Patcharavipa Bodiratnangkura, or Pat as she introduces herself, is usually decked out in jewellery. “Rings - at least four or five,” she says, waving her hands and waggling her fingers. “And then I do earrings. [But] I prefer rings. I feel like if I wear rings, I will be able to do more things.”
But not today. “Because I’m at home and it’s early,” laughs the London-based Thai jewellery designer, a graduate from Central Saint Martins’ BA jewellery design course. “[It was] very competitive,” she affirms of an assumption usually reserved more for the college’s well-known fashion courses. “You really had to sit down and learn.”
Truth be told, learning about jewellery is something the 29-year-old has been doing quite naturally since the age of 13, when she stumbled across her mother’s cabinet of curiosities and began to come up with her own designs. “She collects loose stones, not even real stones, synthetic, but very colourful and very nice cuts,” she recalls. Growing up, she was surrounded by a family of innovators, creatives and philanthropists. Her maternal great grandfather is Nai Lert, who is a much revered figure in the transport and real estate industries in Thailand.
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Soon, young Pat was making and selling pieces to her friends and her mother’s friends. “Every time we [went] to [a] party with my mum, I would have my little bag with the jewellery, I’d open it up and all her friends would be like, ‘Oh I want this, I want that’.”
When she finished high school, she knew she wanted to get into art and design. She came to London to enrol in Chelsea College of Art and Design’s art foundation program and then embarked upon her specialist jewellery training. Today, Pat is also a certified gemologists from the Graduate Diamonds Programme of the Gemmology Institute of America (GIA) and the Colour Stones Programme at the AIGS, the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Bangkok. In 2016, she launched her eponymous brand which among other outlets is stocked at influential retailer Dover Street Market.
That she would do something equal parts creative and entrepreneurial was more or less a given. “I always wanted to create my own universe,” she thinks back. It’s something she has done with a flagship store in Bangkok. Store displays look like they are made from concrete but are actually constructed from foam, a very Patcharavipa touch. The designer, who now works with her partner Kenzi Harleman, is known for her play on texture and elements of surprise. Tactility and architecture, as well as nature, are key references; pieces are bold and imperfections appeal for that feel of heirloom legacy.
You’ll see it among the latest collection, Clues Couture, which features spectacular stiff chain rings, handmade - and dimpled to show it – in 18k Sian gold, accompanied with stones of sherbet shades: a Mozambique Oval Paraiba or a yellow Chanthaburi Sapphire for example. The new SS21 collection, Clues Sepper, made in lockdown and a portmanteau of salt and pepper, appropriately includes black and white diamonds and is inspired by the lines and portholes of Jean Prouvé, the French metalworker and architect.
“We’re definitely a fine jeweller, but more modern in terms of design – and fashionable,” she describes her style, which unlike some other jewellery houses is not cultivated by stone selection first. “I would actually draw everything first and then find the stones.”
The brand produces one main collection a year with a special high jewellery or couture collection alongside it. And Pat will spend one to two months drawing and being inspired, and another two on production. The last few months proved a little more complicated. “I started drawing inside my head and I knew what I wanted it to look like but to explain to goldsmiths was quite tough.”
The overall mood for dressing down and feeling comfortable during these past months is certainly something she took into consideration as well. “I wanted something very practical for this new collection – everything is very small and for every day. It fits every outfit.” Round, oval and rose-cut diamonds are used among 22 new styles.
For Pat, the joy of jewellery is its longevity. “Whatever you invest in, it will still be there, because it won’t get dirty. It’s not like clothes and shoes, you can really pass [it] on to the next generation. It’s that feeling of value that will last.”
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