Jewelry Designer Yoshi Beautifully Combines Japanese and U.S. Style

May 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

Last week I was excited to sit down with jewelry designer Yoshi, a warm, creative and stylish Japanese woman who has made a name for herself in Japan and recently decided to introduce her work to an American audience. Though pearls might be considered her signature stone, she also uses diamonds, rubies, sapphires and gold (pink, yellow and white), sometimes combined with amber, onyx or jade, to invoke color and light.

Yoshi grew up in Tokyo, but came to the U.S. to develop her new career and receive a degree in gemology from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America. She also studied English and history at UCLA. Now she lives in Santa Monica, California, but frequently travels back to Japan, where people are delighted by her shock of blonde hair and beautiful accessories. In fact, people constantly approach her to ask where she got her jewelry.

On the day I met Yoshi, she was wearing a dark silver pearl necklace over a crisp white blouse, a black jacket with black velvet flower prints on the collar, red-framed glasses and to-die-for rings (one diamond, one black jade and cat’s eye). I wanted to steal every item!
Yoshi loves combining U.S. and Japanese cultures in one outfit. When she worked in Beverly Hills as a beauty consultant, she would wear the top half of a kimono and discard the bottom half.

Each of her designs is exclusive and personal. If you bring her an heirloom, she can even arrange it into a fresh piece. She meets with clients one-on-one to determine what type and style of jewelry works best for them individually.

“In Japan,” she laughs, “they tell me to decide for them! So I usually bring them three choices and let them choose. In the U.S., they usually have some idea of what they’re looking for.” She has a quick, keen ability to match people with jewelry that complements their looks and personalities.

Bringing Maki-e Back

Yoshi has updated maki-e jewelry while keeping what defines it — the exquisitely detailed and delicate style — in tact. Maki-e is unique to Japan and has been around since the Nara Period (710 –794).On top of lacquer, artists paint with gold, silver or platinum dust to create colorful, eye-catching images. Traditionally seen on bowls, Buddhist altars, etc., the use and ownership of these luxury items were limited to Court Nobles and Samurai. Today you can find maki-e on watches, fountain pens, beautiful plates and more, and with Yoshi’s innovations you can wear the style as a necklace.

Yoshi, who loves to challenge herself, sought out maki-e makers in Japan and added her own personal touch: small, diamond-encrusted frames and simple but beautiful chains.
She is dedicated to using only the highest quality materials and will travel the world to find them. Some of her stones are cut in Idar-Oberstein, the gem capital of Germany.

With Yoshi’s designs, you get the best of traditional Japanese artwork merged with modern elegance. Two cultures and styles join together to create jewelry that is special and one-of-a-kind — just like Yoshi herself.

Sarah S.

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