A love of gemstones has led software engineer Swapna Pinnamaneni to create her own mastercrafted fine jewellery brand, Swapna Rani
When Swapna Pinnamaneni started designing her own jewellery in 2013, she saw it as little more than a creative outlet that would provide distraction from her career as a software engineer. Yet within two years, she was being offered so many commissions for her designs – which are nothing short of exquisite – that she decided to take a break from her profession to concentrate on setting up her company, Swapna Rani, which offers diamond and gemstone jewellery collections, as well as bespoke pieces made in consultation with clients. Now, as her reputation has increased even futher, Swapna is branching into fine silk and leather goods as well as homeware, with the vision of becoming an all-embracing luxury lifestyle brand.
“At first, I had no plans to do anything other than make jewellery for my daughter and my friends, but, within a year, through word of mouth alone, I had to quit my job to take care of this growing business,” explains Swapna. “When I showed my pieces to people, they loved the designs and the quality of the materials; and they loved the craftspeople I was using. Before long, I was able to follow my creative and artistic instincts.”
Swapna carries out all of her business through “niche e-commerce”, rather than having a physical store or selling online. She also showcases her work at private presentations where “elite clients gather with their friends” or at prestigious international fairs. Clients also contact her directly for a commission.
Born and raised in India but now living in Los Angeles, Swapna’s brand straddles the continents with customers as far away as Europe and Australia who are all drawn to the elegant designs, ethically sourced gems and the master craftsmanship involved in every piece. Aspects of Indian culture, however, inspire many of Swapna Rani’s jewellery lines. The Raga necklace and matching earrings, which feature white diamonds and rose gold, are influenced by classical Indian music; while the Divya Collection, made using tanzanite, white and yellow diamonds and rose gold, is named after the Sanskrit word for beautiful. Indian motifs also run through her signature diamond jewellery collections, including East et West, Eternity, Sampradaya and Maa. “My Indian heritage is very close to my heart,” says Swapna. “Having it in my designs connects me to my roots.”
Swapna Rani also offers unique jewellery art pieces inset with rare gems, such as a Burmese ruby or temperature-sensitive pearls, which move when warm to “bloom” like a flower, in the same way human energy flows on a bright and clear day, explains Swapna. Two of these creations, a citrine Ganesha carving and a sculptural brooch of an Indian ballet dancer won category awards at the 2018 AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) Spectrum Designer Awards.
For Swapna, design is about creativity and, importantly, imagination – “with every artist, their imagination comes from experience, their life journey and perception of the world”. This is present in everything she produces. It is how she shows she perceives the universe. “I want my clientele to connect with that,” she says. So, for instance, her Mayura pendant necklace, depicts two peacocks alongside a mother and baby carved into amethyst to symbolise maternity and motherhood. “Peacocks are very important in Indian culture, and my audience connects to that feeling of family and parenthood. That is very important to me.”
Dreams and intention are also important to Swapna. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams, as she did. Her own turning point in her life came when she elected to study gems rather than get an MBA, which had been the original plan. “I wanted to advance my career, but then I began to ask myself, ‘Why am I actually doing this?’” she recalls. “Being an Indian woman brought up in India, I was attracted to jewels and I began to think that I’d like to know more about them. I started learning about gems at the Gemological Institute of America and graduated while I was still working.”
Following those instincts, Swapna concentrated on growing her brand before returning to software in 2019 to balance her two contrasting interests. This approach has allowed Swapna to develop a growing business based on her knowledge of technology and her keen eye for craftsmanship. From Germany to Los Angeles, she hires the finest craftspeople to execute her designs. “I don’t compromise on the quality of the gemstone or the quality of the artisans,” she says. “I have a great respect for their craft and pay them well. When artists are treated well and respected, they feel their work is appreciated, their energy flows and they produce their best work. When I work with my silk weavers or leather workers, I always believe that compassion and kindness is very important. It is the same with my software career. I want people to feel good about their work.”
Collaborating with a range of artisans in India and Europe, Swapna has extended her concept into the related fields of leather goods, home decor, clothing, cosmetics and skincare, to launch an Autumn/Winter collection. She aims to create a luxury lifestyle brand that will bring the Indian influence into all areas of the home, while attracting new clients through the quality of the design and workmanship – as well as her work’s “soul”. “I ask myself, ‘What are my clients missing? Why are they coming to me and what can I offer them in other areas’?” she says. “I am going with the flow and growing organically.
Swapna Rani has had calls from people all over the world who have heard about the quality of the brand’s designs, materials and artisans. Swapna puts this down to “being very agile, feeling the connection and absorbing the vibes. I am flexible and put my creative energy towards the needs of my clients. I hope my energy will help other artisans and creative people through generating work and keeping their crafts alive.”