#PeopleStories: Be-jewelled! A Career In Jewellery Design

The growing trend these days is to accessorise with materials such as beads, feathers and even the odd button. coursesmalaysia.com caught up with chief jewellery designer and bead instructor, Margaret Choy of Beadazzle Bead Boutique to find out about this growing industry.
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Margaret Choy
Chief Jewellery Designer and Bead Instructor at The Beadazzle Bead Boutique
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What made you choose jewellery design?

Jewellery design started as a past time. As far back as when I was a teenager, I've always had an insatiable interest in and passion for all things that can be crafted and modified to look unique. I often find myself buying an ordinary off-the-shelf hair clip and turning it into an eye-catching hair accessory or even an unusual brooch.

What is your usual design style?

My designs range from the simple and elegant to intricate and funky pieces. These designs are usually created depending on my mood as well as moments of inspiration. 

So where do you find the inspiration to create?

I believe that with a bit of creativity, a dose of imagination and a dollop of viewing things from a different angle, one will be able to find inspiration everywhere! When I look at a particular dress, noting its neckline, colours, fabric and texture among others, or at the zany colours splashed on an avant-garde poster, inspiration kicks in and I find myself creating a piece reminiscent of all these things. One should also never underestimate the controlled kind of inspiration that comes from the need to custom-design for a specific client. A jewellery designer needs to be able to create a piece according to his client's personality and specifications.

Is there a market for your jewellery in Malaysia?

Yes, there is. Malaysians always want something unique to make them stand out. My designs are basically ready-to-wear pieces and customised one-of-a-kind creations made of an unbeatable combination of mainly semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls. These pieces are not mass produced and on top of that, they are also much more affordable than fine jewellery. So far, my pieces have travelled as far as the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, among others.

In your opinion, is there a demand for jewellery designers in Malaysia?

There is always a demand for good and prolific jewellery designers. However, jewellery design is not something that a person should dabble in, unless he is passionate, committed and persistent in proving his mettle. All these traits are needed in order for a designer to conceptualise, design and produce unique, one-off and wearable pieces. 

How important are qualifications in jewellery design?

Having a degree in this field would definitely help open the doors of jewellery fashion houses. However, at the end of the day, it is still you and the drawing board that matters. That is why aspiring designers should start building up their portfolios. Presenting prospective employers with a portfolio of their work would definitely give them an advantage.

What other skills do aspiring jewellery designers need, to excel in this industry?

Depending on the area they choose to specialise in, there are many craft related skills like soldering, plating, polishing and mounting that can help enhance a designer's creativity and imagination.

Where do jewellery designers usually find work?

With a relevant degree in jewellery design, you would be able to pursue an apprenticeship at any of the various jewellery houses. Besides that, a jewellery designer could also go freelance, designing for large to small scale organisations, ranging from kiosks to int
ernational fashion houses. While working as an apprentice or as a full-time employee, jewellery designers who are more entrepreneurial, could also design in their own free time, preferably with a target market in mind and then, market their products.

What is your advice to aspiring jewellery designers?

Jewellery designers are not born overnight. They have to discover their designing forte, build up their portfolios, and in time, carve their niche in the jewellery scene. To do this, they need creativity, perseverance and determination, while maintaining humility and being down-to-earth. Their designs must be able to 'speak' to people and if they Don't, it would equate to failure.