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Jewellery design combines passion with keen fashion sense

The glitz and glamour of gemstones inspired Wallace Chan to become a jewellery designer at Rio Pearl, located in Tsim Sha Tsui. Before that, he worked as a jewellery salesman. 

After completing an advanced diploma in jewellery design at Hong Kong's Design First institute, Chan felt he was ready to step into the industry.

He says he had to start from the bottom, doing clerical work and then sales. This experience introduced him to different gemstones, as well as customer preferences.

"A successful designer should have a passion for jewellery design. If you don't enjoy your job, there is no way you will push yourself to do better."

Chan says pearl is one of his favourite materials, and that he considers his creations as pieces of art.

Aside from passion, he says, an aspiring designer should have fashion sense, be able to come up with original ideas and have some knowledge of production and raw materials. He must be familiar with software used in the trade, such as jewellery computer-aided design programs, he adds.

Designers get inspiration from various sources, including books, websites, magazines and what they see on the streets. They make draft sketches, and they can start working on the piece only after the approval of the team leader, Chan says.

Sometimes buyers want something custom-made. "I communicate closely with them to make sure I deliver what they want," Chan says, adding that he also has to work closely with the production team to see to it that any modification specified by the client is done right.

Jewellery designers usually start off as trainees with a salary of around HK$8,000 a month. They can be promoted to designer after two to three years, and receive HK$10,000 to HK$18,000. Senior designers make more than HK$30,000.

The Hong Kong Management Association collaborates with the Hong Kong Jewellery and Jade Manufacturers Association to offer a professional diploma in jewellery design. It is a part-time study that takes 10 months to complete.

Form Five graduates are eligible to apply.