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The Diamond Earrings Padma Lakshmi Bought When She Made It

Photo-Illustration: the Strategist; Photos

We asked 15 famous people to tell us about the one thing they bought when they hit the big time and got their first paychecks — the gift they dreamed of giving themselves one day and finally did. Here, Padma Lakshmi, creator of Taste the Nation and former host of Top Chef, tells us about her first pair of diamond earrings as well as some more recent treats. Find other celebrity splurges here.

In the mid ’90s, when I first made enough money as a model, I bought a pair of diamond earrings for about $700 that I still wear. I saw them in a hotel gift shop, and I remember feeling financially empowered enough at the time to say, “I really like these, and I want to buy them for myself.” The diamonds are tiny, and there’s a long string of just five or six of them in a vertical row.

For a time, I always bought myself a gift to commemorate each project — whether it was my first Food Network show (Padma’s Passport), my role as Sylk in the movie Glitter, or the first of 42 Emmy nominations for Top Chef. But recently, I’ve fallen out of this habit. Now I try instead to invest in artists when I can — like Deborah Roberts. I’m less interested in clothes or items of self-adornment. I did, however, take my daughter on a nice trip to Costa Rica for just the two of us when I found out that Taste the Nation got 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes!

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The Diamond Earrings Padma Lakshmi Bought When She Made It