The personal luxury goods category in a luxury study, regarded as the “core of the core” of luxury had sales of $50 billion in 2016 as stated in a report by Bain Luxury Study. Jewellery is a major component of the luxury goods purchases.
In 2016, De Beers stated in a report that the demand for diamond jewellery has increased globally to $80 billion in the same year.
“I’m passionate about diamonds and the art of jewelry. I struggled to find the sort of pieces that were appealing; there was a gap in the market, and I started creating my own pieces that resonated across age groups and cultures,” explained Matturi. “Jewellery design started as a hobby with a collection of costume jewelry and it evolved slowly from there. It was a great way to test some branding concepts as well as products, price points and understand the markets and consumers in-depth.”
A British and Sierra Leone national, Matturi nurtured her diamond knowledge and skills as a key account manager at De Beers for 16 years before venturing to create her own brand. Her business is by appointment only and she spends most of her time Southern Africa with a base in the UK.
“At De Beers I acquired indispensable skills, insights and experience of the jewelry and diamond industry, globally. I learnt a lot about rough and polished diamonds and travelled to several cutting centers and consumer markets to meet manufacturers and jewelry designers,” explains Matturi. “My designs relate to Africa and they are wearable anytime and anywhere. This is how I show the world about the wonderful treasures and legacies of the continent.”
Matturi’s first collection launched in 2016 with an ode to West Africa and the designs took the form of various different ceremonies, heritage, and customs from that region. The collection celebrated women (irrespective of where they are from) and enabled women to identify with the pieces and their story.
“The ‘Kola’ earrings symbolize the kola nut, which is highly regarded across West Africa and is an integral part of significant life events such as weddings and the birth of a child. It is synonymous in many West African traditional gatherings and social rituals,” she said. “I have portrayed the kola through a Rose Quartz stone and paved with diamonds. Fascinatingly, my first pair of the Kola earrings was purchased by a lady in the US who related with the Kola. This was crossing over the African culture to the US through jewellery.”
The process of creating her pieces takes six months from concept to final product. Matturi works with mainly diamonds and other precious stones. The creation process involves inspiration, research, plan, drawings, testing prototypes, CAD drawings, and ethical sourcing of stones.
“All stones used are pre-polished from reputable suppliers who undertake best sourcing practices. I conceptualize the designs and the collections, then create a computer-generated image, which I refine and fine tune. The next step is to select the stones for the product and these can range from rubies, diamonds, to pearls. Diamonds are a main feature in my pieces.”
According to Diamond Facts, in the country where Matturi currently resides, Botswana, diamonds account for 76% of the country’s export revenue, 45% of the government revenue, and 33% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Since the discovery of diamonds in Botswana in 1966, the GDP annual growth rate has averaged 7%. Botswana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, due in large part to diamonds.
“My clients are mostly self-purchasing women; both married and single women who are very successful and run their own businesses or work in senior management roles in corporates. They choose my designs as they are unique and limited, for exclusivity,” explains Matturi. “There will always be a demand for jewelry. However, we often have periods where the demand slows and jewelry is likely the first to be cut off the wish list but I feel that the new millennial/middle class shows a huge potential for growth
Standard Bank Group Securities (SBGS) based in South Africa published a 2017 report evaluating the jewelry sector and its performance from 2011 to 2016. The report estimated that the global jewelry market was worth $220billion in 2016 with a growth of 4.6% per annum in USD since 2001.
In Africa, there are certain markets that have been essential to Satta Matturi Fine Jewellery business.
“The two markets that have matured quickly in regards to buying fine jewelry from boutique brands are Nigeria and South Africa. They are receptive to alternative brands,” Matturi commented.” The UK, USA, Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola are the main target markets although our reach still needs to be stronger. We would also like to see the brand expand into Francophone Africa and East Africa, which has huge potential.”
There are often two types of new jewelry consumers; emerging middle-class and the millennials. In addition, there is an increase of new jewellery designers in Africa though there is a gap in African designers in the fine jewelry space.
“Emerging markets have consumers who drive sales for boutique jewelry businesses. They are travelled and are sophisticated. They desire to be different and are attracted to alternative emerging brands that deliver the same promise as a big name brand but in a unique and different way,” elaborated Matturi. ” I think there is a lot of potential and there are a lot of talented designers that I have met but with fine jewellery a lot is required to bring a design or concept to market and future designers in Africa need access to various valuable resources such as marketing knowledge, Public relations among other necessary aspects.”
The industry has several challenges for small business entrepreneurs, which include access to raw materials, fierce competition from global brands, access to finance and to industry knowledge.
“I hope to see a fruitful introduction of more collections that will communicate and share my brand values and aesthetics globally,” Matturi concluded. “When women wear my pieces, I want them to feel strong, feminine, and elegant.”