Argentum by Nadia Chhotani offers unique jewellery pieces for every woman who loves to wear jewellery. Like her flamboyant personality, her jewellery is antique yet striking, bold yet feminine. She loves making jewellery that becomes part of an heirloom. Nadia ensures that every single design should be a masterpiece.

Gathering inspiration from an infinite variety of stunning, colourful gemstones, she develops jewellery which frames an interesting combination of stones. Her signature style is filigree. Her all frames embellish a combination of stones, kundan, polka around delicate filigree work. Every piece of her jewellery states elegance and quality and inspires exuberance and confidence. Nadia is also credited with the revival of traditional jewellery arts of kundan and polki.

 Nadia runs an extensive setup of designer jewellery in gold, diamond, polki, silver and brass and has a retail presence in six cities. In her initial career stages, Nadia gained popularity mostly because of her interesting range of cocktail rings. She has a flair for royalty and grandeur and her collection is mostly inspired by heritage and tradition.

What inspired you to start designing jewelry?

My family has had a prominent presence in the jewellery industry since the past 70 years. Being close to my father, I use to spend most of my childhood days in his jewellery showrooms going through jewellery catalogues, drawing random pictures and designs , playing around with stones etc. The decision to become a jewellery designer came as a natural choice.  

Argentum is your family firm, how does it feel to run a family business?

N.M. Chhotani is the family firm’s name. The business was established by my late great grandfather before partition in Ahmedabad, India. Argentum was launched by myself in 2008 as a designer product line - an extension of N. M. Chhotani. Being a part of the family business is huge responsibility at times the efforts. We have to put in to live up to the family reputation and customer expectations are overwhelming. When launching Argentum, I did not have the option to start from scratch and learn from mistakes; instead we had to rise above the certain benchmark already set by the family firm. Alhamdulillah so far all efforts have paid off well. God has been very kind.

What excites you about designs/innovations in jewelry right now?

Amalgamation of design with manufacturing has become possible with new technology. The intricacy and precision that we couldn’t derive earlier in hand made pieces is now possible. We design pieces on Matrix & CAD/CAM and print 3D models and moulds directly. The metal weight can be controlled during the design process; moreover textures, filigree etc can all be incorporated in the design which comes out very accurate in 3D models.

Another exciting aspect is the Digital Media; the evolution of which has brought businesses into direct competition with their counterparts in different countries of the world. Competition is not restricted to your next door jeweller anymore. A customer looking for Bridal Jewellery in the US will be considering Pakistani, Indian and Bengali jewelers for options. Sounds exciting right? Yes we love challenges!

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

My signature style is definitely filigree. That is the first jewellery technique I learned on the bench. As a designer, all my frames embellish a combination of stones / kundan/ polka / enamel around delicate filigree work. My pieces are mostly antique looking. I enjoy making jewellery that becomes part of an heirloom. I love working on elaborate pieces. Bridal jewellery is my most favorite area of work.

Where do you most commonly derive inspiration when you sit down to design a new collection? 

Design inspirations come from architecture mostly; gem stone shapes, cuts and combinations from Mother Nature, metal finish from cultural events. I love travelling for the same reason.

What makes your handmade pieces different from what is on the market now?

The fact that they are very elaborate in terms of design yet flawless in quality.

With what materials and techniques are you experimenting now?

I am trying my hands on texture and stamp work with minimal stones.

What aspects are you most interested in exploring these days in terms of design?

Fusion. I have a huge gora fan base in the US (because of my previous work with the USAID). I want to launch a whole new product line of fusion jewellery, the essence of which is basically Pakistani along with a modern touch to it in terms of finish and polish to appeal to the western clientele.

If you weren't designing jewelry, what would you be doing? 

An educationist. I love to learn and share.

What’s been the most exciting part about building the business so far?

The fact that I was successful in positioning Argentum as an upscale extension to the family business.

Any challenges you faced in starting this business?

I wanted to stay small as a business to retain the personal touch in every Argentum piece I made. The demand grew beyond my expectation too soon and I had a tough time managing mass production somewhat of pieces I wanted to keep exclusive.

How has the use of jewelry changed today?

The niche that buys jewellery for personal fulfillment is becoming smaller by the day with escalating metal prices and security issues. People consider gold as an investment that is kept in bank vaults rather than worn and flaunted.

How do you envisage your jewellery been worn?

As pieces truly cherished and treasured. Something that mothers would want to pass down to their daughters who would want to use it for their weddings 20 years later.

How does work take place in your atelier when you design a new collection?

We launch one collection of bridal jewellery a year right before the wedding season that begins in March – April. Manufacturing and stone setting is mostly inhouse and the entire production process takes about six to eight months. Once the master pieces are made, individual pieces (that are casted on the master dye) take about 25 days to make. Cocktail rings and earrings are mostly made from mix and match of the same patterns used for the sets.

What do you think are the keys to professional and business success for women in Pakistan?

You need to have a commitment strong enough to not get discouraged by failures. Your ambition and enthusiasm should be contagious. Hard work of course is a prerequisite. I never met a single person who looked down on me being a woman in the business. There are people out there who genuinely want to support and develop women entrepreneurship in Pakistan. 

If you could have anyone in the world wear your jewellery, who would it be?

Local aspirations: Begum Nawaz Sharif. I find her taste in jewellery very classy! Internationally: I wouldn’t aspire for an individual; however I dream of showcasing at the IIJW (Indian international jewellery week) some day. India is the only country in the world that hosts jewellery dedicated fashion weeks. Indians admire Pakistani jewellery the way Pakistanis are fond of Indian jewellery. However we are far superior in gemstone quality and stone setting. I would love to compete on the basis of design and quality.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

My university wants me to write a case study on Argentum’s success.

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

From extravagant to more practical. My design sense is still evolving. I have been in the business for a short period of 6 years.

 What is your philosophy of life?

Never compromise on your values and work hard relentlessly. People notice and appreciation follows.

What’s next for your brand?

New locations, some horizontal integrations and a jewellery school.