Austy Lee unleashes electrifying jewels from Hong Kong

Austy Lee, a former graphic designer based in Hong Kong, is on a mission to create a bold jewellery path using a rich colour palette and sculptural forms. 

The Blue Morpho earrings from Austy Lee

Against a backdrop of orchids and lush plants combined with Zen and Art Deco elements, visitors feel as if they have stepped into a botanical garden in Austy Lee’s design studio and boutique in Central, Hong Kong. 

 

Hong Kong based jewellery designer Austy Lee started his career at Adler in Switzerland after his graduation. He set up his own brand in April 2017 with the launch of his first collection called “When Jewelry is Psychedelic Art”

 

Green is everywhere and Lee’s creations explode with colour, particularly emerald hues. Which makes sense because the former graphic designer, who launched his brand in 2017, grew up in the hilly green belt of Tsing Yi, an island and transport hub in Hong Kong’s New Territories, once a site of farmers, fishermen, junks and stilt houses. In fact in a Ming Dynasty government document the waters of the island are poetically referred to as the ocean of spring flowers. 

The Green Chrysanthemum brooch from Austy Lee
The Green Chrysanthemum brooch from Austy Lee with Burmese green jades and white diamonds.

‘I hope to create something completely different with my work,’ says Lee who seeks to rock the tranquility boat with complex new techniques and materials. His sculptural feats are bolstered by a saturated palette and unusual gem choices like star sapphires that exhibit a special optical phenomenon called asterism, a six-ray star pattern. Favourite materials include 18 carat gold coated in enamel as well as a special rhodium plating that offers a rainbow of colour choices (above). His exotic array of gemstones ranges from blue to padparadscha sapphires, carved jade, onyx, lapis lazuli, blue tourmaline, sphene, Paraiba tourmalines and pink diamonds. 

The Screen of Jadietes earrings from Austy Lee
The Screen of Jadeites earrings from Austy Lee with Burmese green and white jade, Australian black opal, tsvarites and white diamonds.

Lee pursued product design at the Hong Kong Design Institute, a creative incubator whose alumni include next generation names like Aries Sin, founder of genderless fashion label Modement, and Comma Leung of Mosi Mosi, a creator of wallets for blind people. The 38-year-old loves modern art but his uncle has instilled in him an appreciation of jade carving and antiques restoration. He has also worked for the Swiss jeweller Adler in Hong Kong and local jeweller Wendy Yue.

Eastern religions infuse Lee’s designs.  ‘I like the Indian and native cultures, including some Hindi patterns and religious ideas, as well as old Egyptian styles,’ Lee explains. ‘Symmetrical and radiation patterns always appear in my jewellery.’

Lee’s Indigoing Garuda ring pays homage to the protector garuda bird motif that is part of the state insignia of India and also seen in Indonesian symbology. The yellow gold ring (below) features Brazilian mint-green tourmalines, Fancy yellow diamonds, tsavorites and champagne diamonds.

Indigoing Garuda ring from Austy Lee
Indigoing Garuda ring from Austy Lee with Brazilian mint-green tourmalines, fancy yellow diamonds, tsavorites and champagne diamonds.

However, his favourite place to seek beauty is an island further afield than the Indian subcontinent: Mykonos in Greece.  ‘I admire the local Mykonos people as well as the landscape.’ says Lee. ‘I used to work and live there for a few years when I was involved in the villa business, which has given me a lot a memories and inspiration.’ Lee maintains a work studio on the Aegean haven.

Lately Lee has been learning about the folklore of Scandinavia. His next collection has been informed by North Europe including the Viking culture and Iceland. The fairy tales of Ireland and Scotland will also weave through the pieces.

The Blue Morpho earrings from Austy Lee
The Blue Morpho earrings from Austy Lee with colour rhodium blue gold with opals, rubies, blue sapphires, and white diamonds.

Back in Hong Kong, Lee admits he likes to challenge his craftsmen. ‘I work closely with my workshop and I have known the owner for more than 10 years,’ says Lee. ‘It is located across street, which makes our communication easier and efficient. Arguments from time to time actually inspire new ideas and creation,’ he adds smiling. ‘It’s not quarreling but I always request highly detailed elements in my jewellery, so there’s a lot of discussion to achieve my requests.’

Austy Lee's flagship stores is at: Shop A, G/F, Kam On Building, 176 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong and can be found in London at Harrods and Harvey Nichols. 

 

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