Unparalleled in its vibrancy and opulence - emerald, ruby and sapphire-colored embroidered silk saris paired with equally extravagant gems, the clinking of pure gold bangles stacked from wrists to elbows mingling with the sounds of sitar music - India gave birth to the idea that jewels are de rigueur for every woman on every occasion. Jewelry designer Samir Bhansali, who was born in Mumbai, ushers this concept into contemporary life while paying homage to his rich heritage. "La Reina," an assemblage of Art Deco elements fashioned from La Reina's trademark enormous-but-light, laser-cut diamonds, mixes ancient techniques with innovation. The result is simply sui generis.
Bhansali has lived in Los Angeles, where La Reina is headquartered, for the past 27 years. Yet every piece of jewelry is made in India, where gems and metals are highly prized not only for the inherent beauty and value but for their mystical and healing properties as well. This is why wearing a La Reina piece can feel magical.
Attention to detail is the hallmark of La Reina's innovative, award-winning work. Pieces have no backside; they are fashioned so that they are stunning from every angle. The "Yellow Passion Flower" bracelet from the Art du Jour collection won Town & Country magazine's honors for Best Design in 2007. La Reina's latest collection, Evoluzione, spotlights the "Mughal Flower" brooch - a two-carat fancy yellow diamond, surrounded by smaller pink and yellow diamonds, blooming amid deep purple petals formed from oxidized titanium. The kaleidoscope effect of the titanium casts ever-changing metallic hues - scarlet, magenta, cerulean, indigo.
With his newest titanium line available through Neiman Marcus, La Reina is now poised to join the ranks of other instantly identifiable designers. "You cannot wear big stones every day," Bhansali says. "But if you wear artistic pieces, it's different. Artistic pieces work as well during the day as they do in the evening." Day to night, east to west - La Reina bridges generations and cultures with his dazzling designs.