There's a lot of spectacular scenery to see today as we drive along the Mambilla Plateau in Nigeria, Africa. There are cattle ranches, incredible fauna, and flora including luscious hills of rich-colored grass, and some of the highest mountains in Nigeria.
We venture down the shoreline to the astonishingly clear, blue waters of the Azumini River where the river flows into rapids. Africa is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Chris Aire.
According to some public opinion, Aire is considered a bling-bling type of designer but I find that idea misleading.
To me bling-bling suggests flash for the sake of flash with no real context and Aire is anything but.
Aire is more a kindred spirit to Harry Winston; a contemporary connoisseur of diamonds. Nicknamed The Iceman, for 18 years Aire has designed classic and sophisticated diamond jewelry reminiscent of Cartier, and Tiffany & Co.
Once homeless with only a few hundred dollars in his bank account, Aire is considered by many in the industry as one of the most progressive and innovative of designers.
Before venturing into jewelry design Aire did some acting. "Acting and designing are really all the same art form . They express that which is embedded in your subconscious. I am very glad I settled on the one that most expresses who I am ."
Aire began his jewelry career designing bridal jewelry for reputable manufacturers and distributors; noticing the absence of product for a more urban demographic, he presented sketches to executives in hopes to broaden their clientele. The higher-ups, however, dutifully rejected his ideas, but Aire was not discouraged.
His masculine yet understated diamond dog tag necklace was worn by Will Smith in the film Bad Boys 2, while his diamond cross pendant was worn by Denzel Washington in the film Training Day. Aire's eclectic clientele include Teri Hatcher, Clint Eastwood, Adrien Brody, Angelina Jolie, and Halle Berry.
Aire's collections for both men and women include watches, engagement rings, wedding bands, and even diamond couture. In 2006 Aire was the first jewelry designer to hold a "jewelry fashion show" during New York's Fashion Week.
The show featured an elaborate, diamond-encrusted bikini, and dress (reportedly worth $20 million). He also designs pieces in 18-karat yellow gold, platinum, sterling silver, and his signature Red Gold®, which he derives by placing yellow gold in rosy, red clay casts. Aire says he created the unique Red Gold® metal to complement various skin tones.
In addition to his success, Aire is solidly conscientious choosing to purchase diamonds from legitimate, conflict-free suppliers.
"It is important that people understand that not all diamonds are conflict diamonds. We have always prided ourselves in using conflict free diamonds."
Photo 1 (top right): Devine Red Gold® and Diamond Halter
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Red Gold® Cuff Bracelet