A batch of trailblazing emerging brands is changing the jewellery landscape, with an emphasis on new materials, conscious sourcing and innovative techniques. And while colourful, Instagram-worthy glass, plastic and enamel jewels have been captivating some of the world’s most influential young dressers, gold and silver will never not be jewellery box staples—especially for celebrity collectors.
Bella and Gigi Hadid have dabbled in candy-coloured rings by La Manso and Keane, but both have also leaned towards modern heirlooms crafted by Thai jeweller, Nok Salirathavibhaga. “My goal for the brand then was simple: for it to be an expression of myself, my stories, and my experiences,” she tells British Vogue of establishing Pattaraphan. “I knew that I had something to say, and that I best artistically expressed myself through jewellery.”
It wasn’t until she returned to Bangkok that Nok noticed a gap in the market. “People weren’t – and still sometimes aren’t – familiar with high-quality jewellery that is accessible, edgy and contemporary,” she says. “It was either expensive traditional jewellery, or mass-produced fashion jewellery.”
Non-traditional designs inspired by the designer’s Thai heritage and interpreted through her unique modern lens are at the core of her brand, and she prides herself on a genderless approach. “Although I design and make jewellery from my perspective as a woman, I don’t ever see my jewellery as entirely ‘feminine’,” she remarks. “What is important is how each piece feels on the body. I think because I also stay true to my feelings when I’m designing, people can somehow relate to them, and thus the pieces appeal to more than one group of people. And it’s just really exciting to see my jewellery on different people, styling Pattaraphan in their own unique ways.”
The word “heirloom” means something different in 2021. Millennials are as excited by novelty treasures sourced from charity shops or Depop as they might be, say, a diamond ring. For young shoppers, design, sentiment and individuality matter most.
This mindset is part of what has made Nok so popular with young celebrity jewellery fans: Zayn and Gigi have been spied in her Pressurised jewels, which mimic a soda tab, while Bella owns a Saan chain-link bracelet. Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner have both worn her Safe locket on repeat, which in addition to its visual appeal has an extra feel-good element: 10 per cent of all sales of the necklace are donated to the Baan Dek Foundation, an organisation that supports vulnerable children in education, health and safety.
Nok visits her two manufacturing locations in Bangkok at least once a week. “My jewellery is produced in small batches using beautiful craftsmanship, by local artisans who have been in the industry for decades,” she says. “To be able to continue this legacy in my designs is something that I’m really proud of. Ultimately, as much as Pattaraphan is a contemporary brand, it is authentically Thai.”