How Jewelry Designer Nirav Modi Earned His “Diamond King” Nickname

Even if the name Nirav Modi doesn’t ring a bell, chances are you know the designer’s handiwork: say, the diamond cascades that dangled from Kate Winslet’s lobes at last year’s Oscars, or the equally showstopping drops Kate McKinnon wore on the cover of ELLE’s own debut Women in Comedy Issue. Impressive headway, so to speak, for someone who started his business on a lark less than a decade ago.

From left to right:

1) Yellow and white diamond and white and yellow gold earrings, Nirav Modi, price on request, at Nirav Modi, NYC

2) Pink and clear diamond and white and pink gold ring, Nirav Modi, price on request, visit

3) Diamond, ruby, and white and yellow gold necklace, Nirav Modi, price on request, visit

The 45-year-old India- born, Antwerp-raised jeweler founded his namesake house in Mumbai in 2010 after creating a pair of bespoke earrings for a friend—it didn’t hurt that he came from a family of established diamond suppliers—and opened his first U.S. store on Madison Avenue in 2015. Today he reportedly boasts a $2 billion jewelry empire and is known as the “Diamond King” in the Indian press, thanks to his use of rare stones such as “pigeon blood” rubies and near-flawless, gem-quality pink diamonds (so scarce that the industry mines just enough of them annually to fill a champagne flute). He’s also patented three stonecutting techniques, including the petal-like Mughal cut inspired by the architectural style of the Taj Mahal. But no matter how precious his materials, Modi’s approach is refreshingly laid-back: “Jewelry is meant to be worn,” he says. “Many people just keep it in a safe—it makes no sense.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of ELLE.