and everyday.”
Beth: Let get into the silver collection and talk about the inspiration, textures, and technique and how it differs in style?
Ana: “Our goal for 925 SUNEERA is to create ‘go-to’ jewelry—a luxe look that can be enjoyed every day without ever looking over done. My mother and I spent almost a year developing it so that all of the pieces would be what we call ‘essentials’. You will still see the classic Suneera detailing with the old-world inspired hand pave Miligrain and vintage motifs but the collection is much more edgy in feeling—and provides confident bold and clean looks that can also easily pair with vintage Chanel purses. Additionally, we designed each piece to be able to stand on it’s own but we also felt that stacking would be the main focus.”
Beth: Why Silver?
Ana: “We wanted the line to be casual and accessible. Silver is so much fun to play with when it comes to texture. We love the classic satin and brushed finish of silver but wanted to mix it with even more tactile looks. We created a few new signature textures that recall menswear suit patterns. Pieces are accented with champagne and black diamonds. There is a lot of black on black popped by cognac and champagne diamonds and finished with a rustic vintage feeling. It evokes a chic and elegant look that also feels loved and worn in our finishes.”
Beth: What are the best-selling pieces in the silver collection?
Anna: “Cuffs in different widths, and stacking rings. We have designed the collection so women can keep adding to her group of cuffs or rings and individualize the looks so it becomes a personal statement of their style. It all goes with my mother’s philosophy from the very beginning…
“The woman who wears our jewelry has a strong sense of self. She desires a sophisticated
look that compliments her individual style. She is a traveler, lover of art, collector of fine
things and has a strong emotional connection with the jewelry she wears.”
“The only difference is now she can wear these pieces everyday and in multiple ways…