By Naveed Rozais
Semi-precious gemstone jewellery brand Aviika launched its first exclusive jewellery collection titled “AQUA” at The Design Collective (TDC) on 19 September.
Designed specifically for the TDC client, the AQUA collection is based on the semi-precious stone “aquamarine”, a stone that evokes the purity of crystalline waters and the exhilaration and relaxation of the sea. Aquamarine is associated with tranquillity, serenity, clarity, and harmony and inspires truth, trust, and letting go.
The Morning Brunch sat down with Amanda Wijemanne-Rosairo, the brains behind the brand, for a closer look at Aviika and what inspires it.
What’s the story behind Aviika?
Aviika began in 2018 when I saw a gap in the jewellery market where you weren’t able to buy jewellery with genuine stones at an affordable price. My family is in the gem trade, and the family business, Anura Wijemanne Associates, has over 20 years of experience in exporting stones and providing lapidary services.
I’ve always wanted to have a brand of my own but was never quite sure what I wanted my brand to be. After working at MAS Holdings for over five years, I joined the family business and fell in love with gems and jewellery. I had the luxury of being able to work with genuine gemstones and realised that in the jewellery market, you had either high-end fine jewellery that used genuine precious stones and metals or costume jewellery with fake stones. There was no in-between, especially for people my age and the executive middle management category, for those who wanted to make an investment in genuine gem jewellery but couldn’t spend hundreds of thousands doing so.
How did you build the Aviika brand?
Once I realised that jewellery was something I could get into and that there was a gap in the market, I decided to create a brand that could help people like me invest in genuine gemstone jewellery. Genuine gems are indeed an investment, even if they’re not diamonds or sapphires.
I wanted to name the brand something that was catchy and easy to remember and I liked the letter “A” because almost all the names in my family begin with A. Aviika is a Sanskrit word for diamond. Obviously, Aviika doesn’t deal in diamonds, but the name caught my attention and I just went for it. We launched Aviika in September 2018, and it’s been a wonderful journey. We sell mainly through our social media platforms on Facebook (www.facebook.com/aviikajewelrySL) and Instagram (@aviikajewellrysl). Pop-up culture has also given the brand a big push in helping get our name out there.
Aviika’s defining quality is that its an affordable investment in quality jewellery that can stand the test of time, just like fine jewellery. Aviika jewellery uses semi-precious stones, set in 18K and 22K gold-plated sterling silver and brass.
How does an Aviika collection come together?
Aviika also focuses on creating novel designs that are different from what you could get elsewhere. We work with a range of coloured semi-precious stones, from the old favourites like garnets, amethysts, topazes, and citrines to unusual stones like aventurines, charoites, agnitites, and a whole host of other unusual and beautiful stones.
There are so many different inputs that come together with an Aviika collection. My father has been in the gem industry for so many years, so my knowledge on gem applicability comes from him. My mother has a wonderfully creative way of looking at things and mixing and matching different shapes and colours. My husband is an event planner and helps with launches and marketing materials and similar. My grandmother gives me invaluable input, especially from a finance side, and my brother helps out a lot with getting stuff done. It’s is a family effort, really.
What were the biggest challenges you faced getting Aviika up and running?
Getting the word out on Aviika was a challenge. The fact that Aviika was a new brand and that it was coming in between the costume jewellery and fine jewellery segments meant that people didn’t always realise there was a gap in the market until they saw the brand and that they could actually invest in genuine gem stone jewellery without needing to invest heavily.
The pandemic was also a challenge. Aviika came to a standstill during the lockdown; there were no sales or production taking place. Understandably, people were more interested in spending what money they had on more essential things as opposed to jewellery.
We’ve bounced back though, once the lockdown was lifted, and people started getting out again and going back to their lives. We started receiving orders again on our platforms. The lockdown also led to developing the AQUA collection for TDC because I had the time to reflect and think about how to create a unique premium range for the discerning TDC client.
What’s next for Aviika?
We’re hoping to expand Aviika’s availability platforms. We’re also looking at expanding our distribution and trying to take Aviika into the international arena. My father’s company does quite a bit of work abroad and it would be nice to introduce a Sri Lankan jewellery brand that is homegrown to the international market in a small way.
We’re also looking at creating more collections as well as custom orders where clients come to us with a design or an idea that we can take forward to create a unique piece that can be loved and treasured.
What’s one of your fondest Aviika memories?
Aviika has played a very cute part in bringing our family together. Aviika’s very first pop-up was such that we were signed up for two different locations on the same day. Incidentally, this was also the very first time my then-boyfriend now-husband spent time with my family after I had introduced him to them. Because we had to be in two different locations at the same time, I ended up pairing my mother and my boyfriend (now husband) to man one pop- up, while I manned the other one.
It could have ended very awkwardly, but by the end of the day, my mother and my husband had become best friends. He did a good job answering her “questions”, apparently, and the dynamic worked out very well. It was a very funny and unexpected scenario that thankfully didn’t end in tears.
Aviika’s exclusive AQUA collection is now available at The Design Collective store at Stratford Avenue and online via their website at thedesigncollectivestore.com.