Shiva Safai—beauty and lifestyle maven, entrepreneur and model—gets it, that whole style thing. She knows how to seamlessly shift from sparkling couture to a well-put-together off-duty wardrobe at the drop of a hat. She understands how to build an aspirational lifestyle brand backed with intention and devoid of pretense. Last month, she launched a jewelry line, “Golden Daric Collection,” which is the fruit of a collaboration between Shiva and jewelry designer Noush. At first glance, it appears to be a distillation of Shiva’s cultural influences, heritage and highly coveted aesthetic. But the collection, which boasts a handful of necklaces and rings rendered in 14-karat gold, is also just as much about the wearer as it is about Shiva. That’s another thing about the newly minted designer. She knows that when it comes to a personal story, jewelry can speak volumes, if you let it do the talking.
I first meet Shiva at Los Angeles Fashion Week—a five-day fashion extravaganza she was invited to host—two months before the launch of her jewelry line. On Oct. 9th, the fourth day of the event, after the LA-based Lakris’ show draws to a close, and everyone funnels back into the rooftop reception area, I sit down with Shiva to chat about her the release of her jewelry line.
Upon nestling into our seats, a few things are immediately obvious. First, of course, is her beauty. Shiva’s dark-honey eyes are instantly captivating, matched only by her lustrous chestnut hair, which, today, she has parted sharply down the middle and slicked back. She has a sweet, oceanic rhythm to way she speaks, which she somehow maintains in this loud environment that’s definitely above my tolerance threshold for sound.
But there’s something else. The more I try to pin it down, the more elusive it seems. At the same exact time, she’s someone you know and don’t know, like a formerly close friend you haven’t seen in a very long time. Shiva’s story isn’t necessarily unique, but it’s impressive nevertheless. She was born in Iran and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19, by way of Norway. She snagged a job working as a criminal background checker, and after cutting her teeth in the industry, she decided to open her own criminal background check business, which she ran for over a decade. All to say, she’s been flexing her entrepreneurial muscles for quite some time now.
Shiva has been engaged to luxury real estate developer Mohamed Hadid since 2014. Together, they live in a grandiose Bel Air mansion outfitted with a swan-studded pond, a Moroccan hammam and a baroque theater. In 2017, Shiva—along with Mohamed and their sprawling home—appeared on the E! reality show, Second Wives Club. The show followed Shiva and a clique of women as they navigated their marriages, businesses and glamorous day-to-day lives in the Golden State. (On the show, Shiva was known for being a fount of life advice, the person who gave practical, canny guidance and devoted herself to untangling snafus while keeping a level head.) Aside from her television appearances, Shiva is involved in philanthropic work, in particular, the MAKAH Charity, an Iranian-based International Society for Children with Cancer. Not to mention, with 777,000 followers under her belt, it’s safe to say she’s already joined the upper echelons of Instagram influencers.
I ask her if she’s ever taken on an endeavor like dreaming up jewelry designs before. “Never,” she says. “This is my first collection, and I’m super nervous. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but I’m very happy and pleased with the outcome.”
The inspiration for the collection came to her during a trip to the Middle East, where she caught sight of a Persian daric—an ancient gold coin that circulated throughout the Persian Empire—that hogged her attention. In a way, she always had a fondness for artifacts, so it was only natural that when Anousha Razavi of Noush Jewelry approached her with a proposal for a potential collaboration, Shiva thought of weaving the daric into the vision.
“You can customize it on the back,” she says, referring to the coin-shaped pendant around her neck. I lean in to take a closer glance at the flushed, dusky red rubies peeking from inside of a tiny pomegranate split down the center. She turns it this way then that, the iridescent stone shimmering even under the turbulent clash of moonlight and party lights. Pomegranates, she’s quick to mention, hold a special meaning in Iranian culture. The fruit is often regarded as a symbol of love, bliss and beauty. In fact, Shiva makes good use of symbolism throughout the collection. Look closely, and you’ll find symbols of peace and strength in the finely embossed olive branches and oak branches that run along the edges of one of her daric-inspired pendants. In another, you’ll notice two fish swimming around a pond—or more precisely, a dazzling dollop of diamond—which is thought to bring about a long and healthy life. You’ll also recognize the more ubiquitous image of the evil eye, which is said to ward off misfortunes and tilt the odds in your favor.
In reality, when you look at the bigger picture, Shiva’s collaboration with Noush Jewelry is somewhat of a lesson in the art of uber-personalization. Not only can you, as Shiva mentioned, customize pendants with your name, you can do so in Roman cuneiform or Perso-Arabic. You can have your pick of stone, be it diamond, blue sapphire, ruby or emerald. You can toggle the fine chain at any length or wrap it around your wrist into a bracelet. At first, it might seem like a lot to get your head around, but the end result, which will set you back close-to $2,400, is meant to feel all the more like, well, you.
But more importantly, Shiva went on to stress, the pieces are engraved with words of empowerment and love, messages that, Shiva hopes, will be a daily reminder for women to pause, take a breather and find solace and drive in self-expression. “I feel like it’s so important for women to empower one another instead of bringing each other down,” she said. “It’s so important to give everyone that confidence—that everyone is strong enough, that everyone is independent enough to be able to be who they want to be. I feel like this collection also brings a lot of that.”