Simple Sleek Design.   Repetitive Patterns.   Bold Tribal Style. 

Nakarali presents a BOLD new BRASS collection…

Read more about Colleena’s inspirations as the designer / collector of NAKARALI…


Tribal inspiration: 

 Through all my travels across the world, there remain a few tribes and regions that have greatly inspired my ideal adornment.  Living primarily in India since 2001, I have traveled to some pretty obscure places hunting for jewelry, lost tribes or disappearing folk arts.  Though I work a lot with cultural preservation and some of our jewelry collections are aimed at true preservation, this collection is an internalized vision, an artistic inspiration, rather than culturally specific adornment.  I wanted to credit and share the beauty of some of these tribal inspirations I have encountered along the way.



Annually I visit Orissa for my Odissi dance training (Orissa is a state in Eastern India, south of Bengal).  The tribal people (adavasi) of Orissa are some of the most stunning and wildly adorned tribes in the world!  Very few know about them, but I have managed to catch a few glimpses of their adornment in my travels through the rural areas of Orissa.  The Bondo and Kondh wear stacks of torque necklaces (similar to the Karen of Thailand) and rows of hoop earrings stacked on their upper ears.  While brass, silver and gold are not available in rural Orissa, the tribes wear a lot of aluminum, beadwork and even natural fibers.  I was inspired by the tough and innocent look of these women and the way they stacked the necklaces, earrings and bracelets…. And of course… I LOVE their septum rings!  They look entirely comfortable in their adornment, as if there is no shred of self-doubt in their beauty.

The repetitive patterns / lines created by stacking the same design again and again (to a degree that would look mad to other cultures), is the most satisfying aspect of the tribal style.  To wear repeatedly the same bangle, highlights the subtle textures and curves of the metal, like dancers who create movements together in unison. The effect of a “set” of bangles brings out an extraordinary element that is often not visible in a single bangle.




I have also spent a lot of time in Thailand where the Karen live in Northern Thailand.  Who would ever forget the bold impression made when first seeing these stunning women wearing stacks of brass necklaces?  There is a shock felt at first glimpse of these strangely familiar beauties that so proudly show off their eccentric jewelry habits.  A regal and ethereal persona surfaces when the neck of a woman is enhanced as her main feature.  One of the beautiful paradigm shifts I enjoy in world travel is how different ways of adorning the body draws attention to different aspects of character and body.  Like low cut shirts in the West draw ones eyes to a woman’s cleavage, these “long neck” Karan look like tribal forest queens sitting composed and tall.

Thai Brass

The theme of the repetition, simplicity in the design, stunning quality of brass and the strong impression made by the sheer quantity of adornment worn by these women was a huge inspiration in the collection – BOLD AS BRASS.


At home in Rajasthan… there really isn’t a single part of Rajasthani culture that doesn’t make me absolutely wild with inspiration!  But adornment in Rajasthan undoubtedly is one of life’s greatest thrills!  The way each and every part of a woman’s body is adorned, make such perfect sense to me.  Oversized gold nose rings, bangles stacked all the way up to the armpits, belts, anklets, big necklaces… it ALL works.

A favorite image in my mind of Rajasthan is taking walks at sunset out in to the desert on the outskirts of my village.  As I walk down the dusty road, women come out of their homes or ‘Gypsy’ camps to collect the last pots of water for the day.  They are strong women, cooking their whole family dinner, taking care of the children and collecting heavy pots full of water… ALL at the same moment!  Their faces are focused and calm.  Their arms are completely covered from the wrists up to the armpits with white plastic bangles as they lift up shining brass pots full of water on their head that sparkle in the warm setting sunlight.  To be loaded with jewelry is no bother to these women.  They walk with the confidence of being at home.

With all these images in my mind, I began to wonder what it would look like if these stacks of bangles were made out of the shiny brass of the water pots them selves.  The image had melted together in my mind and the warm setting sun had reflected its light!!  And here’s our new collection of BRASS!

Rajasthani Brass pots 2             Rajasthani bangle sets 1


As a stage performer in India, being sufficiently adorned is of utmost concern!  As most of our customers at NAKARALI wear their jewelry both on stage and on the streets of San Francisco, LA, New York and Tokyo, etc… I tried to image how this wild look of tribal Asia could relate to the urban experience.  Keeping the jewelry comfortable and practical, yet staying in theme with repetitive patterns of simple sleek designs, I came up with these sets that could be warn all at once for a STUNNING look on stage or worn piece by piece for a night out.  The bolder pieces are a reflection of that earthy tribal feminine spirit that we see in all of the tribes who inspired this collection.



The photo shoot was done in Rajasthan with epic dancers: Raki Kalbeliya from Pushkar and Raga Kaur of Chile.  Photographs by: José Abílio Perez  of Brazil.

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