For this month’s designer spotlight, we chatted with Tej Kothari, the man behind this clean, modern, and ultra-inspiring line of jewelry. Designed for beauty, balance, and wearability, all Kothari pieces are hand-selected, custom-cut, and crafted with meticulous detail. Read on to learn more about Tej’s creative process, favorite vacation spots, and more.
Your stones are hand-selected and custom cut.
Can you tell us a little bit about the selection process? The inspiration starts when I find an interesting or beautiful stone – in fact, I’m involved in the selection of our stones every step of the way. Custom cuts happen when I have a particular design in mind that needs a certain volume, scale, or color to express my idea or mood. Most ready cuts don’t fit my needs.
How did Kothari begin?
Somewhat by coercion! My mother had a passion for jewelry and dealing antiques in the 70s. Although I ended up extending the work my mother started, I never actually expected to be in the jewelry business. While getting a degree in molecular biology, I was asked to assist my mom on a buying trip in India. While we were gone, my mom sensed I was extremely bored (and possibly irritated!) with the endeavor and asked me if I’d like to design some pieces for her to sell. I did, they sold well, and the rest is history.
Tell us a little about your creative process.
Extended periods of design solitude are when I’m at my best. I’m usually locked away in a room drawing and playing with my stone collections. Once I’ve come up with some ideas, I start working with the craftsman. They’ve been working with me for many years and understand my desire for clean lines and balance in a piece. It’s so gratifying to see something that was once rendered in a rough sketch come to life.
Kothari is a family-run operation. How do you make it work?
Just like most enterprises, it starts with hard work and dedication. However, being around family constantly can be challenging. I found it a bit difficult initially, but now I feel that it was the best decision for my family and I. Knowing that my family is there to support me has allowed me to take more risks.
When did you know you made it?
I still consider Kothari to be up-and-coming, but when clients started to actively seek out my designs, I knew I was going in the right direction.
How do you get inspired?
I am open to inspiration from any and all sources. I learned the idea from my mom who would tell me to pick out my least favorite design from sets of antique jewels and make new designs based on that piece. The exercise taught me that I needed to be able to find beauty and inspiration from anything and everything.
Favorite Northern California day trip?
Who inspires you?
People with an unexpected point of view.
Favorite vacation spot?
What’s next for Kothari?
I’m curious to find out myself!