By Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Juan Lau Wordsworth is one of many up-and-coming prolific jewellery designers who found themselves in the jewellery business by accident. In this interview, she talks about her journey to the creative realm and her design philosophy, as well as her love affair with flowers – an enduring inspiration in her collections.
Juan Lau Wordsworth’s fortuitous career as a jewellery designer was sparked by a seemingly mundane hobby – collecting gemstones. She eventually found herself making use of her prized collections to design jewellery pieces for herself.
Friends, however, started noticing her bespoke creations, which stood out because of their one-of-a-kind themes and vivid hues, and requested pieces to be customised for them. She hasn’t stopped designing since.
JNA: Why are you in the jewellery design business?
Juan Lau Wordsworth: I started collecting gemstones for my two daughters for when they get married but they were just far too young at the time. Armed with a stash of gemstones, I thought of making my own jewellery and eventually designing for friends. That’s how the business started. It was totally unexpected. In 2014, I decided to take a Graduate Gemologist course at the Gemological Institute of America.
JNA: It’s important for a designer to have her own style, and express what she wants in a certain piece of jewellery. How would you describe your designs?
Wordsworth: I design pieces that I like and would personally wear. When I was younger, I practised Chinese painting so my designs gravitate towards that style. I developed my creative philosophy from there. A recurring theme in my designs are flowers and movements. I also draw inspiration from tea and the art of tea preparation. I’m a Chinese tea teacher so teapots, utensils and tea patterns are staple motifs in my work.
My latest collection was inspired by the Sakura, the famous Japanese cherry blossom. I also have a Lotus Flower Collection, which is all in red. Another signature piece of mine is the lantern. I’ve designed four lantern-inspired pieces so far. I’m planning to do one lantern design a year.
JNA: Which gemstones figure a lot in your work?
Wordsworth: I use a great deal of tourmalines because they are colourful. I’m also partial to aquamarines, tanzanites, yellow diamonds, jade and other high-end coloured gemstones. Everything is in 18-karat gold but I also have pieces in black gold. I use a lot of black in my pieces to mimic the beauty and mysterious appeal of Chinese paintings.
JNA: Do you replicate your designs?
Wordsworth: I try to make one bespoke design for a single client. At the moment, I don’t have a huge client base. If I design one piece and someone asks for the same design, and the friend I first sold it to doesn’t mind, then I can reproduce it. But of course it’s based on the availability of the stone. I will also try to make the design a bit different and not an exact replica of the first piece.
JNA: It’s a promising start for you as a jewellery designer. You have an eye for beauty.
Wordsworth: Thank you. The important thing is I’m having fun. At my age, starting a business sounds a bit too late, but I’m enjoying myself. My daughters are helping me. I take pleasure in combining classic Chinese art with modern styles through bright, colourful and whimsical pieces. My designs can be worn casually with jeans.
I’m constantly inspired by positive feedback from my buyers. In fact, I already have a few ideas for new collections that I could work on. A friend called me earlier and asked me to design a brooch for her that I sold last year. She regrets not buying it. It amazed me because it’s been a year and she’s still thinking about it. I’m happy because it means people genuinely like my designs.
All jewellery designs by Juan Lau Wordsworth