Padma Lakshmi is concocting a new recipe, and this one isn’t from a cookbook.
This story first appeared in the January 26, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The host of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” who is also a model and all-around gastronome, has introduced her own jewelry line stimulated by the things that surround her most frequently — cooking ingredients.
“It’s inspired by things like seeds and pods, like cardamom, lentils and cloves,” said the Indian-born Lakshmi, whose passions also include traveling, writing books and articles and producing documentaries. “I wanted jewelry that isn’t big or grand. I wanted to make something with an exotic lilt and a nod to my background.”
Called Padma, the collection consists of more than 50 styles of 10-karat and 14-karat gold jewelry, including necklaces, rings and cuffs. The line goes from day to night, including delicate arm cuffs with citrine briolettes, four-row gold cuffs with charms and dangling gold earrings reminiscent of a common kitchen sight: a fish bone. Several details echo Lakshmi’s Indian heritage, which incorporates jewelry as a symbol of beauty and wealth.
Padma ranges in retail price from $375 to $6,600 and hits Bergdorf Goodman in May.
“I’ve always loved jewelry and have collected pieces from my grandmother and aunts,” Lakshmi said. “In India, a woman’s dowry is in the form of jewelry.”
Several of the pieces, such as a the calla lily charm ring, dangle making a wind chime-like sound. Others are subtle but surprising, like a sautoir necklace with a long chain that dips low in the front and grazes the back. A handpiece with a ring attached to a chain bracelet is more comfortable than one might imagine.
“I have cooked a whole dinner with that one,” she said.
A subcollection in the line, called Nav, is based on the ancient Hindu philosophy of balancing a person’s life force, called prana or chi.
As such, she incorporated the nine essential stones that should be worn at all times to achieve this balance, including sapphires, diamonds and pearls. There are colored gemstone bangles and dainty drop earrings featuring all nine navaratna stones.
“Stones have a powerful, energetic pull,” Lakshmi said.