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Issue 61 / Q&A With Luxury Jewelry Designer Nitya Chandra

Q&A With Luxury Jewelry Designer Nitya Chandra

Aug 31, 2016

 

Nitya Chandra Jewelry is a collection inspired by a world of cultures and the belief that style is an effortless extension of one’s self.  


Nitya Chandra
Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/nityachandrajewelry

 

I'm a self-professed style junkie and jewelry lover, so you can imagine my excitement when I came across Nitya Chandra, a luxury jewelry designer based in the United States. Nitya prides herself on producing contemporary silhouettes using age-old techniques and design concepts. Her pieces are timeless yet modern, wearable pieces of fine art, and the best part is you can pair her jewelry with both Eastern and Western clothing — bonus!   


Earrings
Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group


Nitya's collection launched in 2004, and her pieces are handcrafted in Los Angeles, California. Her love of jewelry began when she was a young ex-pat in Sri Lanka, where she mastered the art of filigree-embossed plates from a local silversmith. Taking this skill, she channelled her newfound passion into a budding career in New York City.
 


Luxury Jewelry Designer Nitya Chandra
Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group

 

Nitya Chandra designs have not gone unnoticed. She's since been featured in Harper's Bazaar, Ebony, Who What Where and Elucid Magazine, to name just a few publications.

I had the lovely opportunity to interview the designer and find out what drives her and who her inspirations have been — and entice her to explain her mission: sharing her belief that style is "an effortless extension of one’s self."


Monika Bhondy: It’s been said that your love for jewelry started when you stayed in Sri Lanka as an ex-pat. How old were you then?

Nitya Chandra: I was a teenager living away from the States for the first time.  

MB: The valuable skill you learned abroad of creating filigree artwork from a local silversmith is a strong theme in your collection of statement jewelry today. What was that experience like for you, and how has it changed you — if at all? 

NC: I learned about filigree on a school trip to the northern countryside of Sri Lanka. That day, I learned to emboss plates. I spent hours speaking with the silversmith and learning about his life while we engraved on plates of silver. I felt as though each time he pressed on the silver plate, he passed onto the plate his strength, wisdom and love. I hold this dear to my heart and will never forget this man, his journey and his story. It’s helped make me who I am today.

MB: How did you get into the luxury accessory market?

NC: I have been in the fashion industry since 2005, working in the ready-to-wear and accessories arena, and learning to wear many hats along the way. I have worked with and for brands such as Michael Kors, Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Guess, Bebe, Limited Group and other licensing companies like Sun Capital and Kellwood Brands. I was also the head of design and product development at Vivre, which was a luxury catalogue and online retailer with private-label subdivisions, and worked under the umbrella of Christofle. We bridged the gap between European, Asian and American luxury goods. This helped develop my dream to start my own luxury jewelry business and embark on my new journey two years ago. 
 


Luxury Jewelry Designer Nitya Chandra
Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group

 
MB: What were your challenges?

NC: It's always hard to be a new kid on the block, so finding my place in the industry was a challenge. Through it all, I have to have thick skin and evolve alongside the industry. 

MB: Who have been your greatest mentors that have helped you make a successful career in New York City?

NC: At Vivre, I worked and trained under the visionary and founder. She became a mentor and inspiration in my life as a whole. I feel grateful to have had the experience. I also worked with a team that helped build each other, and they taught me to feel confident in my artistic expressions, whatever they may be.  I learned so much about myself and my design aesthetic there.  

MB: What and who continue to inspire you today?

NC: Iris Apfel is a huge inspiration in my life and career. She stayed true to her design and aesthetic yet has always managed to bring a breath of fresh air in a realm of new designers. She knows how to evolve with the industry and its demographic. She inspires me to always have faith in what I do.  

MB: At what moment did you feel that you had “made it”?

NC: I don’t know if I can say “I’ve made it,” as life isn't about reaching plateaus but rather to keep climbing and enjoying the experiences along the way.  

MB: If you were able to style any celebrity, who would it be and why?

NC: I would love to style Mindy Kaling. I just find her to be a strong representation of our generation of women today. Especially being an Indian American woman myself, she represents a path we all share.

MB: Your company’s mission is to “share the belief that style is an effortless extension of one’s self.” What does that mean to you?

NC: Our generation relies on style to express our inner selves. Our mission is to make this expression effortless. Our personalities change and grow; however, we stay true to who we are inside. So our style should do the same. It should express the beauty of who we are and how we feel in the moment yet always have glimpses of the elements of our “inner self,” which are timeless. So we try and offer pieces that push the envelope yet stay classic.  


Natya Chandra Jewelry
Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group


MB: How would you describe your style?

NC: My personal style is classic with layering pieces that architecturally push the envelope. I love pairing a classic dress in a neutral colour with a very interesting leather jacket or a uniquely shaped bag. I always try to wear a statement ring. 

MB: Which is your favourite piece of the collection?

NC: It's hard to pick a favourite, but right now I have been obsessed with layering a few of my Curve rings. They're so versatile, and I can wear two to three in mixed tones all at once.  
 


Nitya Chandra Jewelry
Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group


MB: In your opinion, what are key luxe jewelry pieces one should invest in to complement their upcoming fall wardrobes?

NC: I like to invest in accessories. To me, they are wearable art. I find they transcend through seasons and years and are great heirloom pieces. I believe in investing in a great necklace or bracelet. I find that apparel is ever-changing, but jewelry and accessories (should) last forever. 

MB: What is your go-to statement piece?

NC: I love to talk with my hands, so I love a strong statement ring. My favourite is our gold classic fan ring with black spinel
stones.  


Rhodium Filigree Ring with Swarovski Crystals 
Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/nityachandrajewelry

MB: What can consumers expect from Nitya Chandra in the future? 

NC: I'm working on more designs that are layerable. So you can wear one necklace if you're feeling minimalistic or five if you want to make a statement.

Main Image Photo Credit: SUCCARRA Media Group.
 

 

Monika Bhondy

Monika Bhondy

Author

Monika is one of the original members of the ANOKHI dream team and a true jack of all trades. She currently holds the title of Style Editor and is a self-professed style junkie, constantly analyzing the trends from the world's runways to the best buys on the street. She recognizes what is h...

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