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Publication Date : 25-03-2013
There's something about jewellery designed by top celebrities that gives it extra lustre
Chiranat "Namcha" Yusanon, Ornjira "Pang" Lamvilai and Ploy Horwang have found a sparkling way to stand out in Thailand's crowded galaxy of celebrities - they design jewellery.
Singer Chiranat launched her sideline, Ahava by Namcha, in November 2012 with a collection called "Prologue". She's delighted to be calling her own shots, beyond the constraints of show-business expectations.
"Being a jewellery designer allows me to use limitless imagination," she says. "Well-known younger people have to sell more than just an image. They have to prove that they're capable of doing other things worthy of admiration."
Long an avid collector of designer jewellery, Chiranat always wanted to make her own. Her love for fashion and art led her to a graphic-design diploma at Raffles International College Thailand, and she set about creating jewellery that reflected her character.
She has a line of "comet" necklaces that can be worn on the arm or thigh as well as around the neck and over the shoulders. Each is a string of comet-like spheres, and, "with lots of comets, it creates a beautiful sound when one string hits another", she says.
Her gold, silver and crystal rings are unique too - so small that they can only be worn on the upper part of the finger.
Items from Ahava by Namcha were at first only available online via Instagram, but Chiranat now has sales counters in the Cloud 9 stores at the Gaysorn and Emporium malls. "I haven't made a lot of jewellery, so I don't earn much from it despite all the hard work, but it makes me proud, and I believe it's a good career move too."
Chiranat's second collection, "Beautiful Dirty Rich", is inspired by her idol, Marilyn Monroe, and celebrates women with confidence and aspirations.
Ornjira and her fellow-actress friends Visa Sarasas and Panjarat Sangsuwan set up Tri jewellery after agreeing that what was available on the market didn't satisfy their desires. "I like to wear lots of jewellery and I buy a lot," Ornjira says, "but I'm always looking for something different."
The debut collection appeared in August 2011. Unpolished stones and geometric shapes in sterling silver make the jewellery look chic as well as posh. The women's personalities emerge in the quirky boldness with flashes of femininity.
"The materials are very exclusive," says Ornjira. "Our designs highlight the natural form of the gems, so they turn out to be very edgy - not sweet but chic."
Onjira and her equally famous friends proved to be Tri's best models. "It was word of mouth, really. Once we started wearing the pieces, people asked where they could get them and what brand it was. It was a great advantage in terms of building up the business.
"I love that people not only like my various characters on television but also my real personality, as reflected in the jewellery design. It's been really encouraging."
Continuing to experiment in their designs with different materials, the girls behind Tri are making sure their pieces become must-have items for every jewellery box.
Meanwhile Ploy Horwang is "de-constructing" jewellery.
The established designer of clothes, bags and shoes whose partnership with Diloklap Chantanachotbutr has produced the Him and Her brand and a shop on Soi Sukhumvit 47 now has a counter at Siam Center's Selected Shop selling "vintage" handmade jewellery, 80-per-cent designed by Ploy.
"I love vintage!" she says. "When I was studying in London at Marangoni Fashion Design College I used to buy old jewellery and redo it. I often purchase different materials and craft them into a distinctive style."
Ploy says she has no particular concept or theme - the ideas come from the materials at hand - but she guarantees that no one will leave her store or counter empty-handed.
"Sometimes people tend to be fixed in their personal taste and they might think vintage just isn't for them, but I've found that when they come to my shop, they decide they like it. That's why I avoid any fixed themes. Sometimes I make one-of-a-kind pieces instead of a full line. That's part of the charm of hand-crafting."
Ploy is no slouch at salesmanship, either. They way she explains the origins of a particular kind of sunglasses is enough to convince any Him and Her browser that he has to have them.
"I used to work in a shop selling vintage sunglasses in London and it the background stories were fascinating. People love hearing about the origins of any item," she says.
Ploy says celebrities do indeed have an advantage in finding buyers for things they design themselves, but there's another side to the coin.
"Of course it's easier to promote your work, but if what you create isn't beautiful - if it simply isn't good enough - that gets noticed too." And people will certainly talk!