A Parsons School of Design graduate, Nitya Arora has bejewelled a whole bunch of celebrities, from Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj to Deepika Padukone closer home. The multiple award-winning jewellery designer talks to us about how AI is poised to bring about changes in the jewellery business.
ELLE: How has the pandemic impacted you? What have been your introspections, self-revelations and discoveries?
Nitya Arora: It’s so true that the tougher the challenge, the greater the gratification. I was also going through a break-up which was challenging because there were no distractions from the outside world. I had never spent so much time on self-care. I don’t think I’ve felt more like myself than I do now, and that’s the greatest reward. It made me trust myself more than ever. I’m smarter, wiser, stronger, happier, more confident and independent. I feel reborn!
ELLE: What has the crisis shown us as a community?
NA: It has shown us that what we imagined to be surreal is our reality now; that nature wins, it will always win and it has put us in our place. We need to respect and value life and resources, and stop taking things for granted.
ELLE: What are the new challenges in your field?
NA: To bring people back to brick-and-mortar stores is going to be a challenge. We also need to transition from mass production and consumption to producing and buying better, long-lasting products. Those with substance, conscience and a human story. We need to ask ourselves, does the company have a conscience? Are they giving back in any way?
ELLE: How will the jewellery industry evolve to accommodate the new environment?
NA: Digital and brick-and-mortar stores will merge and become interdependent – maybe you can browse online, and place the order, and pick it up from a store close to you. The industry is also adapting AI technology; you can see how the jewellery pieces will look on you on their website itself, without having to visit the stores. It’s easier for us to go digital as sizing is not much of a hassle.
ELLE: How are you #ImaginingTheWorldToBe post COVID-19?
NA: I imagine people will live in a more meaningful manner instead of just surviving on a day-to-day basis. They will spend their time more mindfully and intimately. There will also be more celebration, music and dance to uplift spirits.
ELLE: What does ‘thoughtful fashion’ mean to you? Are Indian designers and consumers ready to make the shift towards conscious living?
NA: The shift will happen when we can achieve a balance between well-made and well-priced. I also believe that reform is needed at the level of governance; they need to clamp harder on irresponsible manufacturing and production. Stricter environmental laws are also needed.
ELLE: Valliyan is an experimental mash-up of global and the local influences. How do you see the brand evolving?
NA: Valliyan has always been a very evolved brand and ahead of its times; epitomising Indian design with a global point of view. It has a cross-cultural aesthetic with a soul, vibrant spirit and point of view–each piece is a work of art and an expression of my personality, something the wearer responds to and interprets in their own way.
Photograph: Anirudh Agrawal; Hair & Make-Up: Sonam Chandna Sagar