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  • Vida brass cuff with green agate
  • Solar Fine‘Saturn’ring
  • Libellula collection jewellery
  • Vida citrine drop earrings

Jewellery for good

By Cynthia Unninayar 

Treading lightly on the earth for 10 years, Hong Kong-based eco-chic jewellery label Niin marked the important milestone by launching the Vida collection to pay tribute to Mother Nature. Founder and creative director Jeanine Hsu reviews the landmarks in the evolution of her brand over the last decade with Hong Kong Jewellery, and where she will aspire to bring her sustainable and ethical business to.

The biggest collection consisting of 30 items, Vida was inspired by the cork forests in Portugal where Jeanine Hsu had a yoga retreat for a week in late 2019. Vida means “life” in Portuguese. The enchanting trip to Portugal came as a chance for the designer to take a fresh look at life. “Every nine years the outer bark of cork trees is stripped for regeneration. In the process of which they absorb up to five times more carbon dioxide. Being immersed myself around the cork trees, I realised that we need to strip away the things that no longer serve us, including negative emotions, make rooms for new possibilities before we can move forward,” she said.

In a bid to honour the elements of life, the Vida collection uses upcycled whitewood and repurposed Tiger Kamagong wood to represent the earth, upcycled abalone shell to echo the flow of water, and brass and gold-plated sterling silver to reflect the light of fire. To pay homage to cork trees, the designer uses the exterior of the abalone shell to give some of the collection pieces a rough and textured look. Natural crystals such as amazonite, smoky quartz, agate and citrine are also used to balance our energies and promote spiritual growth, Hsu said.

Since autumn 2011, Hong Kong Jewellery has been witnessing the sustainable evolution of Niin. Over the last decade, the brand has launched over 20 collections with unique styles and stories breathing positive energies while reminding us of the responsibility to preserve our lovely planet.

“Our trademark line ‘Treading lightly on the earth’ still remains through and through. I think the words describe how we are doing, what we are doing, what materials we are using, and whom we are working with. We always keep the environment and ethical issues in mind. The market of sustainable jewellery is definitely on the up.

There is a need for it. Quite soon people will start to question what they are buying. The more and more we know, the harder and harder we ignore,” Hsu said.

Besides her signature organic and chunky designs in Eska, Ikigai and Yin set in silver or brass with natural stones and upscale materials, she also collaborated with Austrian fine jewellery house Aenea Jewellery to introduce the Alaria collection in 2017, featuring palladium jewellery set with rainbow moonstones, diamonds and precious stones. In March 2019, the designer took a bold step to venture into laboratory-grown diamond jewellery with the Solar Fine collection set in 18-karat yellow gold with white diamonds, lab-grown yellow diamonds from Gemesis, black spinels and MOP.

“The lab-grown collection sells better than we thought. We are planning to do a new collection in March 2020 with Gemesis again. It involves more colours, not just black, yellow and white,” she unveils.

A remarkable female entrepreneur cum sustainability advocate, Jeanine Hsu was awarded the Eco-Warrior Award at the HKAHF Women of Hope Awards 2017 and was nominated as a Generation T by Asia Tatler in 2018. She has been also invited to share her design and business insights with students of local universities and design institutes.

Manufactured in Hong Kong, Thailand, the Mainland and the Philippines, Niin’s jewellery is currently available in 15 countries and regions, including mainland China. “We made our debut presence at the fashion week in Shanghai last year. It was well-received. There were a lot of flocking in our stand. It was interesting to see the scale of what China really is, and opened my eye to more possibilities of doing business with the Mainland,” she said.

Besides reaching out to more cities in mainland China, her prior tasks for 2020 include the opening of a vocational training school in Cebu of the Philippines in collaboration with the Austrian government, as well as strengthening brand awareness via social media.

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