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When crafty-spiritual goes luxury, Los Angeles makes Nialaya. Converging ancient and popular culture, Nialaya's signature bracelets are composed of macramé rope, precious and semi-precious stones, and symbol-laden cast beads and pendants.
The story behind the brand's shiny black storefront on Melrose is somewhat more rough-hewn. Nialaya's founder, Jannick Olander, had a life-changing experience with an Indian shaman who read Olander's palm, upon which he placed a small diamond for good luck. Olander started assembling energy-rich stones on bracelets for himself and friends in his house. Word got around, and Nialaya was born. The brand opened its flagship location in December and launched its biggest line yet, with gleaming necklaces in polished stones partnered with oversize Buddha and prayer box pendants.
We were admittedly initially skeptical of the energy chatter, but the store's lofty interior reflects the brand's accessible East-meets-West philosophy—and explains its popularity. Good music, glowing pendant lamps and vintage rock posters offset the otherworldly feel of the velvet-clad display cases made of carved wood and leather details. We were drawn to the punky monochrome bracelets in Swarovski crystals and matte onyx, though bracelets of freshwater pearls and crystal encrusted beads would make even mom happy.
The jewelry is well made, a bit chunky, but totally layer friendly, all with pull ties for a perfect fit. The affable store manager, Veronika, explained our picks: brown quartz makes dreams into reality, while onyx deflects negative energy by absorbing only light. It's especially fascinating to see "imperfect" materials—like black diamond chips, unusually shaped diamonds, and spotty lava stones—laid into clean, Eastern-inspired designs. We also loved the small selection of canary diamond rings that work with the natural shapes of the stones—alternative engagement rings at a pretty reasonable price.
The shamballa-inspired bracelets have been absorbed into hip-hop and celebrity culture over the past few years; a picture wall of famous friends (Ciara, Jay-Z, the Bieber) shows you how to wear them well. Nialaya also customizes jewelry to address the particular aesthetic or spiritual needs of clients looking for personalized combinations. Veronika pulled out a velvet tray filled with beads, and her encyclopedic knowledge can help you pinpoint the ideal ones. And since the store functions as both showroom and production space, you can get your bespoke baubles within a day.
Spiritual aspirations aside, there's a huge range of styles to suit the layered-jewels approach of both Hollywood's elite and L.A.'s trendsetters, from feminine pastels and petite diamond-clad charms to chunkier, darkened, rope-wrapped stones. They're also surprisingly unisex, with simple black bracelets perfect for men who keep their bling to a minimum. But whether you believe in energy transference between stones and body or not, we must confess the bracelet's heft felt good on the wrist. Prices range from the accessible ($200 for string and bead bracelets), to the lofty (from $600 and up for necklaces and bracelets with diamonds), with most in the $300-$500 range. Materials are sourced from around the world, including Bali, Korea, Japan and Thailand, where Olander pays regular visits, maintains personal relationships, and supports production models that minimize waste. And every piece is handmade in L.A.—a burgeoning and efficient local approach to luxury goods that we'd love to see more of.
· Nialaya [Official Site]