As more people are choosing clothes and jewelry that highlight the wearers rather than specific brands, jewelers have started creating one-of-a-kind jewelry that can showcase the wearer's personal history.
Jewelry designer Jung Soo-yeon, who launched her jewelry brand Tanello in 2000, says she has succeeded in attracting both foreigners and Koreans in Seoul looking for such unique jewelry.
"I focus on the private feeling that the jewelry can give to the wearer," said Jung in a recent interview with The Korea Herald in her showroom in Itaewon-dong, Seoul. "A lot of my creations are made to order and they all have different stories."
bout 70 per cent of her customers are foreign residents and tourists visiting Seoul. Japanese customers make up the majority of customers at the Bukchon store, located in the heart of the popular tourist area of Samcheong-dong. Her brand has been featured in Japanese fashion magazines such as "Eclat," "Croissant," "Domani" and "Frau." Her Itaewon store draws foreign residents, as well as Koreans looking for fresh, creative designs.
Most of her customers visit her shop to restyle their old jewelry. "Some people bring their family rings passed down from their grandmother to upgrade the old design. They want to continue to wear them and cherish family values," she said.
Each story embedded with jewels is as precious as the materials. A daughter remodels her mother's old rings and bracelets and makes them into brooches. A customer rekindles her travel memories by transforming an original gemstone she bought on a trip into a sophisticated jewelry item.
Jung's designs have a timeless quality. She draws her design inspiration from natural objects such as rocks and twigs and translates them into calm, feminine pieces using rarefied pearls and gemstones. The designer, who studied metalcraft, handcrafts each item to create a piece of art.
Her gold bracelets are not perfectly round, but unevenly curved in the shape of gnarled twigs. Layered with other bracelets, they look contemporary yet natural. Jung's creations reveal the original qualities of gemstones such as rubies, sherry topaz or blue topaz. The gemstones unveil their original colour when mounted on matte-finished gold rings. The irregular-shaped baroque pearls give a piece of jewelry a contemporary edge on top of the traditional femininity of pearls.