Leading designers cite passion, perseverance and flexibility as pivotal for branding acclaim
The JNA Conference on jewellery design ended on a high note, with over 150 designers, students and manufacturers from more than 25 countries and regions in attendance.
Sponsored by KGK Group, the JNA Conference: “From Inspiration to Innovation – The Designer’s Journey of Creativity” took place on September 19 on the sidelines of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Esteemed jewellery designers and business leaders shared their insights on developing one’s design voice and establishing successful eponymous brands. This was followed by a lively panel discussion on balancing signature aesthetics with profitability, winning over today’s generation of consumers, and the challenges facing jewellery designers nowadays.
Alessio Boschi, founder and designer of Alessio Boschi Jewels, stressed the importance of creating a signature look while remaining open to new influences, materials and market requirements. “Our mission as jewellery designers is to make people dream. In my case, I see no point in making ordinary, commercial and déjà vu jewellery. My creative process starts with the inspiration, the story behind every single collection I make – that is the soul of each single piece,” he revealed.
Describing jewellery as a minor art only because of its commercial rather than romantic aspect, Boschi said working with the right manufacturers is essential for success. “I want people to not only understand where the piece is done but, more importantly, be impressed by how it is done. We are designers but we need manufacturers. They are the ones that bring our beautiful ideas to life. The manufacturing must be excellent. Being careful and attentive to every single detail will determine the success or failure of our creation design-wise,” he added.
Hong Kong designer Sarah Zhuang shared her story of dedication and perseverance in the jewellery design space. After identifying niches and gaps in the market, she established the Sarah Zhuang Jewellery brand of versatile jewellery two years ago. She said, “When I first started the brand, I realised the market was already way too saturated. What could I do to innovate and offer something that was not available yet? I thought about all the busy women in the world so I decided to create jewellery that they could wear on a daily basis and transform into different styles.” Zhuang also advised young and aspiring designers to collaborate with bigger brands, retailers and other designers to raise their profile in the market.
Offering the manufacturer’s perspective was Mallika Khemlani, business development manager of KGK Jewellery (HK) Ltd. The jewellery industry, she noted, relies on designers to think out of the box and come up with fresh ideas, creativity and innovation. “Jewellery is a discipline. Without the creativity infused by designers, the repetition of designs would give the industry a sense of boredom and sluggishness. As manufacturers, we want designers to flourish creatively to set themselves apart and to work with each other to address issues hampering their continued growth and self-expression,” Khemlani said.
Fei Liu, founder and designer of Fei Liu Fine Jewellery, delved into the commercial side of the jewellery design business. “Try to keep the passion going because it is not going to be there forever. If you have an empty stomach, passion is not going to support you. You also need the cash flow to sustain the passion. You have to look at the creativity behind the design but also the creativity behind the business,” Liu urged.
Mana Matsuzaki, designer of Matsuzaki Inc, disclosed how she developed her signature style of earthy, natural and bone-themed designs. The Japanese designer also touched on the important distinction between art and design. “Art is self-expression based on your emotions. Artists express what they come up with spontaneously and freely. Design, on the other hand, is a means to communicate with an audience,” she explained.
The conference, moderated by JNA Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Christie Dang, concluded with a Designer Networking Session, headlined by KGK Group, which enabled audience members to interact among themselves and with the speakers. Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs, Informa Markets, presented the speakers with tokens of appreciation.
The JNA Conference is a high-level, influential forum that discusses pressing issues and trends shaping the international gem and jewellery landscape. Featuring leading market experts, it aims to foster dialogue and the exchange of ideas, examine avenues of growth, and cultivate best practices in the international jewellery industry.