The most important diamond in Bling Empire star Anna Shay’s jewelry collection isn’t one of her six-figure necklaces or glittering diamond watches. That title belongs to a special piece that makes Anna light up from within when speaking about it to this day—it’s the engagement ring her father gave to her mother. That down-to-earth detail is just one of the reasons why Anna became such a beloved part of Bling Empire immediately after the reality series debuted on Netflix in January 2021.
When Bling Empire premiered, viewers were invited into the over-the-top lives of the most affluent and influential Asian and Asian-Americans in Los Angeles. The spectacular estates, couture wardrobes and exclusive parties attracted viewers and helped make the show a Top 10 hit on the streaming platform, but it was the cast member’s vulnerability and grounded personalities that converted some of the show’s most critical observers into devotees. At the heart of Bling Empire is Anna, the Japanese and Russian heiress and scene-stealer with a penchant for fine caviar, spontaneous Parisian shopping trips and exceptional diamond jewelry. Soft-spoken but self-assured, Anna’s quiet confidence, generosity, and witty one-liners made her an instant fan favorite, with viewers around the world all wishing for a friend as genuine and wise as Anna.
For someone like Anna, only the best will do, but her high expectations come with loyalty and care for everything—and everyone—in her orbit. Quality is essential in all aspects of Anna’s life, and as the world and #TeamAnna eagerly await the second season of Bling Empire, Anna opens up to Only Natural Diamonds about how her mother shaped her relationship with jewelry, her love of Boucheron and the diamond pieces that have become a part of the family.
Interview with Bling Empire Star Anna Shay
When did your love for diamond jewelry begin, and which early pieces were your favorite?
Anna Shay: For as long as I can remember. My love for diamond jewelry began when I was really little. I think the favorite pieces that I’ve had over the years are the ones that have been given to me by my parents. In fact, probably all of my pieces are from my parents in one form or another.
How has your personal style and approach to jewelry evolved over the years?
AS: I believe it’s pretty consistent. More estate, classic pieces. More consistent by saying classic versus contemporary. It’s always been consistent as far as style is concerned. Consistent with an edge.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about collecting great jewelry?
AS: Buy the best quality and the jewelry will speak to you. The diamonds will speak to you.
When it comes to styling, does the jewelry determine your outfit or does your outfit determine the jewelry?
AS: I think it’s a combination. It just kind of comes together in my thought process of what to wear.
You’re known for your incredible necklaces. What is the story behind one of your favorite statement necklaces?
AS: I like to think they are all statements in their own way. This one in particular, we built upon it. This one is from Vartan’s Fine Jewelry here in Los Angeles. I built this one with Vartan, my jeweler. It started out as just a diamond necklace and then he had an emerald, I had the yellow diamond, and I had the white diamond. Little by little, we just put it together. The entire process took one- and-a-half years. And then, of course, there are several from Boucheron.
Why is it important to have a relationship with your jeweler?
AS: It’s great to buy them from a shop, especially if it means you have a relationship, somebody that will call you when a special piece comes. It becomes like a family, just like diamonds become part of your family when you buy them. It’s something that you can trust in a world that has chaotic moments.
What attracted you to the diamond jewelry from Boucheron?
AS: My family has a history with Boucheron. When I go there, I look at everything. The history of Boucheron is as magnificent as their jewels are. I adore the people who work for Boucheron now. It’s more like going home. The whole store is your Disneyland.
Which essential diamond jewelry pieces should every woman have in her collection?
AS: Diamond stud earrings, a diamond tennis bracelet. A diamond necklace of some sort. And one very special piece that means something to them. I think it’s very important.
What are your go-to diamond jewelry pieces to wear on a daily basis?
AS: Every day I wear anything. My mother always said “Wear your jewelry. I’m not buying jewelry for you so that you can put it in a safe and never wear it.” So I wear my jewelry.
Now that the world is opening back up, what is your dream diamond destination to visit?
AS: I would like to go to Siberia because I think the best diamonds are still there.
Out of all of your jewelry, which pieces mean the most to you?
AS: My parents are my heroes, so the piece that means the most is my mother’s first engagement ring from my father. I love the pieces they gave me over the years—they might be bigger stones—but the fact that he gave that to her is the most meaningful.