A firm believer in culture-infused jewellery design and manufacturing, Hajime Ando weaves enchanting, meaningful narratives with his bespoke creations that capture his and his clients’ singular perspectives.
‘Take on the future in the face of coronavirus’ pendant,
Hajime Ando’s rallying cry for hope and fortitude during the pandemic
‘Passage to my heart’ pendants that take design inspiration from keyholes in historic European buildings
Rings from the Snake Collection
Hajime Ando’s redesign of a client’s engagement ring,
alluding to her surname ‘Vogel’ or bird in German
This article first appeared in the JNA September/ October 2020 issue.
Hajime Ando is a citizen of the world. Born in Japan, he flourished in Rome, Italy as one of Bulgari’s top designers for 10 years from 2005. He then switched gears to impart his knowledge and experience to the next generation of talents. For three years, he taught jewellery design at a Japanese university before establishing short workshops in Bangkok, Thailand. Ando also focuses on his jewellery brand, Angioie, and runs a bespoke jewellery design service that celebrates the life and personality of his clients. In his teachings as in his professional life, Ando stresses the indelible relationship between the designer and his surroundings. His creations carry traces of his multicultural experience, melding influences from Japan, Italy and Thailand. In this interview, he shares with JNA the main takeaways from his three-decade journey in jewellery design.
How does your international background influence your approach to jewellery design and manufacturing?
Hajime Ando: Sourcing for gemstones and working with artisanal bench jewellers are an extremely enjoyable part of my creative process. The design of the piece determines where I choose to have it created.
Italy, Japan and Thailand are very different in terms of landscape, history, culture and motifs. The bench jewellers in these three countries are just as varied and distinctive in their styles. I select the manufacturing base depending on the essence and processes best suited for the jewellery piece.
Cultural influences manifest themselves in the works of the artisans by dictating how they express and depict certain concepts. When I give the specifics of my design to the bench jeweller, I do not fully impose my interpretation or preference on them. Around 60 per cent of the design is left to their senses and perceptions to create a piece faithful to my concept yet imbued with the culture of the country where it is produced.
Jewellery does not have to follow a renowned brand’s style. I hope my designs both reflect and elicit the subtle nuances of cultural distinctions.
Why did you choose to also establish a business in Thailand?
Ando: Due to the nature of my work, I need to know the market well. It is important to keep track of the trends, the prices of gemstones, and the latest technological advances in manufacturing. In Thailand, you have access to the latest information and a competitive marketplace for an expansive range of coloured gemstones. The country also boasts a large pool of highly skilled craftsmen who can transform your design concept into wearable jewellery pieces.
Can you share details of your bespoke design service to refresh your clients’ jewellery pieces?
Ando: Private clients usually have a special emotional attachment to their jewellery. These often have sentimental value. Given the current economic downturn, refreshing old jewellery pieces is a savvy move for consumers.
Catering to their needs fills me with a deep sense of satisfaction. When you work for a jewellery brand, you design in accordance to its profile and aesthetics. But when you design for a private client, you must reflect and celebrate their personality and life. You should really see and understand the individual. The jewellery piece should mirror their nature and their world.
What jewellery trends have emerged amid the Covid-19 pandemic?
Ando: The Covid-19 pandemic wrought profound changes to lifestyles and consumption habits. The ensuing behavioural shifts have tremendous implications on design trends.
People cherish life more. Demand for mass-produced, generic jewellery without a point of view is likely to fall. Affordable luxury pieces that express personal sentiments, including talismans and charms, will appeal to the younger generation of consumers. The market will increasingly gravitate towards designs that represent the wearer’s life, relationships, connections, identity and experience.