Nigora Tokhtabayeva, the Founder and CEO of Tabayer, puts sustainability at the forefront of the celebrity favorite fine jewelry brand. As a mother of five, Nigora’s mission is to improve the state of the planet, little by little, for her children and their children.
Family has always been an important source of inspiration for the founder. “My father was an architect and my mother was a fashion designer. They gave me a strong work ethic and a powerful sense of the importance of design,” she exclusively tells Only Natural Diamonds. She continued, “My beloved grandmother has also been a big influence on me. Her love of jewelry was completely contagious. I spent my formative years in her company, which instilled in me my own obsession and appreciation for the spiritual and protective power of jewelry, specifically amulets.”
Ahead, get to know Nigora as she discusses Tabayer’s signature collection, her love of natural diamonds, and what sustainability means to her.
Only Natural Diamonds: What is your first memory of a diamond?
Nigora Tokhtabayeva: I grew up in Central Asia where diamonds have always been considered a great luxury. It was rare to find jewelry stores that carried diamonds. Every time I had the opportunity to see beautiful pieces with diamonds, I was delighted. My grandmother gave me a fish pendant and a diamond fisheye for my 12th birthday. I will never forget my admiration for this pendant and my first diamond. A diamond is also my birthstone.
OND: What types of inspiration do you draw from to create your pieces?
NT: I have always been, and continue to be, inspired by my friends and it is they who inspired me to create a new amulet; a symbol of protection that wasn’t linked to one specific culture or religion but one that reflected our diverse friendship group. The result became the Oera collection that can be worn by anyone. Art has always been an inspiration to me as well, in particular, American modernist sculpture. In Miami, where I’m based, the Bayfront Park designed by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi and his Slide Mantra sculpture were an early influence.
OND: What story do you want to tell through your designs?
NT: Amulets were always part of my family tradition. I have always been interested in them and the history of metaphysical protection, its connection to our culture and its role in shaping the very origins of jewelry. I wish for all women to feel protected, empowered, and have the agency to achieve what they want to achieve. We design jewelry that provides a sense of safety and confidence to its wearer—think of it as a private repository of strength.
OND: Why do you choose to use natural diamonds?
NT: For us, the decision to choose natural diamonds was based on the use of natural materials that are known to hold their value over time. We source our diamonds from premier global Sightholders—members of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC)—with long-standing and direct access to diamond mines. All the diamonds we source are compliant with the Kimberley Process.
OND: What does sustainability mean to you, in the jewelry (and diamond) space especially? Tell me a bit more about how sustainability is a driving force of Tabayer.
NT: As a mother of five with real concern for the planet my children and their children will inherit, I wanted to do business the right way. That not only means making jewelry that is beautiful and empowering but also that improves the lives of people along our supply chains and protects the planet for future generations. Sustainability is integral to how I envision the collection—the principles are inseparable from the pieces.
In addition to only sourcing diamonds from the members of the RJC, we’ve taken a rare step to only use Fairmined certified gold. Fairmined is an assurance label initiative by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). ARM was founded in 2004 with the aim of transforming artisanal and small-scale mining into a socially and environmentally responsible activity that improves the quality of life of artisanal miners and their environment.
We are a small company and recognize sustainability is a journey. Our collection is a first step, and we intend to take others as a business as we grow to reflect the importance we place on issues such as the environment.