Meet our May That Girls, Michelle Buxani and Nayantara Dhillon!
‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’. Marilyn Monroe is right on the money with this and obviously, Michelle Buxani and Nayantara Dhillon who are overseeing Temptations Jewellery in Singapore are the luckiest GirlBosses in town to be surrounded by so much bling. A brand that was set up 18 years ago by two sisters in Hong Kong, the business today is managed by the daughters in the family and from our visit to their showroom a few weeks ago, Michelle and Nayantara are doing a stellar job in the +65. These two elegant ladies are very proud of their Indian heritage and this passion is evident in their designs. The way they spoke about gems and diamonds was so mesmerising that we might have seen stars (pun intended). We paid Temptations a visit and hung out with the ladies to talk about all things sparkly and of course, gawk at all their beautiful creations.
Hi ladies! Can you tell us more about your background and Temptations Jewellery?
Nayantara: I have always been passionate about art in all its forms. This interest led me to pursue a Diploma in Indian Art and Mughal Miniatures from the British Museum and then subsequently, a Masters in South East Asian Art and Archeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. After completing my Masters, I worked briefly within the contemporary art department of a leading auction house in London. This exposure made me fall in love with the world of art and I subsequently set up my own art company that promoted the talents of Indian artists and organised art shows in London.
I moved to Singapore from London five years ago, after giving birth to my first son; and began to channel my creativity in designing jewellery. My earliest inspiration in design came from my travels and the rich Indian heritage that I hail from. The first piece of jewellery that I designed was the Turkish Evil eye, upon my return from Istanbul.
Michelle: Growing up, I was a tomboy who didn’t even look at jewellery. Sport was more my thing than fashion. I completed an LLB and then a Masters in Finance in London, and worked in the finance industry right after, in Hong Kong. After a short stint in the family jewellery business, I decided to immerse myself full time. I went on to complete my Jewellery Design and Graduate Gemologist Diplomas with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
How does it feel like working in a business that’s full of family history?
We are immensely proud to be part of this legacy. We want to build on it, contribute towards it, keep it going, and hopefully pass it down to our kids one day.
Have you both always been interested in diamonds?
As soon as we were introduced to it, we were hooked!
What are some of the challenges you face as a jeweller?
We enjoy spending time with clients to focus on the real asset value of diamonds and other precious stones. Jewellery should be an investment alongside a passion, something that is always tradable and has an intrinsic value. As such, we lay great importance on the quality of the stones that we include in our designs.
What’s your favourite engagement ring cut or setting?
N: I love the brilliant cut heart shape diamonds. Though not a very popular cut for engagement rings, I feel a heart shape diamond is a unique and unmistakable symbol of love. Owing to its complex shape, brilliant heart shape diamonds can be a rarity.
M: My favourite is the classic round brilliant cut. Simplicity is what attracts me. A close second would be the brilliant cut pear shape. I have the most fun designing using pear shapes as I feel the imagination of what can be achieved is endless.
What inspires the both of you?
N: I get inspiration from everyday things to the environment around me and from my travels. I love Mughal miniature art and especially the miniatures that were commissioned under Jahangir’s atelier. I feel a lot of my inspiration is from my rich Indian heritage.
M: I too get my inspiration from my travels, and generally things around me that I encounter in my day-to-day life. If I see something interesting, be it a pattern, a sculpture, a scenery, a building, I pull out my phone and take a picture. When I sit down to design, I go through all my pictures and take inspiration from them.
How has the shift from Hong Kong to Singapore been for you?
N: We moved when I was six months pregnant so it did take me a year to settle down completely after our eldest was born. But from the moment we landed in Singapore, I fell in love with the city; from the focus on integrating greenery into the city environment to the food!
M: The move came with natural ease. HK is similar to Singapore in terms of city life, but Singapore is calmer and operates at a less hectic pace. In the beginning, I did miss the hustle of HK but I soon learned to relax and felt right at home in Singapore. I’ve met some great people here and I think that too has helped me settle in easily.
Okay, real talk: You both have access to all the amazing pieces in the Temptations collection, but what are the ones you find yourself wearing everyday?
N: I am a casual and easy dresser. I love my jeans and t-shirts; especially since I have to run behind my two boys, a four-year old and 10-month old. I rarely leave my house without my round solitaire earrings (which I feel are a must of all girls and are very versatile too!) and my heart shaped ring which my husband gifted me on our first anniversary.
M: Ahh yes, my solitaire earrings too! They are always on my ears. I only change it up if I’m going to a fancy dinner or big party. I think they are a must have for all women – they make you look sophisticated without even trying. The other thing I always wear is my eternity band, something I think looks effortlessly sophisticated, and doesn’t get in the way when I’m working everyday.
What are some of your favourite hang out spots in Singapore?
N: I love the Fullerton Bay for its high tea with friends; Spago for a night out; Iggy’s for its delicious Michelin star food and the Botanical gardens with my two little boys and Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up coffee and chat with good friends! The National Gallery and the Botanical Gardens are a great place when looking for inspiration.
M: I think all the new drinking and dining spots at the National Gallery are great, and I’m looking forward to the new places once South Beach officially opens. Spago is always reliable for a drink, and Tanjong Beach Club is great to relax on the weekend.
What do you love about Singapore?
We both love the organised and focused Singaporean environment along with the safety that it provides for our families. Singapore is so well connected that and is a great city from which to see the world.
Do you have any advice for aspiring #GirlBosses?
Have a vision and stay focused. There may be temporary roadblocks but sometimes the challenges that the roadblocks bring inspire you in the most positive ways. Dream big and you will achieve big things! Oh, don’t forget to be happy and nice to people and smile often, because that’s your best asset!
Thanks so much for your insight, Michelle and Nayantara! You’re a real inspiration to all of us Sassy Girls! Special thanks to the vivacious Shamsydar Ani Photography for the awesome images of these ladies!