When you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, what do you do? When you’re Nina Nguyen, you make jewelry. The Vietnamese jewelry designer went from crafting jewelry, to a career in finance, and back again. “Obsessed with natural organic stones,” Nina’s current collection is rocked out to the max, with glittering displays of bold druzy stone rings, necklaces and earrings. We chatted with the designer about her career change, her social consciousness, and what’s next for this inspirational artist.
two + seven: You’ve grown up designing jewelry, but somehow ended up with a career in finance. What led you astray from jewelry, and what was the turning point to come back to it?
Nina Nguyen: I ran astray from jewelry because I migrated to the US with my single mother and six siblings. Designing and producing jewelry was a luxury that I could not afford. The turning point that brought me back to jewelry was when I was in Jaipur, and I bought some gems. After coming back to the US, I designed a small collection and had a trunk show at the local Ritz Carlton. This turned out to be a huge success. Mrs. Marriott was one of my first customers. I don’t think she knew it then but she purchased four of my necklaces at my first trunk show.
2+7: Tell us more about your ‘socially responsible jewelry fabrication.’ Was this a goal of yours when you first founded your company?
NN: Socially responsible jewelry fabrication was not a goal of mine when I first started my company. I traveled to China, India, Thailand and Vietnam to look for manufacturers to produce my line. I wasn’t too impressed with the work conditions and quality of work from these manufacturers. Eventually, I decided to establish my production in Vietnam and overtime I learned about the challenges some of my employees were facing. I wanted to help them in bettering their quality of life.
2+7: You use a lot of druzy, agate, and stalactites in your designs. What is it that draws you to this material?
NN: The materials I use in my collection change so much from season to season. Right now, I am obsessed with the natural organic stones. I have a strange emotional attachment with these organic stones. I believe each of them tells a unique story. Think about it, you are wearing something noticeably beautiful that takes thousands of years to naturally form.
2+7: From conceptualization to completion, what’s your design process like?
NN: I source for the most unique stone to work with for instant my geodes are from Mexico, Amethyst Druzy from Russia and ammonite fossils are from Madagascar. I always start my design with stone, than fabricate the design in my studio in Naples, FL.
2+7: What do you have in the works?
NN: I am working on a luxury staple “black-dress” collection for my line which involves sustainable diamonds. This is all I can tell you for now so stay tuned!