Tech-savvy jewelry designer sets sights on the Bay Area

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Elaine Shiu, chief brand officer of Ejj Jewelry, usually draws flashes of inspiration for new jewelry design whenever she’s in the air en route to her factory in Italy.

With her mobile phone in airplane mode and no other distraction standing in the way, the 12-ish flight hours — more often than not — offer her perfect conditions for coming up with dashing models for new art pieces.

Flying in the face of an industry where consumers, especially in Hong Kong, tend to be conservative when it comes to innovation and stick to their own cup of tea all the time, Shiu’s designing talent has shifted to somewhere more broad-minded as she has spotted another market just north of the Hong Kong boundary — the nine-city cluster that, together with Hong Kong and Macao, makes up the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

As southern China’s economic powerhouse, the Bay Area, with its burgeoning economy and a total population of about 70 million, boasts tremendous market potential that remains untapped for EJJ.

Shiu says consumers on the Chinese mainland value and chase new jewelry designs, and are more open-minded to new technology such as 3D printing, while prices seem to be no big deal to them.

Unperturbed by traditional taboos in Hong Kong’s market, Shiu can test the waters with various patterns and models in the Bay Area cities on the mainland, including fashionable Dongguan.

At the same time, Ejj’s products are not only delicately designed, but also technology-driven, as a certain chunk of them are made in Italy and produced with mature 3D printing technology.

It’s a bold move in the industry as many traditional consumers tend to be skeptical about the reliability of the technology and the production process and what the products are made of. Yet, they’re warmly embraced by consumers in the Bay Area as many of Ejj’s customers think highly of the new technology application, according to Shiu, who believes that 3D printing is a future trend in jewelry design.

The icing on the cake for Ejj is that the design spearheaded by Shiu merges features of East and West.

As “Peyton” — one artifact of such kind designed by Shiu — was inspired by the walls of China’s Forbidden City and, through Italian 3D printing technology, a Chinese knot model was forged. The golden walls carry ancient meanings, and the contrasting vivid blue background culminates in a fashionable and trendy product combining traditional Chinese and modern culture.

Ejj has trained its sights on the nine-city cluster on the mainland for the next one to two years, allocating some 70 percent of its business there to take advantage of the relatively low production costs, as well as a great number of deep-pocketed consumers in the Bay Area.