Blogs: All That Glitters / Designers

Ita Jewelry Is a Cross-Cultural, Completely Chic Success Story


And Ita founders Inés Capó and Äfet Burcu Salargil have only been at it for five years.

Having met the Ita ladies in New York City last month, I think one of the reasons they have been able to cut through the crowded marketplace of emerging designers is that they have great communication going all the way back to when they became friends in college.

With Capó based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Salargil in Istanbul, Turkey, the ability to share ideas and work through challenges efficiently is key to the success they have achieved.

Ita founders portrait
For Ita founders Äfet Burcu Salargil and Inés Capó, friendship comes first. (photo: Alfredo Castellanos Hambleton/@fotodaddi)

“When we started the brand five years ago, we had no idea what we were doing, but we agreed that the goal was to create carefully crafted pieces that honored our heritages,” says Capó. ”We wanted each piece to have a bit of each of us and to reflect the joy and respect that comes from our friendship. We each have different backgrounds but were searching for the same thing—building something that not only fulfills us but others as well.”

In addition to superior quality—everything is made by artisans in Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar—the ladies were laser-focused on their work, carefully considering what might resonate with customers.

“We focused our efforts on slow, sustainable growth and took a very careful and methodical approach to the number of collections we churn out,” says Salargil.

They landed on a handful of hero motifs that they have since evolved and deconstructed in new and exciting ways, all while remaining faithful to the initial inspirations. In other words, the designs are focused, consistent, and cohesive—something many young designers, awash with ideas, frequently have trouble achieving.

For example, Buenos Días (pictured below, prices from $500), Ita’s first collection, is based on a mysterious petroglyph found in the mountains of central Puerto Rico; its sunrays are an allusion to the Taíno, an indigenous community native to the Caribbean that revered the sun.

Ita Buenos Dias
According to the designers, the Buenos Días collection is also a reminder to say “Buenos días” to those you love and those you respect—even strangers—as a way to brighten their days.

Keko and Kiki (prices from $425) is an ode to the coquí, a tiny frog that inhabits the islands of Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra, known for its distinctive nighttime chirping song. Keko is also Capó’s late father’s nickname.

Ita kiki coqui necklace
Capó’s uncle, Xavier, drew the original Ita coquís before they were reimagined in gold and gemstones. (Kiki necklace in 14k gold with pink sapphires, $1,550)

And Yari, which the designers say translates to “small jewel of gold,” is a modern version of the countless beads and objects that were crafted by the first inhabitants and have been found scattered across the Caribbean. The “nugget charm” pictured below reveals different images and details when you spin it around.

Ita yari nugget charm on chain
Yari Cielo nugget charm pendant in 14k gold with sapphires, diamonds and emerald, $4,250 (omega chain sold separately)

It is these strong, well-executed motifs—and quite a few others—that have simultaneously anchored Ita and propelled it forward: “Today, we’ve seen all our efforts, and most of our risks, pay off,” says Capó.

One clear metric of success, according to the ladies:

“Nearly five years ago, we were asked where we’d like Ita to be sold and we responded ‘Moda Operandi’ as one of our main goals,” says Salargil. As of this week, Ita now has a trunk show on the prestigious online retailer’s site.

But it was Reinhold, the highly regarded jeweler in San Juan, that spearheaded Ita’s five-year trajectory.

“Reinhold was our first retailer and have supported us from the very beginning—even when things felt uncertain during the COVID pandemic,” says Capó. “Marie Helene Reinhold and her team have always been huge supporters of Puerto Rican designers. The team there were great about showing us the ropes and it was, and still is, an amazing training ground for streamlining our wholesale business. One memory of the first meeting is when they decided to take a chance on our ear cuffs. Today the ear cuff category is one of our most significant categories there.”

Just last week, Reinhold hosted a five-year anniversary party in Ita’s honor:

Ita event photos
Ita anniversary event (photos: Alfredo Castellanos Hambleton/@fotodaddi)

Held at the Museo de las Américas, the theme of the festive dinner party was the “The Triumph of Friendship”; upon arrival, guests received specially designed friendship bracelets to commemorate the event. Accompanying the event was a curated jewelry exhibition highlighting key Ita collections including Keiko and Kiki and Buenos Días, among others.

As for what’s new, there’s a special anniversary capsule…

Ita Commemorative Buenos dias
The Anniversary collection expands the Buenos Días family; highlights (clockwise from top left): long earrings, $2,900; micro sun triple climber earring, $500, and cigar band, $4,950, all in 14k gold and diamonds.

And in the long term? “Bringing Ita to a wider audience and creating unique client experiences around the world are top of mind for us,” says Salargil. “We’ve always had an affinity for design beyond jewelry, and applying our knowledge to other sorts of curations, such as home decor, is on the horizon.”

That said, “Our focus will always be jewelry and continuing to create pieces that speak to the heart,” adds Capó.

And the Ita design that has mine? It’s Bahia, a stylized shell motif with a dimensional shape that’s giving art deco vibes (check it out up top).

Top: Buenos días, mi amor! (Bahia shell ring in 14k gold with diamonds, $2,550)


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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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