Palmonas is tapping the demi-fine trend with steel and silver jewellery
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but what if you don’t want to splash out? More and more women are choosing to take the demi-fine route, buying pieces that bridge the gap between cheap costume jewellery and expensive fine ornaments.
After all, what’s good enough for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex who once had access to the UK’s crown jewels, is more than good enough for the rest of us!
Enter Pune-based demi-fine jewellery startup, which offers a range of contemporary options for daily wear and occasion wear. Made with a solid core of sterling silver or stainless steel and a thick layer of 18k gold vermeil, the jewellery promises the “perfect mix of design, quality, and luxury”.
The brand offers a range of jewellery options, including necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, and mangalsutras, priced between Rs 800 and Rs 5,500 and sold with a one-year warranty.
The idea of the demi-fine jewellery startup was conceived over coffee.
Dr Amol Patwari, an orthopaedic surgeon, was chatting with his wife, Pallavi Mohadikar Patwari, after surgery and speaking about the surgical implants and instruments that he routinely used in the OT since 2012.
“ I happened to tell her that they were ship-shape since last decade. And she blurted out, ‘Wow! can we not create jewellery out of that material?’ And that’s how Palmonas was born,” Amol tells YourStory.
The name Palmonas is a combination of alphabets from the names of Amol, Pallavi, and Anaya (the founder, his wife, and their daughter).
Starting with an initial investment of half a million dollars, Palmonas got its first batch of 30 designs made and launched them on its D2C website on March 8, 2022. They were “all sold out in 48 hours”.
“That’s when we ramped up production. We are now growing 150% month on month, and aiming to close the year at revenue Rs 30 crore,” Amol says.
Palmonas has 500 SKUs on its website presently and launches as many as 150 SKUs every month. The average order value is Rs 2,500 and the majority of its customers are from metro cities.
“Our last launches – gold-plated mangalsutras and rakhis – were much appreciated by customers, influencers, and celebrities,” Amol says.
The items are manufactured at a factory in Jaipur. The startup has a team of 21 people and is working with 27 karigars to create designs in stainless steel, sterling silver, and gold vermeil.
The startup has an offline store in Pune’s Koregaon Park and plans to open 20 franchised stores in this financial year.
Amol and Pallavi had earlier launched the online saree brand Karagiri, which was acquired by brand aggregator unicorn Mensa Brands in August 2021. After sarees, they decided to turn to another wardrobe staple: jewellery.
Amol says the USP of the D2C brand is demi-fine jewellery.
Demi-fine - a category popularised first by luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter - is the term used to describe jewellery crafted using precious metals and techniques such as vermeil plating (a thick plating of gold on top of a solid base). It stands apart from fast-fashion costume jewellery, which is made with an unspecified mix of metals, flash plated with a thin layer of gold or silver, and is prone to discolouration.
“Palmonas sits between pure gold jewellery, which is expensive, and imitation jewellery, which tarnishes after a few uses,” the founder says. “The designs are international and prices are pocket-friendly. We want our customers to wear our jewellery every day.”
Palmonas has built the aesthetics of the brand keeping in mind global tastes and choices. It launched international operations last week and has shipped 200 orders to the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, and the UAE.
“Premium quality, international minimalistic designs, and quick service are the three pillars of our brand,” Amol says.
The competition and way ahead
According to market research by Fortune Business Insights, the global jewellery market size is expected to showcase considerable growth and reach $266.53 billion, with a CAGR of 3.7% between 2020 and 2027.
And while the jewellery market declined 18% from 2019-2020, Euromonitor states that global demi-fine brands like Missoma, Catbird, Monica Vinader, and Maria Black have seen double-digit growth.
Amol says its biggest competitors are fine jewellery players like Caratlane, Shaya, and Bluestone, and sterling silver jewellery brands like Giva. ‘Our point of differentiation is we use a variety of base metals, not limiting the scope of jewellery. Also, our jewellery comes with a one-year warranty.”
On the occasion of Independence Day, Palmonas launched an 18K gold-plated Indian lapel flag pin and “got a great response”. “Even Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wears our flag pin,” Amol says.
Amol believes that the demi-fine jewellery category is still in the nascent stage in India and has huge potential. Palmonas, which claims first mover advantage, was shipping 10,000 orders a month within five months of launch.
“We have shipped around 32,000 orders till now,” Amol says. He adds that the return rate for Palmonas jewellery is less than 1% and the repeat purchase rate is 40%.
Amol says that keeping up with trends is a big challenge. “One has to be on their toes and thinking ahead of time to launch the right product at the right time,” he says.
Palmonas’ next growth plan is “aggressive international expansion”. “We have launched a dedicated international store to create a personalised experience for our global clientele,” Amol says.
“Pallavi is mentoring us in this journey. We don’t have any exit strategy planned for Palmonas but we want to create a Rs 1,000 crore brand in the next three years,” he adds.
(The story was updated to add an image)