Sparkle and Shine
A Q&A with Leslie Kumar, founder of NYLA STAR Jewelry
Leslie Kumar’s spectacularly sleek jewelry line, NYLA STAR, is the stuff that a fashion editor’s dreams are made of; sophisticated with a little sparkle, timeless yet decidedly modern. So it’s no surprise that the Stamford-based designer’s collection has been highlighted in top magazines - Elle, InStyle, Brides, and Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue have all featured her pieces.
Read on to find out what inspires Kumar, which celebrity she’d love to see wearing her jewelry, and why she loves what she does.
How did you get started as a jewelry designer?
I feel like the stars were all aligned for me. After loosing my job in real estate in 2009, I spent some time thinking about what I really wanted to be doing. Designing for and owning my own jewelry company was it! I stumbled upon an amazing manufacturer based out of Brooklyn via Craigslist and voila! Here I am finally doing what I love.
What elements inspire you to create a piece of jewelry?
Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds. One of the great things about NYLA STAR is that it has the look of fine jewelry, yet is a fraction of the cost. Pairing your NYLA STAR jewels with your fine gems looks divine.
Are there certain materials that you gravitate toward?
I tend to work mostly with cubic zirconia, mother of pearl and black onyx. Occasionally I will throw in some color for the fun of it, but the core of the collection is 14K gold plated and cubic zirconia. It’s been working so far, so I’m sticking to it.
From start to finish, how long does it take to produce a piece?
On average it takes about four months. There are quite a few steps to the design and production process. After designing a piece I send it to my manufacturer who then sends me a 3D rendering. I then either approve or make changes. After a design is approved a mold is made and then mass production begins!
How many pieces are currently in your line and how frequently do you introduce new pieces?
Right now, about 120 pieces are in the line. I sprinkle in new designs all the time, but generally come out with two collections a year, spring/summer and fall/holiday.
Your work has been featured in national magazines and on TV, how did it feel to see your designs in the spotlight? Are there any celebrities who you'd love to see wearing your jewelry?
It feels pretty amazing. My heart skips a beat every time. To think that hundreds of thousands of eyes are seeing my jewelry always makes me feel pretty proud. I would go bananas if Kate Middleton wore NYLA STAR.
Which piece from your collection do you refuse to leave home without?
My ‘Madge’ bracelet. It’s become a fixture on my wrist for a couple months now.
What's exciting you in fashion right now?
I’m absolutely loving the capes that we’ve seen on the red carpet this awards season. So classic and elegant. They are really so simple, yet make such a statement.
What's you favorite gem?
Why, diamonds, of course.
Who is your favorite fashion icon?
Cate Blanchett…she’s just stunning.
What's your favorite thing about what you do?
My favorite thing is getting compliments on the jewelry from total strangers. It keeps me going and reassures me that I’m definitely doing the right thing.
NYLA STAR Jewelry can be found online or locally at:
Erica K, Darien
Lillian August, Norwalk and Greenwich
Pimlico, New Canaan