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The Enigmatic World Of Austy Lee

The Enigmatic World Of Austy Lee

  • Acclaimed designer, Austy Lee, brings drama, mystique and luxury to the jewelry world with his designs. Nagmani takes a closer look at the designer's intriguing universe of creativity

Jewellery making is an inventive art profession. It’s no wonder that those interested in making it their full-time career must go extremely deep into their thoughts to come up with exceptional ideas for designing scintillating pieces of jewellery. Thanks to this distinctively creative spark, we see them instilling life into what is otherwise considered inanimate objects and ultimately turning them into the center of attention with divine meaning hidden underneath as part of making a style statement. 

This is where the intriguing jewellery designed by renowned Hong-based fine jewellery designer Austy Lee comes into play. Lee’s persona syncs well with each jewellery item he gives shape to, making him the maverick of his bold craft which is what tends to raise his profile as a game changer. His creations are aesthetically powerful enough to win over the psyche of jewellery connoisseurs whose search for new yet enchanting unconventional designs is a big plus point for the entire jewellery industry.    

His creations are opulently ornamented with gold, diamonds, and various types of precious gemstones but most importantly Chinese jade like no other. In essence, Lee’s jewellery novelties make him an artisan of supreme stature. 

Turning heads with his eccentric jewellery designs  

However, before making a foray into the world of jewellery, Lee used to be a graphic designer and illustrator in his early days dating back to 2003 when he started working for a local magazine. And it wasn’t long before he found his true calling in jewellery making. “Since my childhood, I’ve always been fascinated by the allure of gemstones and the irresistible idea of wearing jewellery in infinite ways. As far as I can remember, I would always spend a lot of money on a treasure hunt for gemstones that particularly appealed to me. But initially, it wasn’t on the cards for me to become a jewellery designer. I didn’t see it that way at all,” he said.  

Bursting with newfound enthusiasm to learn more about design practices, he didn’t think too much about moving on with his decision to receive a diploma degree in product design. Soon afterward, Lee’s escalating interest in jewellery led him to take important lessons about bone teeth, jade carvings, and restoring artifacts and antiques from his uncle already known for his high artisanship in this segment.  

“I just went for it without a second thought, giving myself a chance to familiarize myself with gemstone settings, metal-hand chiseling, and various other techniques which are considered very fundamental to the intricately grand art of jewellery making. I learned all of it while working as an intern for jewellery design at the Universal Jewellery Design Center Limited,” Lee said. “That’s how I’ve gained a sort of specialized know-how when it comes to lending a unique top-notch touch to my jewellery creations in different vibrant forms.” 

As things progressed, he kept getting fabulous opportunities along the way to show his talent. Not surprisingly, as part of this steady evolution, he found himself at the right place at the right time when he was given the post of chief designer and to work in this role for Wendy Yue, a renowned name in the industry.  

And at last, with more than enough experience under his belt, it was just a matter of time before he had his eponymous brand which he finally launched in 2017 to make his version of high jewellery collections that have taken the jewellery world by storm. 

Austy Lee jewellery is unique     

At the core of Lee’s bizarre designs in jewellery is his own powerful motto of “When Jewellery is Psychedelic Art” that he holds dear to his heart, thus letting him create jewellery pieces that genuinely embody the spirit of an avant-garde lifestyle. “I want my jewellery to look as mesmerizing and hypnotizing as possible while using 18k solid gold and a variety of precious and semi-precious gemstones by adding on different colour-plating and inlay techniques, at last creating one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces which one has hardly or never seen before,” he said.  

Leaning on his sharp, intrinsic knowledge and applying it exquisitely to how jade jewellery can also be made more fashionable, Lee has become a highly respected name in the industry. According to him, jewellery made of jade has always enjoyed a special place in Chinese culture. Jade is considered very auspicious by Chinese people as it has several qualitative elements like beauty, grace, and purity but most importantly a unique power to protect oneself against certain ills. All in all, it’s a heavenly gemstone that Asian countries have never lost their love for. But historically it’s been on the sidelines in different cultures for centuries.   

His other favorite gemstones are blue tourmalines (also known as indicolites) and emeralds which, he admits, are very mythical. “Indicolite colour is believed to possess a deep meaning in Tibetan Buddhism while the universe of emeralds can be traced back to Egyptian and Jewish mythologies,” he said. “In addition, I like to use ceramic, enamel, mother-of-pearl, abalone shells and various other carved/engraved materials such as sphene, Paraiba, padparadscha sapphires, star sapphires and pink diamonds in my jewellery pieces as I see fit. However, what I do can’t be complete without mentioning the marvelous history of Indian jewellery my designs are also heavily influenced by.” 

Colours are a big narrative of his designs 

The more colourful an object is, the better it would look from all angles. And it’s very true when talking about the glittering world of jewels. Lee himself sticks to the vision of making his jewellery as colourful as it can get. As he explained, “The depth of colour palette is one of the major areas of focus for me to get it right while designing my extraordinary jewellery pieces. I’ve always wanted people to feel that “This is Lee Lee’s creation” when they see a jewellery piece of mine. And therefore, the colour palette is very important to me because it represents my personality in the jewellery. My first collection right after I launched my brand was “The Psychedelic Light”. The collection was specifically designed using bold and hypnotic colour patterns that matched well with the requisites of my branding. Now I always hear from my customers saying things like “This is so Lee” and that’s simply a big accomplishment for me. I believe it’s something to take pride in.” 

To put it another way, because of his cult jewellery designs, he has been able to get Hollywood and international celebrities from across the globe wear them. With a worldwide following, his jewellery pieces are highly sought-after and can be seen in some of the world’s most exclusive boutiques and department stores in Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, London, Paris, Germany, Switzerland, Milan, Greece, Dubai, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.     

He uses his inspirations as magic

Going by his enigmatic designs, there is no denying whatsoever that he often finds himself motivated by a myriad of cultural and religious facets of life as well as the natural creations he is surrounded by. “I love reading books related to such topics and I used to teach jewellery design and culture at Hong Kong Baptist University as a part-time lecturer. So, by incorporating the elements of culture in my designs what I’ve intended to do is to emphasize the essence of magical storytelling around my art pieces and eventually make them even more special and meaningful,” Lee said. 

He is a devout follower of Tibetan Buddhism in his daily life. Its Thangkas and Mandalas are the main inspirations for the psychedelic patterns visible in his designs. And the use of different colours and patterns in his jewellery is very much like those often seen in Thangkas and Mandalas. 

“In my designs, you may occasionally see plants and creatures like orchids, butterflies, and sometimes mythical creatures. This is due to my overwhelming interest in nature and myths, especially orchids and ancient Greek mythology. I would love to reveal their beauty in the form of jewellery, thus becoming one of the eternal pieces ever designed by me,” he said. 

For Lee, making jewellery is something he loves to do. It’s fun for him and so he simply loves to delve into creating fun pieces. “It’s like connecting the dots of my daily life, my way of seeing things, or my cultural beliefs and putting all of them into these timeless art pieces of jewellery,” he said.    


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