Interview Designer : May-Nawatan Rungdilokroajn
Rising new-gen jewelry designer May-Nawatan Rungdilokroajn has been shaking the industry up with her unique, contemporary designs suited to be worn in every possible occasion.
With her widely accepted works, she has become part of The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand’s Gems Treasure Project — developing nielloware in the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat to evolve, as well as attract the market of new generation buyers.
“Before, when I thought about nielloware, I thought of traditional Thai curvy patterns packed into a single piece of work. This perception came from me seeing the older generation sometimes pinning them on their silk or cotton costumes or wearing them as bracelets.”
“Nielloware used in jewelry has existed for a while now. It’s just that once you see them, it just screams ‘nielloware’. There’s only two colors, which is silver and gold, and the way that it’s made has always been the same. First of all, a pattern is etched onto silver; then it is covered with niello; it is sanded and buffed until smooth, and finally an artisan would add details by hand. The difference in gold niello is the last step, which uses an inlay of 99.99 percent gold.”
“The inspiration of the collection came from this: On first the day where I went to observe nielloware works in Nakhon Si Thammarat, I took my family along. Once we descended the plane, I looked out and saw a beautiful vast sky. From there, we drove to the beach in Amphoe Kanom. The sea was crystal clear, turquoise, and so untouched. When we went to a nearby waterfall, all I encountered was lushness of the forest. It was stunningly green. From these experiences, I understood that the province is an extremely fertile land.”
“I wanted to reflect this feeling of captivation through the different colors of precious stones. I took this concept to a nielloware artisan of Nakhon Si Thammarat. I gave him a task — to show the abundance and fertility of the province through whatever pattern he could think of. There was no limit. It was all up to him.”
“I didn’t want to go back to Bangkok, sketch on a computer, and let local craftsmen do the work — because that would make it a product from Bangkok produced in Nakhon Si Thammarat. I wanted the pattern to be from the local’s eyes, because when we put the jewelry pieces together, there’s an air of locality inside a modern form. So, what we got was something quite new.”
“This collection was born out of a collaboration between the local artisan and myself. When I sent the parts to the artisan in Nakhon, they didn’t know which pieces would be what jewelry. He drew a pair of birds resting on a tree. The base, which is colorful, paired with colorful gems made it look like a sunset scene. This was something unexpected — and it’s a good story to tell.”
“I thought of the collection name as The Story of the South because it speaks of the lushness and fertility of the area — especially Nakhon Si Thammarat. It illustrates what I, as a designer, thinks of the province — while having a local artisan create the image which reflects that. I did that because I believe that no other person could be able to tell the story of Nakhon Si Thammarat other than a local. And from there, I develop and modernize it.”
The collaboration between the designer and the local craftsman had brought out an elegant and balanced design which differs from anything that has been done before. The production of the new look of nielloware jewelry will undoubtedly create a new trend which — pleasing all those who wish to see more Thai patterns in a more modern form.