Multi-hyphenate Nitya Arora has been dabbling in design since the young age of 15. While a career in architecture was on her wishlist she went on to pioneer one of the country’s earliest fashion jewellery brands, Valliyan. Today, Arora is the epitome of a shapeshifter, sifting through various roles encompassing styling magazine editorials as well as working intimately with a roster of homegrown labels, “After establishing my jewellery label I felt the urge to explore the various aspects of creativity. Luxury brands in India were being portrayed in a very unidimensional way, with my travels and global exposure I could offer a unique point of view catering to the Indian cultural context.”
Arora’s keen eye for design percolates into her love for natural diamond jewellery, complimenting her big personality she loves investing in pieces that are bold, and one-of-a-kind in unconventional shapes and silhouettes. Her taste for the distinctive is informed by women in her own family,
“All the ladies in my family are jewellery enthusiasts. My grandmother curated and commissioned pieces that were always off-kilter and personalized. I have vivid memories of this babu visiting our home and stringing and resetting her jewellery.”
Amalgamating the heirloom with a modern edge, Arora discusses her early influences and cherished possessions.
The Age of Influence
When asked which is her favourite city in the world, Arora is a fervent and unapologetic loyalist towards her hometown of Mumbai. And the shuttling city has inspired her sense of style through her upbringing well into adulthood. “Bombay is so fast-paced. I’ve always been a busy person even through my adolescence with internships, and classes – running from pillar to post. This has subliminally informed my style where comfort is paramount, as a culture we’re surrounded by people that are effortless and comfortable in their own skin. My dressing is versatile, flats are my best friend and I’ll always carry pieces of diamond jewelleryin my bag – possibly a statement necklace to elevate a casual outfit.”
Arora’s Colourful World of Maximalist Fashion
An infectiously optimistic person, Arora shares how her heritage has a pivotal role to play in the sartorial choices she gravitates towards, “I’m so Punjabi! My style is bright and loud, some would say flashy at times. I love shiny objects that have an inherent grandeur and opulence.”
She describes her personal style as maximalist, retro-futuristic, often inspired by vintage photographs and antiquities, her way of dressing forms the perfect means to express her mood and identity. “I’ve been a mixed medium artist which involved working with colour pencils, dry pastels and crayons. I apply the same ideology to my dressing, it’s about putting together materials, colours and textures and creating a vision. Accessorising is important and adds a third dimension, my absorbed experiences are always reflected in how I reproduce a look.”
As many modern consumers prophecise today Arora too is a firm believer in owning pieces that are crafted for the daily, “I wear mynatural diamond rings every day and layer my kirpan necklace with other statement jewellery, I don’t believe in wearing diamonds only for formal occasions, it’s all about mixing and matching, pairing a vintage watch with a diamond braceletor stacking up a stack of rings,” she shares alluding to an heirloom watch encrusted with diamonds that was a gift to her grandmother from her grandfather.
Statement & Sentiment
As an extension of her personal style and her own experimentation with jewellery, Arora has developed an intrinsic fondness for natural diamond jewellery that is bold, “I look at jewellery as art, a statement piece has design and thinking behind it and is so allusive of its wearer like the diamond necklace belonging to the Maharaja of Patiala was iconic for its enormity.” Through her own jewellery box, the creative loves mixing the old with the new, holding heirloom pieces close to her heart. She shares a special bond with her grandmother whom she grew up with and a pair of natural diamond earrings bequeathed to her now holds a permanent space on her ears, “I’ve always been close to my grandmother, growing up we shared a room, we fought, we played but truly enjoyed each other’s company. I have fond memories of her applying mehendi on my tiny palms when she was colouring her hair. She wore these diamond earrings on special occasions – a Puja or a wedding, and now that I’ve inherited them they are symbolic of childhood nostalgia.”
Arora wears these natural diamond earrings quite regularly paired with a solitaire ring that was passed down to her by her father. The emotional value of these jewellery pieces carries forward into her personal purchases that are replete with symbolism and intention. “I bought this necklace on my birthday, it was my first expensive purchase. It’s a gold Kirpan motif replete with delicate diamonds. In Sikhism, the Kipran signifies the elimination of all the negative energy from your life, a teaching that resonated with me.”
A Personal Touch
More than a decade ago Arora started her jewellery brand Valliyan after witnessing a gap in the market for high fashion jewellery, Avant Garde pieces that she herself wanted to wear, “I wanted to create something I hadn’t seen around, the taste test even today is asking myself if I’d want to wear a particular piece. Back then India was perceived as a manufacturing hub and not a design destination, and I wanted to change that. Valliyan which means ‘hoops’ in Punjabi is deeply rooted in Indian heritage and craftsmanship with an offering for the global consumer. Even when I tour the world with my pieces people are curious about the brand’s origins, which is a testament to its universal appeal,” she concludes.