A young Howick jeweller has just picked up a top apprentice award across the Tasman and she says she must thank her classmates for the accomplishment.
At the end of August, Kelly Ryu won Apprentice of the Year in the third and fourth year apprentice/student category at the prestigious international Jewellery Design Awards 2017 held in Sydney.
As a student in her final year at the Peter Minturn Goldsmith School in Auckland, Ryu’s class was asked to design chandelier earrings inspired by an aspect of the Silk Road story.
The ornamentation of the Byzantine Empire inspired her work, named Sun and Moon earrings, which feature spinning sun and moon centres and are made in sterling silver and cubic zirconia.
They took two weeks to make and while Ryu was excited throughout the process, she had no thought that she’d created something truly special.
“Two classmates convinced me to enter but I wasn’t keen.
When they told me, they thought I could win I laughed, then I said I’d enter if everyone else did,” Ryu says.
As a result of the students’ pact, there were seven finalists in the Year 3 and 4 category and five of them came from the same school as Ryu.
She says of her win, “I was quite shocked.
I really didn’t expect it.
I was happy enough to be a finalist and have an excuse to go to Sydney.
It didn’t sink in properly until the next day.”
As well as winning glory at the competition that’s held as part of the International Jewellery Fair 2017, Ryu took home AUS$2500 in prize money.
It’s the intangible spinoffs from her award are having the most impact on her undeniable talent.
“Since winning I’m trusting my design instincts more and I’m more passionate about the design process and I’m having more fun with it.
“I’m also looking forward to working on something really exceptional – to be given the creative leeway to do my own thing.”
Ryu currently works Mondays and Saturdays at Howick Village Jeweller with artisan jeweller Chris Schweder and his team and after graduation in December she’ll start there full-time.
“I am deeply proud of Kelly,” says Schweder.
“As her confidence as a designer and craftsperson grows, she can use her life influences to create refreshing, original and unique designs.”
Currently, Kelly has retail duties and repairs while settling into her new role, as well as designing and making Christmas pendants.