Fashion Jewellery and Accessories Industry Insights
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Natural, unique and soft to the touch, jewellery made from superbly tactile materials such as woollen or cotton yarn is given a distinctive character through meticulous craftsmanship. Two Europe-based makers show us their unlimited potential.


Greek designer Loula Klimi expresses her passion for natural materials and handcrafting techniques through the creation of a series of crocheted and knitted jewellery. Founded seven years ago, her label Loulalalou has attracted a global following, especially in Europe and Australia, that appreciates her simple, organic yet contemporary creations.

Woolly bib necklaces, rustic boho bangles and fun knitted brooches in earth tones evoke a warm, relaxed vibe that reflects her understanding of the materials and her urge “to play with yarns, fabrics and textures and create things that could be worn”.

“I prefer to use pure natural materials and try not to use synthetic ones. That’s why my jewellery is made from cotton or woollen yarn, natural linen cords and wooden or glass beads,” she said. Apart from fulfilling her goal of making natural and eco-friendly jewellery, she simply enjoys the feel of the materials while she is creating.

The history of her creative endeavour goes all the way back to her childhood, when her mother taught her how to crochet and knit. “I appreciate their versatility and ability to create the forms I want in my projects,” she added. “I really enjoy the fact that there is no need for any special equipment for my jewellery. I need only two tools, a crochet hook and yarn, and with them I can make so many different things almost everywhere!”

Thin crocheted bracelets in various hues, long necklaces crocheted from linen cord, as well as a grey bracelet adorned with silver glass beads are her customers’ favourites, the last being her best-selling item. On the other hand, the artist-creator is particularly fond of her crocheted tube necklaces. “They give me the opportunity to create organic forms and play with shape and colour combinations.”

Items from Loulalalou are priced from €10 to €50 (US$11.65 to US$58.25). To add a different texture to the mix, Klimi is developing a ceramic and crochet collection using pottery clay.

Amigurumi Jewelry

From romantic bracelet cuffs with a charming folklore character to opulent and sexy monochrome items embellished with gleaming beads, these intricate pieces are painstakingly designed and woven together by Katerina Dimitrova, a crochet jewellery maker based in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Her love and passion for the Japanese crochet technique “amigurumi” – its importance signified in her label – brought her to the world of handcrafted jewellery. A wide variety of materials are used in her pieces, including natural stone beads, crystals, glass beads and microfibre thread, but cotton thread is her favourite: “I like to crochet with cotton thread the most – it is soft and gentle to the touch and does not cause any allergic reactions,” said Dimitrova.


Among her worldwide customers, those from her home country appreciate the crocheted cuffs with Bulgarian embroidered motifs the most, while bracelet cuffs with beads and crystals are best-received in other parts of the world. Prices range from US$40 to US$110 per item, depending on the complexity of the workmanship, such as the techniques involved, and the time required, which ranges from three or four days to one week.

“I use different techniques for my bracelets such as free form crochet, Turkish oya crochet, crochet with beads and embroidery,” she explained. “Because of the free form crochet technique, all my cuffs are unique and even I can’t reproduce them exactly. My idea is to create unique jewellery pieces so that everyone who owns one feels special.”

Apart from her signature crochet bracelet cuffs, Dimitrova also makes rings, earrings, necklaces and anklets using similar materials and techniques, the results being equally enchanting.

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Having received positive feedback since its debut in 2015, the Fashion Jewellery Atelier is making a strong comeback at the March Fair, in which 14 indie designers will proudly display their latest creations. AFJA Review discusses creativity with some of them.


Ives Chan – Hermoso

Vintage and geometric are the main styles of my brand. Besides brass and natural gemstones, I have adopted some industrial elements in my latest collection. At the moment I am looking for courses on making brass pieces, so as to extend my range of abilities.

Speaking of my latest collection, it is about accessorising with vintage perfume bottles. One of my customers once brought me her grandma’s vintage perfume bottle to make a necklace to remind her of their good times.



Danica So – Opsy Craft

Bracelets with natural gemstones in general are made with simply a single natural gemstone, which is quite a dull design. This inspired me to create the 925 Silver series. Each product is made with a few natural gemstones of different types, together with hand-braided 925 silver wire. This combination results in unique and stylish accessories.

The Shih Tzu necklace pendant is my favourite piece from the recently created series, “My Pets”. The inspiration came from my dog, which has played an important role in my life for more than 15 years. I also wanted to create pendants of a variety of breeds so that more pet lovers can take their lovely pets with them wherever they go.

I have started creating a couple of breeds for the “My Pets’’ series, as well as other pendant designs, using Silver Clay, a material which is easily shaped by hand.



Elaine Chan  – M Flower

As a floral designer, I have been engaging in the popular art of bonsai. To make good use of the materials left over from my flower class, I recycle them and turn them into fashion jewellery.

My pieces are generally made from globe amaranth, which originated in Patagonia, South America. I put either the whole plant or its petals, together with other materials such as dried plants, glitter powder or beads, into a variety of glass globes, to seal the beautiful blossomy moment. I am currently looking for more possibilities for the flowers.

My most elaborate piece is a “lovebird” hanging decoration: very sophisticated design, narrow bottleneck yet a really round bottom, clear enough to see through the different layers of the flowers.



Deborah Tsui  – Deborah Jewellery

Brought up in a family that loved jewellery and watches, I had my passions and handicrafts well nurtured from childhood, and the continuous dedication to the fashion jewellery industry propelled me towards setting up my own brand.

Usually I use daily life or vintage concepts as inspiration and transform them into simple and stunning pieces. Silver is the main material, decked out with crystal stones; or sometimes I will also use gold or platinum, to go with gemstones or diamonds. My collections “The Toothpick Star” and “Qi-pao Button” are my favourite and the iconic one respectively. For the latter, I once visited a master who made traditional Qi-pao buttons, and reinterpreted the method employing my jewellery know-how.



Sharon Cheung – MIDOTI by SHARON5

My overseas exposure to fine arts and ceramics training in different metropolitan cities has had a blended influence on my jewellery pieces. This really broadened my horizons in the fashion jewellery industry. “Metal-lace” is my recent favourite material: it’s a new German-tech material made from a combination of precious metals. Durable, yet soft in texture, it gives me a high degree of flexibility in structural formation. At the moment, we are trying to adopt 3D printing technology in some of our production processes.

“Knot-Lots” is my latest collection, inspired by the Chinese traditional happiness knot “Ru-Yi,” targeted at all brides and bridesmaids.



Ada Au  – Playful Design

As a dessert lover, I decided to use resin clay to create small but sophisticated dessert-motif fashion jewellery pieces to bring joy and happiness to the wearer. The dessert-motif pieces are all made of Japanese air-dry resin clay, which looks particularly like actual dessert.

My favourite piece is the macaroon necklace. It took me a good amount of time to create the piece; using the clay to first make the macaroon, then the raspberry and finally the cream to join them together. If any of the procedures go wrong, I have to do them again. Luckily, it turned out to be a very elegant piece.



Dawn Law  – Dawn Sonata Music Jewelry

My jewellery pieces are all music-inspired. Music should not be confined to just sound and melody; it contains other beautiful elements such as colours, lines, shapes, rhythm and texture. Therefore, I decided to perform music by transforming the notes into wearable jewellery.

I love using wire as my main material as it looks like a music stave that allows many possibilities; then decking out the whole piece with semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals to represent musical notes. Lately, I have created the new “Music Flower Collection”. I use a unique crochet technique to create different lovely flowers with many layers and patterns. I think they are just beautiful.



Queenie Chow – Pamycarie

The unexplored beauty of flowers is the essence of what drove me to fashion jewellery making, through which we perceive the boundless possibilities in flowers. I use cold porcelain and resin clay to mimic the natural form and beauty of flowers, and match them with rose gold-plated, gold-plated or pure sterling silver parts to assemble jewellery pieces. Riding on our creativity, sometimes we have “invented” flower species, in terms of their colours and forms, that have never existed.

Our latest collection is The Bouquet Earrings. We design and hand make hydrangea earrings with resin clay and 925 sterling silver chains. The launch of bouquet species and colours varies from season to season and festival to festival. Every piece is handcrafted and unique: that makes us a unique niche which the mass jewellery market can never provide.



Benson Ho – HK-Accessories

I have been involved in the fashion jewellery business for years, and sometimes the quality of mass-produced fashion jewellery is totally not up to standard. That prompted me to start thinking about what it takes to create quality pieces. Therefore, I searched for videos to see how other jewellery makers create their pieces – the whole process, including materials and tools – and self-learnt the techniques step by step. I also liked going to flea markets to see other people’s work, to try to blend their specialised elements into my own work and create my own original jewellery pieces. Finally, I started participating in such handmade flea markets to exchange ideas and concepts with others.

Toho beads, pearls and semi-precious stones are my favourite materials for creating Kumihimo bracelets. Lately, I have also mixed veg-tanned leather with the Toho bead patterns to create bracelets.



Joyce Wai – Jujube

Jujube is a Hong Kong artisan jewellery brand specialising in whimsical jewellery. All our ear wires are handmade with 14-karat gold and silver wire, embellished with vintage 1950s Swarovski findings, semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls. I have been active in the Hong Kong handmade jewellery and accessories market since 2007, and have occasionally taught beading lessons. I attended some courses at the University of Edinburgh to further polish my craftsmanship. My pieces were featured at Pop Up Asia 2016, in Taipei.

“Paradox Collection”, composed of original simple hook-style earrings, is our latest collection, featuring colourful Swarovski crystal beads with sterling silver, or 14-karat gold with pastel-coloured freshwater pearls.



Ho Wing Man – The Gal Who Sold Tora

Exploring the dynamic shapes and forms of cultured pearls always drew me into jewellery making. Baroque pearls are my all-time favourite: their unique forms, flows and hues have inspired me to create lots of different things and to experiment with some innovative techniques as well. “The Flying Birdie” is my most elaborate piece, in which two baroque pearls in bird shapes hang as earrings. It is more than just jewellery; it also represents my enthusiasm for pearls with organic forms and my wish to be as free as a bird.

“The Little Creatures” collection is my focus in 2017. We found some pearls that were in the shapes of animals, and decided to turn them into our very lovely pieces.

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One of the most beloved materials for bridal jewellery and accessories, pearls are often matched with lush fabrics and sparkling stones to accentuate the beauty of the bride.These unique adornments for the special day are produced by classic and young labels alike.


Ornella Bijoux

A grande dame in the industry, Milanese jewellery house Ornella Bijoux crafts eclectic yet sumptuous pieces that skilfully blend art and fashion. Since its inception in 1944 by Maria Vittoria Albani, the label has won the hearts of generations of wearers with refined taste.

At Ornella Bijoux’s studio in Milan, lustrous pearls, enamelled metal, Murano glass, polished shells, Swarovski crystals, painted wood and retro ceramic parts are meticulously transformed into a glamorous collection of haute couture jewellery.

The dialogue between the classic and the contemporary is even more pronounced in its range of bridal tiaras. The delicate headpieces in muted golden hues are inspired by nature and vintage designs, and all are set with pearls and crystals.

The brand’s other intricate creations are also perfect for bridal parties to brighten their look and to serve as future family heirlooms. To add to its attractive profile, Ornella Bijoux’s limited-edition jewellery has been worn by celebrities and collected by museums.


Davie & Chiyo

Founded by Vancouver sister duo Fumi and Himi Bull in 2008, Davie & Chiyo started as a small online store selling handmade pouches and purses before expanding into jewellery and custom bridal items in 2010.

A growing team of artisans has joined the workshop, crafting an uber-feminine line of bridal jewellery and accessories. Elegant sashes, comb sets, hairpins, headpieces and hair wreaths are endowed with delicate craftsmanship and mostly locally sourced materials.

“We love using freshwater pearls in our designs as they are so feminine and each one is unique,” said Fumi. “In most of our designs, we hand-wire the freshwater pearls, often interweaved with rhinestones, crystals, and golden leaves and flowers. We also use glass and Swarovski pearls, which offer a more consistent look.”

Silks, chiffons, ruffles and lace are the fabrics often used by the brand, onto which the uniquely shaped freshwater pearls and stones are sewn.

Today, the label has an international following, attracting brides from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Western Europe and more. “The bridal industry is definitely our main market, though we get gals from all stages in life looking for a new clutch or a piece of jewellery to add to their personal repertoire.”


Rings of Venus

Jamie Underwood, an independent artisan based in Arkansas, United States, is the founder and designer of her label Rings of Venus. A collection of graceful rings combines the natural beauty of freshwater pearls, gleaming crystals and the subtle form of plated wires, reminding wearers of bejewelled laurel wreaths worn by ancient goddesses.

Quality is something that is very important to me, so I want to offer a product that is made from real freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, and 24k gold-plated and sterling silver-plated metals,” she said. “[I use] flexible wires to allow the ring to seem intangible, so you forget that it is there. It also allows the design to remain light and delicate, suiting the pearls perfectly.”


Underwood has been experimenting with new designs like braided bands that are more detailed and require a longer production time. Stacking is one of the many ways to wear the rings. “I am fortunate to have a very broad range of customers, from teenagers all the way up to retirees. There is a strong demand in the Asian demographic because of their simple, modern look and feel,” she said.

“The bridal market was something that initially surprised me because I didn’t think, based on my price points, that my rings would be a good fit, but so many brides are wearing my rings as their wedding bands. I get such a request almost weekly!”


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Fashion jewellers in Japan have developed their own set of aesthetics regardless of trends: they often draw inspiration from traditional elements and handicrafts and combine them with innovative ideas to create niche items. Five Japanese jewellery makers share their insights with AFJA Review.


SAYA Jewelry Tokyo

Versatile and diversified best describes the fashion jewellery and accessories industry in Japan. As Sayaka Tanaka, founder of SAYA Jewelry Tokyo, states, the market accommodates a variety of styles and different price ranges, catering to different clienteles. Echoing the minimalist trend, delicate and dainty pieces seem to be in vogue in recent years, according to Tanaka. Among these, cotton pearls (made from natural cotton by compression and coating) are quite a thing. They are light and chic.


Tanaka’s latest creation is a collection of earrings decked out with cotton pearls and Swarovski crystal and with a matte gold flower motif, wholesaled at US$24.90. All of her jewellery is handmade in Japan. At the moment, she is launching a number of exclusive pieces each month. “Apart from the local market, I receive numerous orders from the United States. I hope I can venture into the international market some day.”

With more original handmade jewellery available nowadays, Tanaka believes the market demand will shift from mass-produced to handcrafted jewellery, while the originality and creativity of indie designers will inspire the whole industry to further evolve and take it to the next level.




“The Japanese fashion market tends not to be influenced much by trends: instead, people embrace various styles that are able to express their own personalities, such as traditional, modern, retro, handicraft, vintage, metallic, sweet and cute,” Mafumi Ishihara Burmester, co-founder of KINUKA, explained.


Kaga yubinuki is one of the historical handicraft styles long established in Japan, and it is the style of KINUKA’s specialised products. Mafumi and her partner, Eriko, enhance the traditional trade with a modern twist and originality, and it turns out those pieces are very well received in the market. Customers do appreciate originality and the intricate craftsmanship. Currently, KINUKA is producing a maximum of 30 pieces each month. The aim is to produce a small quantity so as to make every piece unique and individual. They may readjust the production plan in the future.

“Japanese silk thread is the main material of our charms, earrings, rings and bangles. Our products wholesale at from US$25 to US$70. In general, shades of blue are quite popular with my customers. Last but not least, we’d like to introduce some floral prints and bold colours for our Spring/Summer 2017 collection. And if possible, we hope to participate in the handicraft market in Germany to introduce the art of kaga yubinuki to the world.”




“Since December 2009 I have been in charge of all jewellery making processes, from sketching, prototype making, flow of design and manufacturing to quality control,” Kaori Nakanishi, designer at Chéravir, told us.

Dainty designs and sophisticated details are the essence of Chéravir jewellery. “Crème & Fraise” and “Dress Up” are their latest collection, in which Akoya pearls and garnets decorate ruffles or cloth pieces, giving wearers a 3D sense of touch. “Crème & Fraise” and “Dress Up” wholesale at from US$130 to US$300 and from US$300 to US$450 respectively. Usually, the company produces 100 pieces a year, and launches two collections per year.

Nakanishi foresees voluminous pieces and shades of blue being in vogue in Spring/Summer 2017. “With more overseas orders coming in recent years, we hope to further refine our jewellery and further promote Chéravir, and gain more popularity in the world.”




Yuko Jewelry

Having two decades of experience in the fashion jewellery industry, owner of Yuko Jewelry Yuko Machida, by observing the market, spotted that the potential of handicraft jewellery is surging in recent years. Nowadays, the individuality of a piece is always a factor.


Her designs are well received in United States, Australia and Europe, especially the bridal collection. On the other hand, customers from Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong tend to go more for the delicate styles with smaller stones for everyday occasions.

“Most of my jewellery pieces are in a soft colour palette. Recently I tried darker colour combinations, and adopted new stones such as lapis lazuli, dark blue sapphire and opaque stones. It turns out these pieces are quite popular among customers. Monthly production reaches 150 pieces, and they wholesale at from US$50.” Machida plans to adopt the traditional Japanese metal-engraving technique in her jewellery, and hopes this will bring her customers fresh insights and new accessorising experiences.




Atelier Shinji

Atelier Shinji is a family business established in the 1970s and currently based in Ginza, Tokyo. Having a background of graphic design, photography and textiles, Atelier Shinji’s handmade jewellery is imbued with non-traditional vibes. Their monthly production quantity reaches 150 to 200 pieces.

“As we specialise in the gold and silver layering technique, it makes our Sakura and Gingko collections [made of gold and silver] very popular. We plate high-purity silver with 23K gold, then we scrape away part of the gold to reveal the silver underneath. This delicate finish gives a unique beauty to a piece,” said Janine Naoi, owner of Atelier Shinji.


Featuring 18K gold and a two-tone mix of 18K gold and Britannia silver 958, the company’s latest collection is a modern interpretation of the Japanese “Enmusubi (a knot tie symbolising the destiny of union and relationships).” Naoi reveals that they are planning to apply more precious metals in their collections in an unconventional way.

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Blending industrial materials with jewellery making, the United States-based creative duo turn concrete into luxurious modern jewellery pieces. AFJA Review had a chat with Chris about the philosophy behind Hanover Designs.


Q: What caused you to come up with the idea of using concrete to create jewellery?

A: We have always been amazed by its look and feel in the architecture and interior design field. After making some concrete furniture pieces and seeing the flexibility of the material, we decided to see how it could work for personal fashion.


Q: How did you start creating your own jewellery?

A: My wife Rachel doesn’t have any formal training in jewellery design. She has always been a maker, doing lots of DIY projects and a wide range of crafts. The flexibility of concrete allows for a lot of creative freedom, which drew her strongly to concrete jewellery making.


Q: In what ways are your designs and style unconventional?

A: Concrete is actually one of the lightest materials on the market, and it’s relatively easy to polish. Usually, people have all of these assumptions about our materials: heavy, cold, raw, rough, dirty etc, yet we break those assumptions by making it light, warm, smooth, clean, luxurious and modern. And our customers like that. We always like to defy people’s expectations. Our styles might be simple or minimalist, but they are also strong and bold.


Q: From where do you draw your inspiration?

A: Mostly from architecture. We try to capture the feel of modern industrial buildings and we like their sense of simple utility and their sharp clean lines. Hanover Designs is based out of Pittsburgh, which is historically a manufacturing town, so we draw a lot on the foundries, forges and warehouses that made this city; but we also pull in elements of style from the new wave of technology, fashion and culture that has been exploding here in the past five years.

Q: How do you incorporate your aesthetics to keep the pieces modern and chic?

A: Our contradictory combination of luxury metals and concrete represents what we are to people: you can be strong and you can still be luxurious. Just because you are strong, doesn’t mean you have to be cold or rough. Just because you are beautiful and luxurious does not mean you have to be fragile. This is the theme behind all our work: highlighting the beauty of strength. We think that will always be fashionable.


Q: Can you tell us about the fashion jewellery scene in the United States?

A: The Maker Movement has been huge on the jewellery scene in the past few years. People want a piece that was customised just for them. They don’t want to adopt someone else’s style, they want a designer to capture their own style and bring it to life in a piece of jewellery. Maker spaces like TechShop and online platforms like Etsy have made it easier than ever before to make custom jewellery. As manufacturing technology improves, more and more of our jewellery and fashion pieces will be custom-made.


Q: What kinds of materials do you mostly apply in your fashion jewellery?

A: Concrete, precious metals, coloured glass, gold leaf. Generally we sell our fashion jewellery at from US$20 to US$100.


Q: What are the difficulties you face in working with concrete?

A: The hardest part is getting the chemistry behind the concrete right. You have to get the perfect combination of aggregates to get the strength you need, but without making the surface too rough. We use three to four types of concrete, depending on what the piece needs.


Q: Which is your favourite and most elaborate piece, and why?

A: Definitely the light-grey diamond necklace with the gold leaf. It’s the most versatile piece: it looks great with a formal outfit, a cocktail dress, or a casual everyday ensemble.


Q: Can you describe your production procedure?

A: We make a special concrete mix, depending on what type of piece it is and how strong, smooth and thick it needs to be. We then hand pour it into moulds. We let it set (the length of time depending on the type of concrete mix), and finally, after it’s set and dried, we sand down the piece and polish it.


Q: What are your brand’s major sales channels? How do you promote your brand?

A: Primarily e-commerce, but we also wholesale to independent retailers. We promote through online channels as well as influencer marketing.


Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: We have a lot of projects in the lab right now. We’re working on a new men’s line, launching some new necklace designs, and playing with a technique to “marble” our concrete.

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