Yap Leng Kuen talks to Nini Chan, an artisan who enjoys jewellery making process. Nini Chan, founder of Nini Jeweller Atelier, enjoys the process of creating a piece of jewellery the most, in her business of crafting and selling these valuable items.
“The process from drawing, based on imagination, to a realized form, and meeting people along the way, is what I enjoy most,’’ said Nini.
For Chinese New Year (CNY) and Valentine’s Day which falls on the third day of CNY, she has already crafted some limited edition animal pendants from Hetian jade and diamonds set in 18 carat gold.
Hetian is located in northwestern China and has been synonymous with the best nephrite; of the many varieties of Chinese jade, Hetian jade is considered to be one of the most valuable.
As a gemstone, Hetian jade is believed to have healing power and helps to ‘build up luck.’
Nini Jeweller’s best selling products are coloured gemstones.; the most popular gemstone is Spinel, which comes in different colours and shades, except the ones in yellow.
“Customers who know about Spinel love its vibrant colour and sparkle,’’ said Nini.
Depending on customers’ budgets, there are gemstones of fine quality to those in the lower range.
Bespoke, contemporary jewellery is another area for Nini Jeweller, where customers bring their own designs and Nini tries to accommodate what they want.
For 2021, Nini Jeweller plans to go into enamel jewellery pieces including some that are inlaid with gemstones.
Enamel jewellery had gained popularity in the Art Nouveau period in Europe and the US, with artists specializing in the elaborate enamel egg, while others created portrait miniatures from enamel.
Intricate, nature-inspired jewellery were also created from enameling, which also features vibrant colours without the use of precious stones.
As business is slow, Nini is finding ways to increase income.
She plans to sell jewellery findings which are parts used to join jewellery, such as jump rings, clasps for beads or pearl stringing in silver or gold.
These jewellery findings will be sold to other jewellers who sometimes find it hard to source for such items locally.
A qualified gemologist, Nini had also studied jewellery design and stone cutting.
Including Nini herself, there are two designers/craftsmen based at her shop in Tropicana Avenue; currently, they have a freelance designer/craftsman whom she intends to hire on a fulltime basis, once the situation (due to the Movement Control Order) goes back to normal.
“Inspiration comes from everywhere – our surroundings, some artwork pieces, architectural and geometric designs,’’ said Nini.
An optimist, Nini sees this slow period as a ‘time to plan and prepare for new designs.’
Her e-commerce platforms feature gemstones and some jewellery in silver and gold, and are found on The Artisans Haven and Nini Jeweller’s own website, while social media platforms include Instagram and Facebook.
Before setting up her company in 2014, Nini was working for her parents at their aluminium extrusion manufacturing factory.
The scale of the manufacturing company is considered big, and Nini had the opportunity to see the process of a raw material being turned into a finished product.
She was involved on all fronts at the factory, from production to the front end in sales and marketing.
Crafting jewellery, though on a smaller scale, just about involves the same process from the beginning to end.
“But in the process of making jewellery, one can get dirty,’’ she quipped. “so, be prepared for some ugly manicures!”
Armed with her knowledge and experience, Nini looks set to ride this wave to introduce more forms and varieties of jewellery that are of interest and appeal to customers.
By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven.
Yap Leng Kuen was a senior business editor of The Star. She continues to write Plain Speaking for The Star Online. Here’s her latest article: