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The Curve: Karen Hsiang Jewellery Interview

Monday 20 January 2014

Upon discovering Karen Hsiang's stunning array of elegantly feminine and delicately precious jewellery I immediately knew I wanted to find out more about the person behind the brand. The effortless ability to abundantly layer her jewellery without looking too overdone when in fact, it's still not enough, is the fundamental beauty of the jewellery concept. Her curvature rings are her most defining pieces from the entire collection; inspired by the dancer's lithe body and the sensuous shapes and movements the body creates. Her curve ring and lariat necklace are my absolute personal favourites. Without much further ado Karen let us in behind the making of Karen Hsiang jewellery and her insights of the illustrious world of jewellery.

1. What made you realise you wanted to become a jewellery designer?

I've always had a knack for jewelry ever since I was little. I would play in my grandmother's jewelry box for hours on end. In high school I would make statement necklaces out of mini toys and legos and sketch out pages of jewelry in my free time. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be a jewelry designer! It was always something I thought was unattainable, so even now I'm pinching myself all the time! 

2. How did you start off in the jewellery industry? 

I kind of fell into it actually. My job at the time was not fulfilling me creatively so I started an e-commerce website that sold and handmade jewelry on the side. It was doing well, but I wanted a space that I could interact with customers on a personal basis. A year later I opened an actual brick and mortar shop and the rest is history! 

3. Congratulations on setting up The Shangri-la boutique in Los Angeles, it is quite unique! Tell us a little about it. 

Thank you! It's been the most amazing experience! I opened the space so customers can try on jewelry and feel the tangible product and see the actual fit and drape on the body. I love the personal aspect of an actual store. The best part is seeing all the amazing jewelry my customers come in with! The boutique is nestled in a quaint airstream trailer, and I've been in that location for two years. I'm moving locations in a few months into a bigger space so I'm very excited about what's to come! The jewelry I curate are pieces that are handmade by local and international artisans and are pieces that can fit into your already existing plethora of jewels, or great starter pieces for women who want to start a great collection. 

4. You also represent fellow independent jewellery designers by stocking their pieces in your boutique. How important is it to support fellow independents alike?

I think independent designers are the most creative and the most passionate about that they do. The blood, sweat, and tears us small designers go through need spaces like my boutique to showcase their amazing creations. It's hard to get your foot in the door in the beginning stages, and I love helping designers get their names out there. 

5. You've created a signature piece with curvatures in your collections, what inspired you this idea?

A long long time ago, in a land far away, I was a dancer. Dance has always inspired me in all my creative outlets and I think the body is such a powerful vessel for movement. The curvatures of the body and the sensual shapes the body can create is a big inspiration for my line. 

6. How would you describe your customer base?

My customer is a woman who loves well made and contemporary jewelry. She loves unconventional but timeless pieces that will carry with her for generations. 

7. Do you have a favourite piece from your collection? What do you always wear?

My Curve ring in 14kt gold has not left my hand since it was made! It sits perfectly in the crevice and curve of my hand, and it stacks amazingly with other pieces I have in the collection and other designers as well. 

8. What are your future aspirations?

I would love to be designing jewelry for the rest of my time here on earth. Even though it's amazing to see your jewelry in magazines and in print, the best feeling in the world is seeing your creations on a customer walking down the street. My goal is to see many women in day to day situations wearing Karen Hsiang Jewelry.

 9. What advise could you provide for budding jewellery designers trying to set up their own brand?

I think the best advice someone told me was to stay grounded and keep trying. It's hard to break through the walls of the jewelry industry, but it takes time and effort on your part. Don't give up! 

10. Three words to describe your jewellery.

Personal contemporary alchemy. 

Jenny Sweetnam & Idamari at DESIGNER/MAKER

Thursday 16 January 2014

A unique platform for emerging independent designers from across the UK, DESIGNER/MAKER held a marketplace in lively Southbank showcasing the best handcrafted works of hidden and unhidden talents. Upon hearing independent jewellery designers are also taking part in the event, it would have been an opportunity missed if I didn't attend.

Ignoring the drenching rain that evening the team of DESIGNER/MAKER made me feel welcome with a delightful evening 'brunch' from lepainquotidien (never been a big fan of mince pies however theirs were delicious!) After chatting to fellow talent-enthusiasts we wandered along the marketplace looking for a possible early Christmas treat. There in the middle of the stall I met Jenny Sweetnam and Ida Marie Molander of Idamari with their amazing collection of geometric-inspired jewellery all on show. I was in dreamland.

Due to my love for modern and edgy jewellery I've spent a long duration admiring their collections that were not too dissimilar from one another; as if it was a collaborative effort between these two young talents. My personal pick from Ida's collection has to be the bold Noble ring that is organic yet industrial-looking with its smooth edges; a playful mix of nature and modernity. And who could forget Sweetnam's Mountain ring, a glorified knuckleduster that is fierce and daring to be worn.

I came away from the event with Sweetnam's sterling silver rose thorn studs. I adore the texture, sharpness and daintiness to it. I seriously didn't know how I managed to restrain myself from purchasing more from their collection but hopefully it's not the last of the investment. So change from the norm and wear geometric/organic jewellery that will guarantee to grab your attention.

Images: My own

Websites to visit: 

Rock It! Knock Out with Ruifier Icon Ring

Thursday 9 January 2014

 First thought when Ruifier came into my life is how fantastically uber-cool is the name? Since its launch last September Ruifier has already been featured in prime publications such as Vogue, Grazia and Stylist, leaving a trail of positive buzz and glory for this unique concept of a brand that emphasise on movements and modern femininity. It is not surprising to hear Ruifier is currently one of the most in demand jewellery of 2014.

The Icon ring featured here is their signature piece and what I would describe as Ruifier-esque. Its classic yet thoroughly modern and innovative design captures our utmost attention with its bold and chunky aesthetic. 

 Expect big things from Ruifier in 2014.

Visit their website
Image: My own and

Urban/Nature Love-In with Adriatic Jewelry

Friday 3 January 2014

 A story is a core ingredient when it comes to creating a piece of jewellery. From ideas to sketches and design to product; the laborious yet satisfying stages are a story in itself.

Adriatic Jewellery founder Rebecca Fragola uses her past, present and future to create pieces that has sentimental importance and a continuous narrative. Her inspiration comes from a contrasting combination of architecture in New York City where she is currently based and the beautiful Adriatic Sea where she spent her summers on a small island. 

The tall, sky-scraping buildings in New York City is used for its form and structure to create elongated and clean lines stacked together, symbolically emphasising the intimate closeness of the buildings and its people in New York City. The tiered piped ring also has a small element of the Adriatic influence with its organic tone and clean texture. Or possibly, the ring is inspired by the elongated area of the Adriatic Sea nestled in a cove between Italy and Croatia. 

 There is an accidental/subconscious deliberation of taking my images by the beach and Rebecca's images in an urban area. The ring worn alone by the beach represents the vastness of the never ending sea, a view undisturbed and uncluttered to reveal its natural beauty entirely on its own. Whereas the images taken in an urban area with a collection of jewellery worn represent the closeness of everything in New York City, hence the rings, bracelet and necklace being worn altogether against dark clothing; a representation of shadows and silhouettes being over-casted by skyscrapers. 

My favourite item out of the whole collection is certainly the tiered piped geometric ring in brass due to its clean lines and simplicity of it all. It has a feel of a statement piece due to its size yet at the same time it is wearable everyday; it does not feel like a ring that cannot be worn for certain occasions and  situations. This is possibly the sole purpose of it all. Jewellery does not need a reason. 

Images: Mine and Rebecca Fragola

About the designer

 Rebecca Fragola uses recycled metals (brass, silver and copper) and unique gemstones for her handmade jewellery line. She has a BFA in metalsmithing and is always trying to learn new techniques to expand her line. Her Australian Shepherd Shelby is always in the studio to keep her company. 

To check her website for more pieces please visit 

  More about this etsy feature

Adriatic Jewellery is the third of my new exciting collaborative project based on etsy boutique owners concentrating solely on independent jewellery designers every fortnight. The designers I've have chosen are all unique in their own way and everything is completely made by hand. 


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