Christopher Airemiokhai Iluobe hails from Edo State. He grew up in the village and attended Immaculate Conception College in Benin from which he graduated with a distinction. Subsequent to his graduation, this village boy helped his Father manage his oil haulage business, until a streak of independence compelled him to seek his own fortune in the United States, practically penniless. A rarity in these times, no?
Christopher headed to the States in search of an education and a career in the Arts. He kept body and soul together by working menial jobs in fast food restaurants and flipping burgers. He worked gruelling hours as he tended to his education in the daylight hours, and usually had to work through the night; a status quo which subsisted until he graduated with a degree in Acting and Directing.
Attempting to break into the acting scene in the US seemed near-impossible, and Christopher decided to turn his considerable talents to making music with a group under the ‘Raw Silk’ label. They made music together for a few years before Christopher chose to do it alone. He once had a song on number 8 on the American Street chart and also had a video on BET. That seemed to be it for the musicianship of Christopher; but his blood still boiled for more.
So, there he was struggling with the everyday hustle of being a quite unpopular singer, and he gets a chance to apprentice with a jeweller. Does he say, no, that’s too demeaning for me? No he doesn’t. Christopher hangs up his microphone and dons an apron. He bends his back to the task and learns the tricks of the trade. A brand new vista opens up to him, and he gets to hobnob with some of Hollywood’s finest while yet in his lowly state. Six years down the line, and the game is on. In 1996, Christopher stacks his hard-earned bundle of $5,000 and goes to face the world of bling, diamonds and gemstones of the most lustrous design.
$5,000 is not a lot of money when you are talking about purchasing, designing and marketing the world’s most expensive stones, but Christopher finds a way. With the goodwill and contacts he has garnered from his years of servitude, he purchases gems and manufactures on credit, and then walks the streets of the US of A hustling for celebs and other potential clients. He sells, repays the credit and starts the cycle all over again. This is so not a walk in the park!!! Infact, Christopher stated in an interview, “As a Nigerian, I have an innate sense of pride but I had to swallow that pride because I had to eat”. In addition, Christopher further deepened his understanding of precious stones at the Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad California.
Christopher engages in this donkeywork for some time until…he gets a big break! Ex-Seattle Supersonics player, Gary Paton gives him an order for $50,000 after Christopher ambushed him at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Marina Del Rey where he was lodged. They had never met.
And so the legend of Chris Aire was birthed. From designing bridal jewellery and rings, the Chris Aire brand has diversified into wristwatches, statement pieces and all forms of accessories. For almost 30 years, Chris Aire has been making magnificent pieces and his company Solid 21 Inc. is the creator of ‘red gold’ for which it holds the registered trademark.
His work has adorned an extremely diverse group of Hollywood A-listers like Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, Muhammad Ali, Jamie Foxx, Clint Eastwood, 50 Cent, Adrien Brody, Madonna, Allen Iverson and Snoop Dogg, Eva Longoria, Regina King, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Ellen Degeneres.
‘He was the first jeweller to stage a show during New York fashion week to showcase jewellery as fashion. Today his private shows set in world capitals from New York, to London to Los Angeles are legendary, attended by celebrities from all walks of life, many of whom love to walk the catwalk modelling Chris’s latest creation in support of his work.’
Chris Aire the Iceman operates a bustling design studio in Los Angeles, a retail outlet in Abuja Nigeria and has a flagship store in Beverly Hills.
Village boy turned King of Bling!!! Erm, is he married? [Cough, cough, cough]yes he is, with two kids!!!