East and West meet in style through Narcisa’s intricate jewellery designs…
We chatted with Hong Kong-based fashion and jewellery designer, Narcisa Pheres, about everything from diamonds to daughters (basically the same thing, right?). As the new creative director for Jewelry Maki, we were particularly excited to check out the recently launched Aristeia Collection.
From creative inspirations (spoiler alert: it’s champagne), to advice for busy working women, we couldn’t get enough of Narcisa’s passionate energy – or her jewellery! Her pieces are all about finding the “beauty in imperfection” (something we are 100% on board with) and you can clearly see her personality and attention to detail shine through the work. Each design is a combination of intricate simplicity and bold extravagance, with a focus on creating compositions that blend cultures. Between growing up in Romania, studying in London, working in Japan (she speaks fluent Japanese!) and moving to Hong Kong, it’s no surprise she takes inspiration from all over the globe.
With two little ones aged 6 and 8 (both in ESF schools in Hong Kong) at home, and travelling all over the world for work, this mama is a proud supporter of #worklifebalance. Though we may not all be a master at juggling diamonds just yet, she offers up a tip or two that we’re already taking to heart!
Read more: Keeping up with Kat: The Balancing Act
How did you initially get into the world of design, and what continues to keep you inspired?
My journey as designer began in 2000, but it feels I’ve been doing it a lot longer than that. I first delved into luxury fashion and high-end diamond jewellery by designing exclusive auction pieces for Japanese collectors. Since then, I’ve built “Narcisa Pheres” as a jewellery line dedicated exclusively for fine jewellery enthusiasts. I specialise in combining one-of-a-kind diamonds with breathtaking designs for the high-end market.
Travelling is a key factor that keeps me inspired and this resonates in my designs. I take a bit of inspiration from everything I experience. The newest Aristeia collection is designed for Jewellery Maki and draws inspiration from Kyoto, Japan. The collection draws from Kyoto’s architecture, old Japanese gardens and landscape – so it’s really intricate and grand! With an appreciation for three-dimensional finesse, the collection encompasses a sense of textures to embody a tactile sense of old Japan.
How would you describe your designs? Is there anything that runs across each collection?
My designs are like wabi-sabi, meaning they are all unique and different in their own way. Finding beauty in imperfection is a key characteristic in this Aristeia collection. My big inspiration here was the Kyoto Gardens. No two pieces are the same and often have an (intentionally!) unfinished look.
I love bringing east and west together in my work. Style is a great way to bridge cultures. Often, people don’t even realise they’re doing it! The most important thing is that the jewellery resonates with you. I’d say that modern, elegant and bold are key elements that remain through each jewellery collection. I’m seriously loving the brass/copper shade of rose-gold at the moment! I like all my designs to have a little element of a surprise in them, so even the classic, simple designs have an unexpected touch.
What goes into the creative thought process behind your work?
My design process is very organic, I have all the packages of diamonds and stones scattered on to a surface around me and play around with them until I form a design (it sounds a bit more extravagant than it is!). This makes the process fun and interesting; plus, you never really know what you’ll end up with. To make it easier, I settle in with a glass of wine (preferably champagne – but I can’t be too picky!) and get in the mood to arrange things. After I lay out the stones, I photograph them, then decide on the setting after. The focus is always on the gems.
You know what I realised? I design best when I’m very happy or very angry. That’s probably why I feel like my pieces often have a story. I love that they have the power of telling a tale. You can tell a lot about a person by the jewellery they wear – and by the chocolate they like!
The classic question… How do you balance work/family/personal life/travel etc?
It’s tough, I must admit. It never would have been possible without a super caring, understanding and loving husband and my two daughters. Family time is the most important thing to me so I try to never be away for two weekends in a row.
It takes a lot of planning. I try to mostly book midnight flights, so I make the most of my days. I travel so much because I like to supervise the setting and finishing. If I touch the final piece and feel like something is off, we remake the entire product.
OH, and I have three triple expressos every morning…
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to busy, working women, or people looking to start their own brand?
Never forget to be a woman. Whatever that means to you. Be yourself and be proud of all that you have to offer. At the end of the day it’s you who needs to balance everything in your life, so you’re allowed to put yourself first sometimes too!
To people wanting to start their brand – follow your dream and believe in it. Don’t expect others to believe in things you don’t believe in yourself. Go out there and make it happen with passion… everything else will follow.
You’ve had some seriously influential people decked out in your designs (congratulations on Michelle Obama!). Which three were you most excited to see hit the red carpet recently?
This year has started off on a great note. It was amazing to see Michelle Obama wear our “Aristeia” ring at the Farewell Address. Following that, Tracee Ellis Ross, Beth Dover, Marcia Gay Harden and Issa Rae were spotted wearing our jewellery at red carpet events. There is nothing better than seeing such strong, beautiful ladies wearing my creations. I am humbled and grateful.
Follow her work, travels and family adventures on Instagram!