This month’s Super Styler is the beautiful and talented Marielle Byworth, the woman behind the fabulous jewellery at MARIJOLI! This Swiss-born, Hong Kong dwelling lady is the epitome of sophistication, and her creativity and vision have helped her create some of the most unique and covetable pieces of jewellery we’ve ever seen.
We chat to the elegant Marielle about what it takes to be a jewellery designer, her philosophy and influences, and her new store at PMQ…
Being a jewellery designer is not the most obvious career choice – what made you want to do it and how did you get into it?
Design was actually a natural choice for me from an early age, but there were many stops on my journey. I remember playing with my dad’s watch crystals, which he used to produce. I must have been around seven years old. After graduating from the University of Art and Design in Lausanne, I had a realisation about my affinity with delicate objects. I was living in London, sharing a place with my stepbrothers, who are both established jewellers from a London-based family that has been in the business for five generations. We spent evenings sharing our passion and they truly altered the way I saw the world. I created my first bracelet in Tokyo, just after we arrived there. This was the birth of MARIJOLI!
What is the most challenging thing about creating jewellery?
Definitely the most challenging thing is translating the ‘concept’ into a design that can be manufactured. Visualising a concept has always been easy for me, however the road to the final design can be a long one.
What truly inspires you and your upcoming collections?
Personally, it is about fusing the spirit and harmony of the Zen Philosophy into something tangible and wearable, as well as making the wearer feel sexy and stylish. I hope my clients feel this bond.
How have the different places you’ve lived in influenced your work?
Arriving in Tokyo a decade ago was the beginning – as a designer, everything around me was inspiring, and I couldn’t get enough space and time to process it all. I had to isolate myself in my Kamiyacho apartment to be able to create at first. I delved deep into my yoga practice to find my inspiration. In terms of travel, I am and will always be captivated by the ocean. I try to incorporate it in to my daily life here in Hong Kong, a beautiful island. Where I live is surrounded by the sea, and this link continues to feed my aesthetic sensibilities.
What are some of your favourite places in Hong Kong?
I love to spend time in PMQ, as it’s not just where our boutique is located, but it’s also a great hub for designers to exchange and share ideas. I’ve become friendly with many of my neighbours and I visit their shops often. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Apart from that, I like to hide in my capsule of heaven in Clear Water Bay, where I can create. I’m very stimulated by an organic environment, and a connection with nature is necessary for my design process.
Where’s next on your travel wish-list?
I still haven’t been to Cambodia, and lately everyone has been talking about Angkor Wat and the other Siem Reap temples (see our recent reviews here and here!). It would make a great family trip. Fiji seems like a good escape too, and I just heard Cathay is doing direct flights! I’m heading to Hohhot, located in Inner Mongolia, for a trade show soon. I would never have thought that I would be going to a place like that, and I wouldn’t be without the driving force of my business. It leads me to be daring and discover the world!
What advice would you give to other creative people/aspiring jewellery designers?
Start with a small project, let it grow organically. Don’t feel that your first design has to be the final product, keep trying it again and again, until you achieve something that you are proud of… that is essentially all there is to it.
Any other local Hong Kong designers you admire?
I think Wallace Chan is an absolute genius! See Sassy’s roundup of local designers here.
What excites you most about your new store at PMQ?
I’ve learned so much from having direct contact with my clients. I can see firsthand what they respond to, and I listen to their ideas when they come in looking for something that I may not offer yet. Watching them discover the collection is a thrill, and I love meeting people from many different places and backgrounds. Having a stand-alone retail store is a significant milestone for my business.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
A lot of what we do now is new individual bespoke projects. Again, it is a deeper interaction with my end client, so I prefer it. I get to translate their dreams in to reality.
What are some of your favourite pieces and why? Which materials do you like to work with most?
I do love my MASWAN necklace, as it’s a fully articulating piece – it moves like a snake. It was also my first fine jewellery piece, therefore it helped me to push myself further and retains a personal significance. In the line jewellery, I have started to go darker; using black gold and black diamonds contrasted with white crystal. People haven’t seen a lot of jewellery made with this particular combination, thus, it has become very sought after and has had a big impact on clients.
What’s the most challenging custom piece you’ve had to make?
The last ring I made for a pre-push gift was interesting, as we redid the casting three times. In the end, we had to use more advanced technology to get it right and ensure it was strong enough. All the hard work was worth it however – she loved it!
What do you love to do when you’re not creating jewellery?
I spend the entirety of my extra time with my family and friends. I take my kids for their lessons, or we relax on the beach and play in the sea. I meet friends out around town and I also love hiking and yoga. Did I mention the sea? Yes, I love the sea.
Any secret Hong Kong shopping spots you can let us in on?
I don’t really go shopping in HK, as I have no time. You will usually see me running to COS, to buy all the new season’s collections for the kids, or at Rue Madame to buy my basic T-shirts. I’m all about the accessories, shoes and bags – I do love McQueen and Italian brands like Valentino.
What advice would you give your twenty year old self?
I think I would have told myself to listen to other people’s advice. When you are 20, you think you know everything (or at least I did!), and you make some mistakes that aren’t necessary. I guess that is part of the process. It is hard to think of any real regrets, as we are always learning.
Check out the rest of our Super Stylers here!