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News & Highlight


  • Jathan Fong (middle) aspires to popularise metalsmithing
  • Soldering joins metals together
  • Forging is one of the oldest known metalsmithing processes
  • Life Waves necklace
  • Button pearl ring from Jathan Jewellery
  • Button pearl earrings from Jathan Jewellery
  • Gemstone necklace with matching earrings from Jathan Fong
  • Silver jewellery in floral motif from Jathan Fong
  • The Art of Metalsmithing

“If I can, so can you”

February 2021

Loupe designers-in-residence series


Those were the days when metalsmithing for jewellery was an intricate technique under the mentoring system strictly observed by the master metalsmiths and the associated apprentices. People from outside of the system could scarcely ever get a hand or a glimpse on the skill. Deeply impressed by traditional metalsmithing craftsmanship, Jathan Fong from Hong Kong has aspired to give mass-market appeal to the cherished skills in the belief that “if I can do it, so can you”.

Jathan Fong and her partner established a jewellery-making workshop Back Column Hit Gold in 2018. The name is a literal translation of its Chinese “後欄打金” which means “hammering gold in the backyard”, prompting a laid-back attitude of making jewellery ourselves.

In sessions spanning two to three-and-a-half hours, participants are guided to create their own rings, bracelets or pendants in silver, copper or brass from scratch. They will acquire basic-yet-essential skills in metalsmithing including understanding and using tools, cutting different shapes from a metal sheet, making patterns and textures with hammers, filing, bending, annealing, soldering, polishing, etc. “We aspire to tell people that metalsmithing is not something unachievable by laymen. If I can do it, so can you,” Fong said.

She believes that when people try out something new, move out of their comfort zone, they are filled with vigour, excitement and self-confidence. “Everybody can finish making the jewellery in the class. It proves that metalsmithing is not only for professionals. It is also for everyone,” she added.

Reaching out to something new brings us new memories. “People come for a new experience in pairs or with friends which ends up to be a collective memory in their lives. Memory is personal and unique. It is particularly cherished in difficult times when we can spend a moment exploring a new world with someone we love. That is the experience we would remember by heart,” Fong said. The glowing smile on the faces of the participants when seeing the finished jewellery comes as the best reward for her.

Her determination to popularise metalsmithing in Hong Kong has gone a step further by launching a book titled The Art of Metalsmithing in 2020. “As far as I know, there was a lack of an easy reference guide on metalsmithing for everyone in Hong Kong. The more mysterious the art is, the more likely it will disappear. The book is meant to break open the secret world of metalsmithing, and let more people indulge in the extraordinary world of jewellery making,” she said.

Aspiring to transform the hard-to-understand metalsmithing into something easy-to-do for everyone, the 120-page book with delightful illustration gives a comprehensive account of metalsmithing tools, metal types, and basic metalsmithing techniques. The benchwork section delivers a hands-on guide to making jewellery with popular design.

It seems to be a natural pursuit for a jewellery-making enthusiast to start a jewellery brand. Jathan Fong launched her own brand Jathan Jewellery in late 2019, providing followers with uncomplicated, understated contemporary classics that boosts their inner strength and confidence. Her jewellery is mostly seen in silver, some gold-plated, with cultured pearls or natural gemstones.

“Dazzling jewellery is extensively available in the market; but only a few empower people to restore the balance of life,” said Fong. “Jewellery carries an intrinsic emotional value. While most of the brands are meant for celebrating happiness, mine hankers to connect to our true self.”

An early design from her, the sleek ‘Life Waves’ necklace featuring uneven contours reminds people to perceive the coexistence of ups and downs in life. “The indented layout of the design bears the resemblance to the many vicissitudes in our lives. When you feel depressed, take a look at the troughs on the necklace which are always followed by a peak. Be confident, be positive, everything is going to be fine. I hope my design can inspire people to attain the balance of life,” Fong said.

In a bid to take her metalsmithing knowhow to the next level, she enrolled in Loupe's Design Residency Programme in 2019. Under the mentoring scheme, designers have the privilege to acquire a comprehensive knowledge in jewellery business operation from industry veterans from Chow Tai Fook Jewellery. For Jathan Fong, the unreserved sharing and mentoring from the master craftsmen is among the most treasured parts of the programme.

“It is difficult for young or fresh jewellery designers in Hong Kong to delve deeper into metalsmithing and jewellery making. Loupe has given us such an unparallel advantage to learn directly from industry experts. The knowledge and skills we gained are beyond comparison to those available online. The visit to Chow Tai Fook’s factory and the participation in a jewellery fair in Shunde, mainland China, were particularly enlightening and rewarding,” Fong said.

As for the growth of her own brand, Jathan Fong would rather take a more pragmatic approach than draw up a long-term plan especially at this confused time. Quite contrary to others, she started with brick-and-mortar stores including HKTDC Design Gallery and Loupe at PMQ before going digital. Though riding the digital wave is the order of the day, she said she needs to brush up on her online marketing and promotion skills. “I am quite reserved in terms of publicity, just updating my Instagram every now and then. I need to be actively engaged in social media like other Loupe buddies are.”

Before the interview ended, Jathan Fong shared a heart-felt story with us: “Once a guy came to order a custom-made ring. One day I got a wedding photo from him, on the finger of the bribe there sat the ring I made. It was such a stirring moment when I came to know that I could have a place in people’s life. They came to me to commemorate some of the most important occasions in life. Their trust in me has fuelled my determination to exert myself to create jewellery with meanings and pass on the knowledge of metalsmithing to a wider audience.” (Photo courtesy: Jathan Jewellery)



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