Artisanal Jewellery Designer
Defining Her Style
Meet Catherine Preston, a jewellery designer in Hong Kong and a mother of three. She did not start out this way, in fact she only entered the jewellery industry in 2012. Twenty years ago, Catherine started off as a Law and French graduate, and with that she followed her husband to Kuala Lumpur.
Upon arriving in a foreign culture, Catherine realised that things were not going to pan out the way she had thought. “Malaysia was not a natural fit for my professional skills but the experience gave me something far more meaningful than a salaried job - the opportunity to explore my passion for art.” After spending two years taking classes in oil and watercolour painting, printmaking and figure drawing, “I knew I had found my true creative path.”
Renewing The Sparkle
Prior to starting her jewellery design business in Hong Kong, Catherine spent six years in Singapore where she was an English and Art teacher. With her eyes now opened to the world of art, she decided to pursue her passion for jewellery. “I like taking old pieces of jewellery, giving them a new lease of life. For example, taking the stones from an old piece that I would never wear and making something new with them.”
Being the true artist that Catherine is, she wanted more from herself, to be able to draw the ideas she was inspired by in order to help make them a reality. With that desire, she started on a search for a course in jewellery rendering.
Starting Off Right
It all started when she was visiting a friend in Bangkok while searching for silver beads, lo and behold, her friend recommended that she get in touch with his friend, Tanja Sadow, who also happens to be the principal of Jewellery Design and Management International School (JDMIS) in Singapore.
JDMIS was top on Catherine’s list in term of courses offered and one thing that she loved about JDMIS was the modular courses and flexibility. “Rather than having to embark on a full-time two year diploma course which would not have fitted around my job as a teacher, I could do one module at a time and build up an all-round knowledge of the industry but with emphasis on the elements I was most interested in.” With that being said, she went on to enrol in JDMIS.
Since arming herself with the knowledge she gained from JDMIS, a metamorphosis took place, Catherine became the ambitious designer. “I wanted to run my own business and pursue something I am passionate about. I love the fact that now I get to be involved in every aspect of the business from designing new pieces to marketing and sales.”
Though Catherine has only been in the industry for two years, she has an idea of what a successful designer should be and is working towards it. “To be a successful designer you have to have good imagination and the skill to translate an image in your mind’s eye into something that can be crafted using metal and gemstones.” That alone is not enough though, she also adds that understanding how gemstones are cut and the different ways that they could be set is important.
Catherine also insists that one should look to further their knowledge through courses akin to the ones that JDMIS have. Unfortunately for her, she is unable to find a school as such in Hong Kong where she currently resides, nonetheless, Catherine makes full use of modern technology and quenches her thirst for knowledge by staying in touch with JDMIS.
Last but not least, she insists that if one wants to be recognised, one must have a common theme or style that will distinctively unite their designs. Ultimately, it comes down to what motivates an individual to design in the first place, and to be able to express it to the world. Spoken like a true designer!
Talented designers all draw inspirations from somewhere, Catherine is no different, “I am mostly inspired by nature. I love the way polished metal can imitate the flow of water for example or the sparkle of a gem can evoke the sunlight on water.” Even the iridescent blue of the body of a dragonfly is inspirational to Catherine when it comes to choosing gemstone colors to work with.
Old Sketch, New Life
Catherine faces a creative block at times, but simply because she is on the path she is destined to be on, the universe lends a helping hand and it goes away quickly. “I am very lucky in that even when I think I have no new ideas, I will suddenly remember something or find an old sketch that I had forgotten about and it will start a whole new process.” Perhaps one should think twice before discarding their old sketches, what might not be right for this minute could be the right one in the future.
Words Of Wisdom
“Define your own style and allow it to come through whatever it is you are designing.”
About Catherine Preston designs