She lives by the motto “Live Life,” which she has tattooed on the back of her neck. Hera Arkarakas has spent her life around jewelry. Her father was a master craftsman and her late husband owned a manufacturing company for which she designed high-end fine jewelry. When he died of brain cancer in 2009, she took some time to envision the next phase of her life. The road led her back to jewelry, but with a different perspective. Using sterling silver and 18-karat gold trim along with gemstones such as turquoise, hematite, smoky topaz, white quartz, mother-of-pearl, and small diamond accents, Arkarakas created jewelry that women can buy for themselves and enjoy every day. Creative, colorful and bold, HERA pieces work for women of all ages, and with price points from $295 up to $2,500 (the majority under $1,500), it’s affordable luxury.
DivineCaroline: How do you feel jewelry makes a woman feel more confident?
Hera Arkarakas: We want to always look good. You want to be able to wear your jewelry. I wanted it to be lighthearted. Something that you could put on, go out and feel good in all day, and then go out in the evening wearing also. I also wanted it be where women could make self-purchases. So it’s not such a scary purchase or “I’ve got to wait for a man to buy it for me” or “I have to ask my husband, my boyfriend.” I wanted to make price-point items, but made like fine jewelry. Jewelry at the end of the day is the final touch to our outfits. Take your casual outfit from being boring to interesting. This collection has unique and interesting pieces that combine different metals, so it gives us the ability to be able to wear our gold jewelry mixed with our silver jewelry.
DC: How do you feel your jewelry speaks to women of different ages not to mention different body types and tastes?
HA: I would describe my collection as classical but with a fashion-forward edge to it. I wanted to design something that appeals to all types of women because you can create your own look. There are lots of elements in the collection. Somebody who’s very fashion forward could put together very edgy pieces. Then a classical woman could pick the pieces that are not so edgy. We all have our own look and we’re all unique in the ways we put ourselves together. I find that every age group seems to find something in the collection that appeals to them.
As for body type, I believe in elongating our silhouette. A lot of the shapes that I design give you a more elongated look. I think it works for all body types. For example, all our pendants are made where you can wear them at different lengths. We wear different necklines. Every day when I get dressed, I want to be able to be flexible in the pieces that I wear. So we’ve made every pendant, there are enhancers and you can change your neckline depending on what outfit you’re wearing. The whole collection is about being very versatile.
DC: What are some things aspiring jewelry designers should be aware of?
HA: You have to work in every element of the business. I started out in the retail end of the business. You have to know what consumers are looking for. You have to have a plan and a philosophy to what you’re designing. For me, it was really about empowering women to make their choices easier. If you understand the end consumer who’s buying your jewelry, then it’s easier to design for those people.
You have to really study your market and who you’re designing for. Really know every aspect of the business from the ground up.
DC: It used to be that every young woman needed a strand of pearls or a pair of gold hoop earrings. What do you think are the must-have items today?
HA: I think the statement ring has become a real staple in every wardrobe because it’s something that can take your outfit from very simple to interesting.
DC: What do you think are the hot jewelry looks for spring and summer 2013?
HA: Bold pieces. The statement ring has to be one of our best selling items. People are now wearing their rings more on the middle finger, their index finger. It’s not all about the ring finger. Right now I think bold pieces are the trend and layering. The idea of wearing a short pendant and then long chains around it. I think that’s an awesome look because it does give us a taller silhouette. Other must haves—bold earrings, a pair of nice hoops, shoulder dusters.
DC: What are some of your pieces you think will most appeal to women in their 20s and 30s?
HA: Color is huge in our rings. We have an aqua mist stone inspired by the ocean. To throw a statement ring like that on your hand, you change the whole look. I call it my happy stone. It reminds you of the beach and the ocean.
Also, we do a lot of stackable rings and stackable bangles. We just did a whole collection called cocktail stacks—there are stackable bangles and stackable rings with color gemstones and we’ve named them all after different cocktails. It’s all about being lighthearted, having fun with your jewelry, and living life.
DC: How has being in the jewelry business impacted you as a career woman, wife and mother?
HA: Being in the jewelry business gives me the ability to travel. I go to Thailand. I’m in Hong Kong. I go to Turkey. The traveling has really opened my eyes to different cultures, different worlds. That has really shaped who I am as a woman. It’s really opened my mind up to the rest of the world. I think that reflects in my collections.