A fascination with the craft heritage of India led Megan Kothari to honour it through her brand Aaryah.
Although born into a family of jewellers, Megan Kothari initially didn’t want to pursue the same path as them. Instead, she chose to pursue her interest in fashion and started interning at the age of 15 in New York City. Megan earned a degree in International Trade and Fashion Marketing at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York (and graduated Magna Cum Laude) – and handled brand marketing for beauty conglomerates like L’Oreal USA and Estee Lauder. “However, after gaining invaluable experience in the beauty industry, it turned out that I did have an inclination towards designing jewellery; it became a form of self-expression for me,” recalls Megan.
Her grandfathers, both maternal and paternal, joined the diamond and jewellery trade in the early 70s – and everyone, from her brother to her grandfather, learned about the trade from working with diamonds and jewellery, day-in and day-out, points out Megan. “Each generation has passed down their knowledge to the next. Likewise, everything I’ve learnt about the industry is from doing and working directly with my craftspeople and family. The biggest thing I hope to inherit from my family is their work ethic and resilience,” she explains. “I launched Aaryah in 2016 inspired by Indian tribal jewellery; I’ve always been fascinated by the craft heritage of India and wanted to find a way to honour it through my brand.”
Megan initially focused on tribal pieces and demi-fine jewels. Now, she makes 18-karat gold jewellery and uses either gold or platinum for her new bridal line, while continuing to create demi-fine designs. “It was important to me to continue honouring Indian craft as we moved into fine jewellery. So, we partnered with a factory in Jaipur that has been vetted and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council.” Designs by Aaryah have been worn by celebrities such as Halsey and Miley Cyrus.
How do you marry your Indian roots into a design aesthetic shaped by Western sensibilities?
We have a lot of Indian American and South Asian clients, and love creating custom designs that stay true to traditional Indian jewellery pieces, while still providing our own take on them. Most recently, we transformed a client’s emerald ring (worn for religious significance) into a cocktail ring! The ring was a gift from her father, and the client wanted to retain the sentimental aspect of the ring, yet give it a new life.
What made you create the Nameplate jewellery with a focus on Indian languages?
We launched the name necklaces with a focus on Indian names in late 2016. The real inspiration behind the piece is my own name Megan. Megan is not a traditional Indian name, but it derives from ‘Meghna,’ a name my parents originally wanted for me. For my parents, assimilation was a key factor in their decision to spell Megan the way they did. Growing up, every time we’d go to a convenience store or stop at a gas station, I’d always find a souvenir with my name on it; whether it was a bumper sticker, a pin or a bracelet. Thus came the inspiration for our custom-made ‘name’ pieces. We started hand cutting the Name Plate Necklaces to celebrate everyone’s story. So far, we’ve made necklaces in English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and more. We custom make each nameplate in New York’s diamond district.
Your latest collection comprising bridal rings have some unconventional styles. Tell us more.
We officially launched the bridal line this past Spring, after working on the collection for over six months. We’ve named our collections of engagement rings and wedding bands by what the pieces remind us of aesthetically. The designs are minimalist, making the diamond the forefront of the ring and offer a mix of traditional and classic styles, including solitaire settings and eternity rings. We also have some eccentric takes like a hammered wave band that plays with an organic shape or using a suspension setting in our Trikona ring to engage with negative space. We only use natural gemstones and diamonds in our pieces.