Meet Chris Aire: The Nigerian-Born Hollywood ‘King of Bling’

Mark Babatunde November 21, 2016

Hollywood’s world of make-believe is arguably the most important aspect of the global show business industry. Its famous stars, musicians, actors, and directors recognize the power of appearance, which does not always equal reality. In the world of entertainment though, appearance is everything.

The most popular artists and celebrities often commit their time and resources into crafting a carefully managed image consisting of luxurious cars, designer clothes, and expensive jewelry meant to project success and power. One man in particular has made it his business to help celebrities shine and dazzle with their jewelry accessories.

Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Angelina Jolie wearing a bracelet designed by Chris Aire. Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Nigerian-born Chris Aire is one of Hollywood’s most-successful and sought-after jewelers. He has been nicknamed the “Iceman” and the “King of Bling” for his tastefully crafted line of creations that have helped his brand become the preferred choice for some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. Since its inception in 1996, the Aire brand has grown into a signature trademark that evokes the best of the good life, luxury, self-indulgence, and extravagance.

Muhammad Ali rocking a Chris Aire designed watch. Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Muhammad Ali rocking a Chris Aire designed watch. Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Halle Berry wearing dog tags designed by Chris Aire. Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Halle Berry wearing dog tags designed by Chris Aire. Photo Credit: Chris Aire

Humble Beginnings

Aire was born Christopher Airemiokhai Iluobe in the small town of Uromi, Nigeria, to a wealthy businessman Father and a stay-at-home Mother.  He spent most of his formative years in nearby Benin City. In 1983, he left for the United States to pursue higher education, and also to distance himself from his father’s shadow.

Aire studied acting and directing at California State University in Long Beach, where he nursed dreams of launching a career in the world of show business. To support himself through college, he worked night shifts flipping burgers in fast food restaurant chains. According to Aire, he studied all day and worked all night.

Aire’s attempt to break into Hollywood led him to a dead-end, but he soon channeled his creative talents into music, becoming a part of a dance band called “Raw Silk.” He would later leave the group to launch a solo career, but his foray into music was only moderately successful and his only major achievement was making it to the no. 8 spot on the American Street chart and getting his video aired on BET.

Photo Credit: CNN

American rapper and businessman 50 Cent posing with Chris Aire. Photo Credit: CNN

Career Pivot

Aire would later venture into jewelry making, spending six years studying as an apprentice under Paul Banayan who worked for Los Angeles-based wholesaler P-5 Jewelers. Under Banayan, he learned the art of designing intricate jewelry and timepieces.

In 1997, Aire got his first big break when NBA superstar Gary Payton hired him to design a private collection of jewelry. Aire’s impeccable creations, attention to detail, and work ethic eventually helped him open many doors in Hollywood. Aire is largely credited with creating the “Bling-Bling”  jewelry culture that is common among American hip-hop stars.

Aire’s list of clients include Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Jamie Foxx, Clint Eastwood, Liam Hemsworth, Forest Whitaker, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne, Adrien Brody, Madonna, Shaggy, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Usher, Chris Brown, and Snoop Dogg.

Still, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. He visits Nigeria often and is involved with a number of local charities. A part of all his sales are donated to provide access to clean water and education to people in Nigeria and around the world, and he is  committed to using only diamonds and other gemstones sourced from conflict-free zones in Africa. He also supports Dream Foundation and Jenesee Center Inc. in the United States.

Aire is married to Diana Atinuke Durojaiye and the couple are raising their three children in Los Angeles, California.

Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: November 21, 2016


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