Canadian jewelry designer Hera Arkarakas of the Hera Collection, based in Toronto, favors marquise shapes and affordable price points.
Jewelry designer Hera Arkarakas
Year firm launched: 2010
Signature style: “I use a lot of marquise shapes throughout my designs, and it has become our signature shape. It comes from the peacock feather; in Greek mythology, the peacock is a symbol of the goddess Hera, and my name is Hera, so I took inspiration from the peacock feather, and continued on the shape. I love that elongated marquise shape—it’s flattering to a woman’s physique—and we all want to look long and lean!”
Training and education: “My father was a master craftsman who dedicated long hours to the jewelry bench, often creating one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces. I used to spend my free time watching him as he carefully constructed each piece, sourced gemstones and pairing them with ornate settings. As a teenager I worked at the retail counter alongside my uncle and learned the business side of the industry; by age 18, I was remodeling and redesigning clients’ jewelry. I was always designing, but it was during this time that I also studied design at George Brown College in Toronto to further my craft.
“Then in the early 1980s, my late husband and I started Master Design, a manufacturing company of high-end jewelry that was responsible for developing and nurturing new brands in the Canadian jewelry industry. When he died three years ago, it was a turning point in my life; I took a year off to decide what I was going to do with rest of my life. Since I had always designed more high-end, classical jewelry, I decided to launch my own collection of jewelry that I loved to wear—pieces that were fun, spirited, not so serious, and more price accessible.
“When my husband was ill, I got a tattoo reading Live Life, and when I was thinking about the branding for this collection, that tag line stuck; jewelry puts a smile on our face, and if it’s price accessible, then you don’t have to wait for a man to buy it for you.”
Design process: “First I sketch each design, and then we use CAD to perfect each item on a computer. Once that’s done, each piece is made in the Hera workshop in Thailand. We manufacture our clasps, all of which have a special locking system, and cast most of our pieces.”
Materials of choice: “Sterling silver and 18 karat gold with gemstones including turquoise, coral, hematite, smoky topaz, white quartz, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl.”
Starting Retail Price: “Sterling pieces range from $295 to $695; sterling with 18 karat gold ranges from $595 to $1,500; and sterling with 18 karat gold and diamonds ranges from $1,595 to $2,500.”
Retailer Buy-in: Approximately $15,000.
Accounts: “Five in the U.S., including Isaac Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Cecil’s Fine Jewelry in Little Rock, Ark., and Solomons Jewelers in Plainview and Albertson, N.Y., and 20 abroad including Cupido Designs in Canada.”
Jewelry trade show exhibits: “The Couture show this year marked my U.S. debut.”