Mabel Chong: A Life In Color
Mabel Chong is dedicated to her artistry—playing with color and detail amongst a myriad of gemstones. She creates meaningful and considered jewelry, impeccably crafted in her atelier in San Francisco—pieces that look and feel good.
The Jewelry Edit had the opportunity to talk to Chong.
How did you come up with the concept for your company?
My tagline is "Uncivilized Elegance.” This is a reflection of my background. I was raised in rural China with five sisters and a brother and didn't grow up with jewelry, so I wasn't aware of what was popular or not. I make what I like, and that’s represented by "uncivilized elegance."
Where do you look for inspiration when designing pieces?
I love nature: autumn leaves, flowers, the ocean, fruits, and vegetables; their colors and movements inspire me. I can't draw well, so I design in the moment by playing around with different colors and materials to see what works.
What are your favorite types of pieces to design?
I love working with chandelier earrings because you can do so many different things with them. They're a lot of work, but I find it satisfying to group a variety of stones into one piece that flows. It’s all about finding that “perfect match,” and that’s when you know the earrings are complete.
What’s your favorite type of material to wear/work with?
I love working with geode, like in my Cassiopeia necklace. I also love working with pyrite because it's earthy yet sparkly. I love moss aquamarine, it reminds me of the ocean and it looks beautiful on everyone. I also really love London blue topaz, because of its beautiful bright blue color.
How would you describe your style?
My style is colorful, elegant, and a little bit edgy.
What was the first piece of jewelry you remember buying for yourself?
When I was in high school, I remember buying these big, dangly silver earrings. I was obsessed with them.
What’s the most special piece of jewelry you own? What’s the story behind it?
The most special piece of jewelry I own is a sterling silver 3” cuff from my husband - the first gift he ever gave me. Before the gift, my style was to wear many silver bracelets on 1 hand. After he gave me the cuff, I took off the bracelets and the cuff became my look.
What’s one piece of jewelry you wear often, that you can’t live without?
I make jewelry that I want to wear personally and very often I feel sad to ship a piece away. Every piece that I make, I love.
How many pieces of jewelry do you usually wear at any given time? What are they?
I just counted—I have on: seven rings, one pair of earrings, four bracelets, and three necklaces. I'm into mixed metals, and love to layer them. My necklaces: a 14k gold drawn cable chain, a charm necklace, and an oxidized curb cable short chain. My bracelets: two leather pave diamond bracelets, one dark curb chain diamond bracelet and a gold skinny diamond band bracelet. My earrings: a pair of sliced watermelon tourmaline mismatched earrings with a matching ring. My other rings are a coral statement ring, the Amirah diamond ring, and a couple of skinny diamond bands.
Why do you think it’s important for people to wear jewelry?
Jewelry showcases a person's style like nothing else and it elevates your look much more than clothing. Making jewelry is an artform that should be celebrated, and buying/wearing pieces are the perfect way to do so.
What’s something people should keep in mind when shopping for jewelry?
Look for organic shapes, they're timeless. Also, look for gold-filled or 14k gold jewelry. The gold color lasts forever and can be polished and cleaned over time.
What draws customers in to purchase jewelry from your collection?
My jewelry is lightweight, flowy, classic, and intricate. I use a lot of color and detail that is unique amongst today’s jewelry designs.