Jewelry designer Ann Ong is a collector. She gathers twigs, bamboo, pieces of wood, anything that is found within the debris of a forest, jungle or beach. With all her organic loot, she creates distinctive jewelry that is inspired by nature’s throwaways.
Before she launched her business, Ong was a struggling designer raising four children; making jewelry was a hobby. In an interview with The Philippine Star, she said, “I started telling myself that I could create something out of nothing and then sell it. I would just sketch, simple sketches, but everything comes from my feelings. I would buy used beads out of nowhere and turn them into necklaces and bracelets, and they sold! I used to do some wire works. But as time went by, I realized I had to set myself apart.” With an eye for craft and persistence to succeed, Ann Ong Jewelry morphed into a world-class designer.
Her vision she says was to create “the Ann Ong brand to resurrect the handcrafting in jewelry making. We don’t use any molds or machines. All is done by human hands—it is the heart and soul of Filipino craftsmanship. Every detail every curve of my creations is handmade and a one-of-a-kind work of art.
“My design process is nature inspired. All my designs are organic looking, which is my signature look. I collaborate with nature and by creating designs that are nature inspired, women learn to value and protect nature because nature is gold.”
Starting out with one artisan, Ong now employs ten artisans and six people in operations who manage the day-to-day tasks of running a business. When hiring artisans, she says, “In creating handmade pieces, an artisan has to have his heart and soul into it. He must be happy with what he does it shows in his creation.”
She is proud of what she’s managed thus far including that she’s able to promote Filipino craftsmanship and provide jobs for poor artisans. “By creating jobs for my people they can give their children a proper education and provide food and shelter for their family.”
A huge achievement was winning the KATHA Awards Best Product Design in Fashion awarded by the Center for International Trade Expositions & Missions (CITEM) in 2013. The award is given for design excellence in the country, and honors manufacturers, designers, and artisans who craft products that are distinctly fresh, original and innovative.
Her new collection, Nature is GOLD is both figurative and literal. Clutches made from her findings are embellished with a rough gold finish and with a variety of semi-precious stones such as amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, and jade.
Ann Ong and her team will be exhibiting artful clutches and jewelry at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Center from January 31 through February 3rd. Her jewelry and clutches are sold at Avanti Day Resort in Manalapan, NJ. She also exports to Colombia, Germany, Singapore, Russia, and Spain.
For more information, visit www.annongjewelry.com.