Interview for Kee Club Magazine

1. Your jewelry caught my eye at the Liberatum Arts Festival when you were wearing a simple necklace and bracelet.  You mentioned that you started production because so many people liked the pieces you created as gifts for your friends. Can you tell me how you turned the idea of Marijoli jewelry into reality?

As you mentioned, I was already producing the pieces for myself as I struggled to find jewellery that I really adored and were affordable. So it was really a case of scalability; and therefore finding a production partner that I could trust. I worked with factories in Japan initially, but surprisingly it was a challenge to achieve the level of quality that I needed with Japanese producers. I then used a family contact to launch production with a factory in Thailand. Once production was organized I set about trying to grow the brand recognition, I did a series of launch parties in Japan with other designers I respected, and worked with Miss Universe Japan, as a stylist…. [smiling] Obviously my jewellery was always top of my recommendations… 

2. You were born and educated in Switzerland and moved to Japan to start your atelier in 2005 where the brand Marijoli was created.  You are also a tremendous traveler and avid diver.  What influenced you to relocate to Japan and how have your travels and diving experiences shaped your jewelry?

Japan was an opportunity offered to my husband with his work. He wasn’t keen, but I motivated him to go as it felt somehow part of our destiny to be there. We married late and moving to Japan meant that we were able to start afresh as a new couple. When I arrived I worked out of our apartment which had an amazing view of Mount Fuji and the Tokyo skyline. I also started training to be a yoga instructor. As a result, my first work was very zen and the theme of simplicity has been maintained throughout my later creations. Diving became a part of my life on our honeymoon in the Maldives and later in Palau which is one of the seven wonders of the diving world. The underwater world had a large influence on what I did, as I drew on natures wonderful and basic architecture witnessed in much of the plant life, particularly coral.

4. What are your favorite materials to work with?

A stone is always a very personal thing, and I really enjoy working with clients to find the stone that ‘speaks’ to them when working on bespoke pieces.

5. Can you tell me the secret of modern elegance?

Good question! It’s something we are all after and it’s my goal to always observe and stay close to my customers and find out what makes them shine. There is no general answer to this question, but we all have the potential for it in our own individual way. [Eyes lighting up] I can help you find  it.

6. You aim to work on materials that can be recycled and not re-sold.  Sustainability issues seem to be at the forefront of the media today; can you discuss your views on this in regards to the jewelry industry?

 The industry has always been fond of recycling. Obviously that will always be the case with high value base materials. Gold mining and Diamond mining come with environmental and social problems, but even if everybody in jewellery production aimed to use recycled products, that would not stop the mining of gold and Diamonds. On a positive note, on a few occasions, I have had someone come to me with something that has sentimental value, but is not to their taste asking that I create something new for them using the components.

7. Many of your designs feature a coral style pattern that captures negative space.  Did you learn this method during your studies at University of Art and Design Lausanne in Switzerland, or did you develop it in Japan?

My degree gave me a base that I could build and evolve from, I like to think that I retain the practicality of industrial design in all of my work.

 11. Jewelry is passed down from generation to generation, and the most treasured pieces have often been inherited from loved ones.  Can you give me some insight into how you feel having a child will affect both your work and your collection?

The new trend is ‘push gifts’. A natural evolution of the inheritance process will be a passing on of the push gift to the relevant child. I don’t think having a child will much affect my designs, essentially I try to achieve a balance of elegance with modern style, so fashion and its evolution are very important.

12. You’re pieces are very personal, however with celebrities such as Madonna and Kate Moss wearing your designs sometimes it is hard to retain this.  How do you plan to preserve the private aura of your jewelry?

I have two lines. Marijoli which is what you find on our online boutique principally made of sterling silver and plated in either gold or rhodium and produced in larger quantities while Marielle Byworth is the brand for masterpieces and bespoke work. MB is the ‘fine jewelry’ line and is only available on private order. In that way we can individualize and preserve the aura of our creation.

13. Marijoli designs cater to many different markets.  In your opinion what is the biggest difference between Asian and European consumers of your designs?

 I would say that is not a big difference for us as we tend to reach a certain type of clients that have the same taste and habit and lifestyle. The brand is for girls with individual style, and the confidence to wear it.

14. The 9th Muse is very similar to your brand, modern yet elegant at the same time.  It is a fabulous platform for jewelers to showcase and sell their designs.  How were you first introduced to Jing and Charlotte from the company?

I heard of the shop while ago before it opened from a friend of Charlotte called Piecco Pang and then I met Jing at a private party. We had a quick chat and met again in their shop…We clicked and decided to give it a try for this summer.

15. You mentioned that you would like to extend the collection to bags, belts and accessories.  Are there any designs in the works?

I used to do a lot of collaboration in the past with fashion designers, and artists. One of particular prominence was the swimwear collection branded Ma&Ma which was a way for me to experiment with different mediums and widen my offering. Since moving to Hong Kong I have refocused on jewellery, as I think there is so much to do in it and I want to give our beautiful women a chance to shine

16. What is next for the Marijoli brand?

Most likely a branded shop front, or at least a studio with a show room. Location is difficult though as I need to be able to disconnect from the intense energy of Hong Kong.

Images by Lucy Mc Nally
Words by Dervla Louli

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