Interview with Nikoloz Nakopia, Director of Zarapxana
The history of jewellery dates back to ancient times. It can be said that jewellery is the best reflection of the culture of any given nation or society. In Georgia, goldsmiths, as a distinct branch of artisans, have been creating jewellery since the very start of the country’s history.
The history of Zarapxana dates back to 1939, when enthusiastic goldsmiths opened what was then known as ‘Tbilisi Jewellery Factory’, on Leselidze Street. For over 80 years now, with a continuous cycle of production, Zarapxana has been at the forefront of preserving Georgian traditions. Over many years the company has received various awards. The latest victory the brand is proud of is the award it received for its contribution to promoting the best jewellery traditions at the annual Georgian Times Business Awards. Zarapxana has been a leading participant in this competition for many years.
The most important thing for a company is that it cares about quality, which starts with the production process: Each item goes through strict quality control. Zarapxana Factory covers all of the stages of production: from gold smelting and bottling, to enamel and final treatment processes. It is also worth noting that Zarapxana only uses high grade natural stones.
Nikoloz Nakopia, the company’s Director, talks here about the success story of the Georgian brand and its plans for the future:
Q. Zarapxana has always been prominent in the marketplace, constantly evolving. What drives the brand’s success?
A. The key to what we strive for is quality and Georgian jewellery traditions. All our products, be they jewellery or souvenirs, are made in Georgia. The high quality, price-to-quality ratio, as well as the revival of Georgian jewellery’s history, is what makes Zarapxana a successful company.
Q. The company has presented various collections over time. Which have been some of the most prominent?
A. Zarapxana presents both jewellery and souvenirs. We have 18 collections and different directions of our series. In terms of these, 2019 was a particularly special year for us: 4 new Classic and contemporary style collections were launched in line with market demand. These collections are designed for modern women who know exactly what they need and are focused on development. Georgian folk are versatile, some like modern, simple geometric figures, whilst others prefer historical collections. The ‘King Tamar’, ‘Vepkhistkaosani’ (The Knight in the Panther’s Skin) and ‘Mtskheta’ collections deserve a special mention. The Tamar collection expresses the greatness of the era. The Vepkhistkaosani collection is connected with the heroes of the renowned poem. Meanwhile, the Mtskheta collection is based on the motifs of jewels kept at the national Archaeological Museum.
Q. How do you choose which collections to start working on and which you will be offering to customers?
A. Beyond Zarapxana’s distinctive merchandise there lies the interesting history of jewellery-making. For example, the ‘Ekaterine Chavchavadze’ collection is based on a love story. The collection conveys not only the perfection of the jewellery, but also the idea of a leading female figure in the modern world, with distinctive strength, charm, independence, and an active public role. The inspiration for the collections lies also in Georgian history, Georgian ornaments and art. Ancient Georgian artefacts found in archaeological excavations inspire certain collections, such as the Mtskheta collection and the Colchian legend. Thus each jewellery product must have a story. So we gather stories and provide them according to market demand. We try to find stories which are not very well known and popularize them by reviving history and adapting it to modern everyday life. Our jewellery bears historical cognitive and cheerful functions.
Q. When talking about such merchandise, it is important to acknowledge the people who make them. What would you tell us about these individuals?
Q. Zarapxana employs about 120 people, including many veteran workers with over 40 years of experience. Our company includes all the components of jewellery and its production. It is that which makes our factory unique. Although the factory is equipped with modern machines, we do not forget about the old traditions and craftsmanship that used to go into the process, therefore all of them are made by hand. Only the best goldsmiths in Georgia are employed by us. Quality is of the utmost importance. This team of professionals works tirelessly to create an exclusive and affordable product whilst at the same time adhering to the traditions.
Q. Serial production is an important direction of yours. How do you make this category of jewellery?
A. Zarapxana’s serial jewellery includes diamonds, pearls and ornaments, precious stones, crosses, and initials. The creation of jewellery begins with the creative service. It is the designers of this service who create the look of the jewellery. Following the sketch of a design, the jeweller revives the creative idea, and the product eventually runs into serial production. After the production process is completed, the merchandise then goes to stores and consumers.
Q. How many stores do you have and what plans do you have for expansion?
A. At this point Zarapxana is represented by 5 brand stores. There are 4 shops in Tbilisi and 1 in Batumi. The stores feature both jewellery and souvenirs. At this point, management is considering adding some new stores as well as updating the existing ones.
Q. What are the company’s development plans?
A. In the future, Zarapxana plans to establish new collections and a place for itself on the international market. Next year we will be working on online sales, which will help popularize the Georgian jewellery company worldwide.
Q. Evaluate the business environment in the country. What are the current challenges facing the country’s businesses and economy?
A. In general, the jewellery business is quite specific, and in any country in the world this business is unique. The biggest challenge for us is to create an acceptable price for the customer. The final price is significantly influenced by the price of gold on the world market and the exchange rate of the GEL. Given all of this, countries with low purchasing power make it difficult to sell expensive merchandise. Zarapxana is a wholly Georgian-owned jewellery brand. Each item is made in Georgia and by hand. We do our best to promote economic growth, productivity and the creation of work places.
Q. What are the specific challenges you face and how do you respond to them?
A. The past year has been marked by a multiplicity of collections and the activation of the corporate direction. We have increased our production and created new, exciting collections. We have had great achievements in the corporate field. Many new companies have become our customers. Special designs were made for our partner companies. There is a general demand for existing souvenirs as well, especially during the pre-holiday period. Souvenirs purchased from us are gifted to our partners and employees.
In terms of the corporate orders of 2019, I want to highlight in particular the gold chess pawns made in partnership with IGroup, wherein the trophy was handcrafted by Z arapxana. First ever European chess award ceremony, the Golden Pawn was held in Monaco on November 30th 2019. Gary Kasparov, Judith Polgar and other famous chess players handed out the awards. Georgians Maia Chiburdanidze and Nona Gaprindashvili were among the chess players awarded. 2 pawns were therefore brought back to Georgia by our chess players. Our contribution to such important events is a special motivation for all Zarapxana associates. In the future, we will be offering further interesting projects to our customers.
And finally, most importantly we have an increasing sales trend every year – our production and product range continue to grow.