Pyar by Nazneen Aziz: This sustainably-minded, Singaporean jewellery line's heart belongs in Bali
It's not surprising that Bali was one of the world's 20 most visited cities in 2018, according to Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index for that year. The Indonesian island paradise has become synonymous with restorative retreats and honeymoons, and is also famed for the skill of its local jewellery artisans. In 2014, designer and former creative director of Matter Prints Nazneen Aziz created her jewellery line, Pyar, from these core values of love, wellness and craft. Made with ethically-sourced materials by small-scale Balinese workshops, Pyar's transformable jewels are lovely little reminders of the changeability of the world around us. We spoke to Aziz about the birth of Pyar — derived from the Sanskrit for 'love', in case you were wondering — unconventional materials, and what love's got to do with it.
What were your earliest memories of jewellery?
My mother collected a mix of ethnic, modern-classic and ‘70s style jewellery, which she would let me and my sisters wear on special occasions. It’s funny how despite having all these pieces, she would only wear a simple heart locket — that my dad gifted her while they were vacationing in Rome — on a daily basis.
Describe your career path thus far.
I studied design communication at Lasalle College of the Arts, and then spent a number of years working for creative agencies. I also taught on the fashion programme at my alma mater. My approach to design was constantly evolving through these experiences, leading me to create my own jewellery line, Pyar.
How did you get Pyar off the ground?
In 2014, during one of many inspiring and recharging trips to Bali, I signed up for a silversmithing class. It was held in a traditional Balinese house in Ubud, and I made my first swivel ring — that started me on my path to Pyar. Pyar is a combination of all the things I love: drawing, designing, photography, travel, joining forces with makers to realise an idea, and telling a love story in the form of jewellery.
How did your signature transformable pieces come into being?
Every piece has a story, and at Pyar, those are stories of well-being and love. The heart swivel ring and necklace that launched Pyar were inspired by the evolving states of love. Movement is the key design feature; the pieces are interactive, sitting flat and only coming to life when they’re held up — it’s a reminder to keep the energy flowing. It took a few iterations to nail the right proportions and feel. Every detail was carefully considered, and our samples were worn/test-driven for a good few weeks before they made it into the collection.
What other media besides silver could you see being incorporated into Pyar’s work?
In our existing collection, we have the Zodiac charm and bangle set, which is made out of recycled brass, and the Paradise Palm Bangle which, as its name suggests, is woven with palm leaves. We’ve also collaborated with Singaporean natural dye artist Project Coal on our Mismatched earrings, featuring naturally-dyed silk threads. We’re looking to expand into semi-precious stones and resin in the future. It’s important that we partner with small-scale ethical jewellery manufacturers, who are better-equipped to supply certifiable recycled silver and brass and to offer handmade and casting capabilities.
What book should everyone read before they die?
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.
What film should everyone see before they die?
Contact, the 1997 movie about a scientist (played by Jodie Foster) chosen to make first contact with extraterrestrial life, and her struggle to scientifically prove her experience without having any faith.
What song should everyone listen to before they die?
Everybody Loves the Sunshine by Roy Ayers, and every remix thereof.
What cultural landmark or artwork should everyone experience before they die?
The Taj Mahal, a romantic & grand display of love.
What outrages you in this world?
What gives you hope in this world?
That enough people are appreciating the adorable, intelligent, emotionally-evolved Fab Five from Netflix's Queer Eye! The world is definitely more receptive to the ideology of self-love than it was five years ago, when we posted the message "We spend our lives looking for love, only to find it's been inside us all along…" on Pyar's first Instagram post.
What in your jewellery box sparks the most joy?
My Pyar hoops and Zodiac bangle, I can’t travel without them.
Describe the perfect day.
Sipping on a coconut under breezy blue skies, listening to the sound of waves crashing, and then riding on the back of a motorbike along a quiet road with golden views of rice paddies and palm trees.
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