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Meet young jewellery designer behind Nicki Minaj Barbie necklace, Ashna Mehta

What inspired the jewellery designer’s custom piece for Nicki Minaj, and what can we expect from Ashna Mehta’s debut collection…

Ashna Metha - young jewellery designer

After developing a love and understanding for jewellery at a young age, Ashna Mehta steps into the world of creativity and entrepreneurship after taking over her mother’s jewellery brand, Payal New York.

As Ashna makes her move into the jewellery and design industry, there is an acknowledgement of changing algorithms. Keeping the exquisiteness of the brand intact, Ashna has introduced modern concepts and collaborations in correlation with trending topics and current news.

With social media channels like TikTok taking over, Ashna is finding new ways to introduce the brand to a young audience, similar to herself. Her biggest collaboration was creating a custom-made piece for Nicki Minaj inspired by Barbie. We interview this young designer on what makes her stand out, and information about her exciting debut collection.

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Can you tell us about your journey into the world of jewellery design & how you became a part of your mother’s established jewellery line, Payal New York?

I always consider my love of jewellery as a whimsical affair predicated on the beauty of diamonds. I remember being a child and people would come to our home with suitcases of diamond jewellery sets, loose stones and parcel lots, and it was so fascinating. I always understood the value of a diamond – its timeless allure – and knew I wanted to carry on my family’s legacy in some form. So, it was not a journey I embarked upon, instead, this has always been a part of my life.

Designing was a natural evolution for me since I watched my mother sketch and design every day. She made pieces for herself and for clients and she began asking me for my input. As I got older, my grandma encouraged me to wear only pieces I liked and that I wanted to keep forever, so I started designing necklaces I would like to wear for weddings and other events. This way I could personalise everything for me. Once I began doing that, it became a creative outlet. I began to embrace my own version of artistry with glimmering stones.

Launching your debut collection is a significant milestone. What inspired you to create your own collection, & how does it reflect your personal design philosophy?

I simply created pieces that I wanted to wear myself. The design philosophy is reflected in the materials I use. I only use diamonds and gold. I find the beauty reflects the simplicity and high standards of quality used in the collection. My philosophy always goes back to the importance of what I am using.

Designing a diamond-studded Barbie piece for Nicki Minaj is a remarkable achievement. Could you share the inspiration that fuelled the design?

Nicki Minaj is a legend. I wanted her Barbie necklace to be iconic and important so I used large stones totalling 60+ carats to reflect her larger-than-life personality.

Have you watched the Barbie Movie? If so, what did you think of it?

I thought it was brilliant. I thought Margot Robbie shined so much light on what it means to be a woman, and it inspired me to create custom jewellery for movies going forward. Greta Gerwig is an inspiration. Yes, it’s impressive that she was able to write and direct a film that has had so much success, but even more than that, I love that she is a woman and that her film focuses on empowering women. I try to do this with my own work and with the artisans in my studio.

Read more: The best Barbie collaborations

With your family owning the largest diamond manufacturing company in the world, how does your background & access to such resources influence your approach to jewellery design & craftsmanship?

It definitely makes it easier to have access to larger stones and sourcing materials becomes much faster because of my platform and connections in the industry. Everything is more seamless for me. I feel so grateful for this. Because of this, I’m lucky to be able to create some of the world’s rarest and most expensive pieces at such a young age.

What are some of the challenges you faced while transitioning from working under your mother’s brand to establishing your own identity within the jewellery industry?

My identity in the industry goes in tandem with my mother’s brand and my family’s company. Everything I do reflects our shared values, such as ethically sourced materials and a non-negotiable commitment to excellence. The challenge in this is making more affordable and accessible pieces for people in my age bracket, but I’d rather make a few one-of-a-kind important creations with the planet in mind.

Issues related to sustainability are critical to my process, but this becomes more complicated when you scale to a larger consumer base. I am aware of that challenge and what I produce is not for a vast market. What I create is the ultimate luxury and is made for a smaller, niche audience. This is a challenge, but also a blessing that lets me be true to my mission and values. 

Your debut collection is bound to capture attention. How do you plan to market it & connect with a diverse range of customers?

I plan to collaborate with different sports teams and brands like Nike and Puma in the UAE. The collection is sports themed and I feel it will naturally draw in super fans and people who want to associate what they are wearing with their passion for sports. I am very passionate about working with similar brands and I would absolutely love to create pieces for global campaigns like the F1 in Abu Dhabi in the future if I get the opportunity to do so. I feel my brand values and image align perfectly with this annual showpiece and it would be an honour to see my jewellery associated with it.

Collaborating with high-profile clients like Nicki Minaj must have been an exciting experience. How do you adapt your design approach when working on custom pieces for celebrities or other prominent individuals?

With everyone – without exception – I try to encapsulate their identity into a work of art.

You have a good following on Instagram – how do you like to be presented on social media & what are your social media goals?

If someone who doesn’t know me saw my social media, I’d want them to think of me as a next-gen diamond industry leader, someone who promotes humanitarian efforts. I want to be known for my creative and joyous spirit.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your brand, & how do you envision contributing to the ongoing innovation & evolution of the jewellery industry?

I envision myself becoming more involved with the industry and merging my interests with sports and music. I am already doing this, but I want to take this further.  I also want to work on innovating jewellery design and using technology to make the coloured-gemstone field more transparent, the way the diamond industry has been regulated and transformed. One way of potentially doing this is through the use of blockchain technology that would enable consumers to have a record of the stone’s provenance and how it was sourced.

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