jewellery & product designer
Location: Hong Kong
“Jewellery should be appreciated and owned by not only the noble ones, but also every single family from different levels of society.”
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How long does it take to create a piece?
It can take weeks, months, and even years to create a piece, depending on the design and its complexity, as well as collecting the perfect stones for the execution. Usually for bangles/bracelets it may take up to a year for the final products to release.
What’s your process from start to finish?
It all starts from drawing (If you may wonder, I draw all my pieces by hand), simultaneously looking for matching gemstones. After having the sketch, it will be stones assorting for the pieces. Followed by wax carving. Then I will send them to my goldsmiths for gold casting, polishing, and stone-setting etc. I will also be overseeing quality control of all my pieces to ensure they are all up to my expectations.
How did you start designing for Wendy Yue?
Before I established my own brand, I worked for several jewelry brands, but I always wanted to work for ODM Jewelry Manufacturers. I knew that Wendy Yue could be a great opportunity for me working as a designer due to her popularity in creating one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and meticulous workmanship. I sent Wendy a self-recommendation proposal and I am glad that Wendy appreciated my designs and my art sense, that I was hired without even going through the interview processes.
What is your most expensive piece that you designed?
The most expensive piece I have designed is a 18K Gold Necklace with Unheated Pigeon-blood Rubies. The main stone is more than 12 carats, and the rest of the rubies are 8 carats each. That was a few years ago and currently the necklace could be worth more than US$7 million.
Why did you decide to be a jewelry designer?
I am always fascinated with gemstones and wearing jewelry. I would always spend a lot treasure-hunting gemstones that I like. But I did not want to be a jewelry designer in the beginning. When I was in pursuit of education, I wanted to be a fashion designer originally. But due to the competitiveness of Fashion Design courses, I was not able to get into one. I ended up attending gemstone setting courses and eventually a Product Design Diploma. One of the mentors in Product Design really liked my drawing and, coincidentally, he referred me to work as an intern for jewelry design in UJDC (Universal Jewellery Design Center Limited), which has paved my way of becoming a jewelry designer.
What is your favorite piece?
Frankly speaking, I cannot choose one because each collection is unique, special and important to me. All of the pieces originate from my visual diary, which is a sketchbook I use to record everything I like and I have seen. For example, if I see a very beautiful orchid in the flower market, or an impressive Mandala, maybe even a special animal/myth that I have read in a book, I will draw them in this visual diary. And these sketches turn into my jewelry pieces. So, each piece is like my memories, my past and my life, which is very meaningful to me.
What are your favorite gemstones and why?
Blue Tourmaline (Indicolite) and Emerald. Because both gemstones, to me, are very mythical. Indicolite’s blue color (Indigo color) is meaningful in Tibetan Buddhism. And Emeralds were involved in Egyptian and Jewish mythology.
What inspires your designs?
Religions, cultures, and nature. My inspirations mostly come from Mother Nature. The shapes and forms of my drawing are also inspired by nature, like fire, water, wind, wood, etc. I am also interested in reading and researching about religions and cultures. I am particularly into Tibetan Buddhism. Its Thangkas and Mandalas are the main inspirations for psychedelic patterns. The use of different colors and patterns in my jewelry are similar to those seen in Thangkas and Mandalas. Therefore, a lot of my designs are incorporated with these elements.
Any special awards you have received by the jewelry industry?
While pursuing my education, I took part in several design competitions. I was the champion in a competition organized by Oregon Scientific and Ferrari. I also received awards in fine jewelry and fashion competitions organized by Adler Switzerland and Grosse Germany. After founding my own company, I solely focus on designing to bring people eye-opening, exclusive, museum-grade, yet affordable, wearable art pieces.
For more information, please visit: austyleeartjewellery.com
Austy, born and raised in Hong Kong, is a high-end jewellery designer with almost 20 years of experiences in the industry. He is well known for his excellent workmanship, design themes and the usage of rare gemstones. He is also passionate about changing the world with his unique and fashion-forward pieces of jewellery.
Since childhood, Austy has always been interested in art, design, fashion and history. He started his design journey working as a graphic designer and illustrator in a local magazine in 2003. To further broaden his design perspectives, and mostly out of curiosities, he decided to obtain a diploma of Product Design, learning about gemstones’ settings, metal hand-chiseling etc. He also learned a lot about bone-teeth and jade carvings, artefacts and antique restorations from his uncle, who is a very experienced artisan. Because of his outstanding drawing and design techniques, he was offered an opportunity to work as a jewellery design trainee in Adler Jewellery in Hong Kong. With his product design knowledge, he has very strong senses in 3D rendering, material usage and functional application, which hugely benefits him in paving his way as a designer and a jeweller.
While pursuing his education, Austy participated in a number of national and international design competitions. He was the champion in a competition organised by Oregon Scientific. He designed an embryonic form of the future invention of X game products. Other than that, he was also awarded in fine jewellery and fashion competitions by Adler Switzerland and Grosse Germany.
The working experiences in Adler Jewellery trained Austy to be a fine jewellery designer and a professional gemstone buyer. It offered him a chance to work with high-end clients and to design high-end jewelleries with rare gemstones and materials. Later in his career, he was the Chief Designer for Wendy Yue. His designs are worn by many Hollywood and international celebrities and famous people around the world. His works have also been published in many international magazines, websites and blogs. They are also sold in the world’s most exclusive boutiques and department stores in Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, London, Paris, Germany, Switzerland, Milan, Greece, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
Austy launched his own brand of fine jewellery collections and his very first design studio in April 2017, with the theme of “When Jewellery is Psychedelic Art”. Austy’s works involve a lot about psychedelic patterns. His imaginations of jewellery are based on religions, new age, graphic and fashion. His styles are industrial, pop-punk, edgy, strict, bold, cultural, sexual current, contemporary, symbolic and colourful. He likes to apply in his creations with a lot of colourful and rare gemstones and carved/engraved materials, such as Sphene, Paraiba, Padparadscha, Star Sapphire, Indigolite, Pink Diamonds and different colours of Jades.
In Spring 2017, Austy was invited by Hong Kong Baptist University to be a part-time lecturer of Jewelry Design. Despite of his growing businesses, Austy’s passion towards designing, crafting and teaching has never changed – goes even stronger. His level of involvement and acute design instinct are reflected in his designs.