Archive for the ‘Jewels’ Category

Jade by Nikolai's aMAZE-ing eve

March 8th, 2016


At right, jewelry designer Nikolai Tsang with Julie Aragaki.

Nikolai Tsang always stages the best parties, so a spring showcase of her latest jade and jewelry collections welcoming the Year of the Fire Monkey was not to be missed.

To entice, invitations were sent out weeks before the March 5 event. The invitations came with wooden destination markers, the picture postcard sort that indicate distance to desirable locations. We were told the arrows would point their way to a maze within which surprises await. Who doesn't love a surprise?

The space next door to Kakaako Agora was indeed decked out with a fabric maze with nooks that were home to a braid bar, henna station, several jewelry displays, a flower wall for selfies, and personal readings with Alice Inoue.

Coiffe Couture provided braids for men and women at a braid bar in one section of the maze.

Others signed up for mehndi, or temporary henna tattoos.

With flowers everywhere, the garden theme extended to the table where a "live garden" salad bar included crudité planted in soil of rye bread crumbs. And Elite Catering desserts of chocolate pudding studded with bits of fruit were planted in mini glazed flower pots. Other desserts came in stemware in the shape of tulips, and this was the first time I tried rose-flavored gau, a non-traditional version of the Chinese new year's sticky steamed rice cake.

All this was backdrop for the real stars of the show, Nikolai's beautiful jade carvings, and jade and precious stone jewelry. I made note of a particular yellow diamond ring.

An overview of the setting.

Guests could browse through collections of pearls, jade and precious stone jewelry all night long.

nik stones

nik gem

Beyond a display of hanging flowers was a wall of corded jade bracelets.

An edible garden of crudité.

An edible garden of crudité.

Potted pudding and other desserts.

Traditional-, green tea- and rose-flavored gau.

Traditional-, green tea- and rose-flavored gau.

 Elite Catering also provided more serious bites, including beef, shrimp and duck.

Elite Catering also provided more serious bites, including beef, shrimp and duck.

Keith Aragaki had the henna applied to his face.

Keith Aragaki had the henna applied to his face.

Vivienne Westwood celebrates 1st year in Waikiki

March 11th, 2014

westwoodRed, white and blue, the British way.Nadine Kam photos

Vivienne Westwood marked its first anniversary at The Moana Surfrider Hotel on March 6, a celebration of fearless, individualistic Brit style.

If you've got a wild side at all, you've got to love Dame Westwood, an icon of punk, new wave and shock fashion.

In spite of her ties to the U.K. punk scene and Malcolm McLaren's SEX boutique, I find the clothing carried here to be both original and more easy to wear than you'd imagine, given her reputation for eclectic, eccentric clothing.

You must check it out!

west2From left, Jason Alex Yapching, Azlinn Gregg and Catherine Caldwell.

west1Westwood boutique manager Jered Branco with Spa at Trump director Bridgette DeVore, left, and Malie Moran.

westwoodjVivienne Westwood statement necklaces, the larger with her signature Orb motif. You can see the design more clearly on the bag below:



Unfortunately, after early dinner at the Hyatt, I could only drop in at Westwood for a few minutes before heading to second dinner at Stage in the Honolulu Design Center, which was marking the return of chef Ron De Guzman and debuting a collection of fashion-inspired artwork. You can view more at my other blog, Take a Bite.


Jade by Nikolai hosts Speakeasy jewelry party

November 26th, 2013

jade ring

A garden of jade flower rings by Nikolai Tsang of Jade by Nikolai.Nadine Kam photos

We can always trust jewelry designer Nikolai Tsang to come up with the best theme parties. Her latest invite came in the form of a weathered-looking swatch of fabric offering a date, time and password: Jade by Nikolai, for entering her Speakeasy.

Apparently, nearly a hundred years since the era of Prohibition, some people don't know what a speakeasy is. As guests arrived, some asked, "Were we supposed to dress up?"

Yeah! In Roaring '20s style consistent with the gangster era, when a nationwide ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933 led to a boon in illegal alcohol sales by the likes of Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

Speakeasies were underground establishments that illegally sold alcohol.

The theme was appropriate for a year that seemed to be marked by a fascination for the 1920s, beginning with the anticipation for Baz Luhrmann's film interpretation of "The Great Gatsby," and ending with the start of the TV mini series "Bonnie & Clyde," set to begin airing Dec. 8 on A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel.

jade invite

jade room

Tables were draped with pearls and white plumes, while in the back there was a makeshift bar and barrels for decor.

The prohibition movement, also known as the dry crusade, was led by religious groups that gave rise to temperence groups that associated liquor with moral decay and prostitution. If all of this seems far and away, it should sound very familiar. It's interesting to note how similar the 1920s are to this time, from the economy to the religious fervor over same-sex marriage and saving our souls from marijuana. Never mind that the current war on drugs has only led overseas thugs to profit from our misery. History does repeat itself for those who never learn its lessons.

Interestingly, I read a study of the politics of alcohol a while back, and it was noted that cultures who view alcohol as a normal, accepted part of life, such as enjoying a glass of wine at the dinner table, have no problems with alcohol. It's only those nations that look at it as an evil that have problems with alcoholism, because by casting it in an evil light, it is construed as something to seek, covet and hide when in such judgmental company.


Nikolai Tsang helps one of her clients trying on a lariat of leather and black pearls. They are both wearing her jade watch and jade bead bracelets.

But, this party was about fun and raising funds for the Laulima Giving Program, not politics, and guests walked into a cavernous warehouse whose entrance was blocked by Hank's Haute Dogs truck, offering Chicago or lobster dogs to party goers. For those on the outside though, the giveaway that something special was going on withing the industrial space was the presence of valets and umpteen cars.

There was lots of food from Hank's, The Pig & The Lady, Kau Kau Grill and pizza, but women mostly spent hours poring over Nikolai's jade, diamond and gemstone pieces for the holidays. As I looked at the jewelry, many one-of-a-kind pieces, I was told to get them before someone else does.

I was thinking, "What are the odds someone will have the same taste as me?" Though I should know by now my taste, though eclectic, is not unusual. As one boutique-owner friend noted, everything I touch sold immediately afterward, and she always invited me to come to her store and touch stuff.

As it turns out, I was eyeing an unusual diamond ring that formed an X on the finger. At $1,500, I didn't think it would be snatched up so quickly, but sure enough, by my second round, it was sold! I didn't even get to take a picture of it.


Joanne Koyanagi tries convincing her husband Mike that she needs this pearl necklace.


Nikolai with KHON's Trini Kaopuiki, who heads the television station's Laulima Giving Program. Proceeds from sales at the event will allow Jade by Nikolai to adopt 12 to 20 families in need, and fulfill their Christmas wishes. (more…)

Ross moves into new location at Pearlridge

November 13th, 2013


The newly open Ross Dress for Less store at Pearlridge Center, Uptown, is dressed for the holidays. Nutcracker figures start at $12.99, Santas from $14.99, and gift stockings run from about $7.99 to $9.99.Nadine Kam photos

Holiday shoppers looking for the Ross Dress for Less store at Pearlridge Center last weekend were a little confused when they looked in the usual location to find it gone.

The store has a new location Uptown, where bargain hunters will still be able to find clothing, accessories and housewares at 20 to 60 percent off department store prices. The store is in the site that formerly housed Borders Books & Records. Enter through an elevator in the parking lot between Uptown and Downtown, or from the mall.

If you're on a tight budget, it's a good place to pick up holiday decor, toys for the kids and clothing for the family. I found holiday dresses in the $14.99 to $24.99 price range, and with the recent spate of cold, rainy weather—it was crazy driving through white-out conditions!—many shoppers were in the outerwear section, searching for something warm, whether for here or their winter travels.

To celebrate the new store, and just in time for the holidays, Ross is sending me a $25 gift card and wants one of Hawaii's fashion tribe to go shopping with $25, which goes a lot further at Ross than most other stores! (If you're reading from somewhere else, sorry but this contest is for Hawaii readers only.)

Just add a comment to let me know if you're interested in winning a $25 gift card and I'll add your name to a drawing and pull the winner at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Good luck!


Angel sculptures in silver and gold.


A glint of metal can also be found in apparel, such as this sequined designer shift, and jewelry pieces for the holidays.



Lace is another of the fall trends.


A "Toyland" section is stocked with playthings for little ones.



More ornaments and decorative items for the holidays.

Bollywood costumes star in East-West Center exhibition

October 6th, 2013


Bollywood film costumer Nidhi Yasha is in town for the East-West Center Arts Program "Bollywood & Beyond: Costume in Indian Film." She's shown with costumes she created for "The Buddha."Nadine Kam photos

If you're a fan of Bollywood film and have some free time Sunday (Oct. 6) afternoon, from 2 to 3 p.m., you might consider heading to the East-West Center Gallery for a talk by Nidhi Yasha, film costumer, creative director and owner of NY Studio in Mumbai. She'll be giving an illustrated talk about "Fashion Through the Ages: Costumes in Bollywood Film," in conjunction with the gallery's exhibition "Bollywood & Beyond: Costume in Indian Film."

The exhibition will run through Jan. 12, 2014, and there is a full schedule of weekly Sunday events planned, including talks, a dance workshop Oct. 20 with Harmony Turner, and several film screenings. All the events are free.

My interview with Nidhi will appear in the paper at a later date.

The East-West Center Gallery is in the John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East-West Road. The gallery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Closed Saturdays and holidays, including, coming up, Dec. 22, 24, 29 and 31.


Some examples of the intricate designs embroidery and embellishment that go into Bollywood film costumes. An exhibit of costumes and red carpet gowns are on display at East-West Center Gallery through Jan. 12, 2014.


Dropping in on the John Hardy compound in Bali

August 27th, 2013


One of the employees at John Hardy in Bali, arranges pieces in one of the bamboo and glass jewelry cases.Nadine Kam photos

BALI, INDONESIA — I feel so lucky and privileged to have been able to visit the John Hardy compound outside Ubud, where I traveled with designer Amos Kotomori. We were able to observe the entire jewelry-making process, from illustration to wax carving, to seeing the cast silver pieces in unpolished state, and the final pieces on display in a sustainable bamboo showroom. (It's not easy walking on bamboo tubes. I felt like I needed monkey toes to prevent myself from rolling off.)

When I see the finished jewelry gleaming in the showcases at Neiman Marcus, of course I can see the work that goes into them, and intellectually, I know that someone made these pieces by hand. But actually seeing the painstaking work of individual links being made and ropes of it being woven by hand gave me an even greater appreciation for the company's jewelry.

How I came to visit the John Hardy compound in Mambai, Bali, started with owner/creative director Guy Bedarida's visit to NM in fall of 2011. I interviewed him and he showed me a book featuring a photo of the factory compound, set up to evoke a Balinese warung, or household with a small shop out front, each with its own specialty to share with neighbors.

We also talked about the idea of the village and how he feeds his all his employees, now numbering 700, lunch every day, along with guests. I was taken by the idea and how it makes so much sense to keep employees happy, and how American companies would do well to follow his example.

At the time, he invited me to come to Bali, but I didn't know when I'd be able to make it there, and I'm glad I was able to visit. I enjoyed every minute of the experience.

A previous post is here:

If you want to see more about the food, visit my other blog:


Wax models for a bracelet and ring, with a block of wax shown against a background of illustrations that carvers were working from, as below:


Looks like a Naga (dragon) collection piece in the works, like one of the examples below:

John Hardy photo


Sri Utami shows a wax model work in progress that will be used to create a silver stapler that may become one of many John Hardy lifestyle products.


Villa Bodhi manager Made Sukadana crosses the pond surrounding the manufacturing shop on stepping stones. Not wishing to fall into the water, I took a route through the grass, where one could also fall into the water if not careful. Round-topped stepping stones lining the pathways throughout the property make it necessary to wear flats when visiting the compound. It's quite a workout.

cast silver

Cast silver pieces from the Naga collection await polishing.


A wax model of a Bamboo collection cuff, in green, is shown with a finished cuff at top right.


The same level of attention and precision goes into the smallest beads.


Polishing a flex cuff from the Dot collection.


Hammering silver and gold that go into the Palu collection, with an example of the finished pieces below:


John Hardy photo

Lee Sands unloads inventory of beads, gemstones and eel skin

July 30th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Carnelian, tiger's eye and amethyst beads and gemstones are among the items up for grabs at the Lee Sands closeout sale going on now at the First Interstate (First Hawaiian) bank building on King Street.

Yesterday I got a breathless call from handbag designer Lynda Sakraida, of Hadji Baba Bags, about Lee Sands' closeout sale. She said she had dropped a lot of money there and was doing her best to stay away, but she thought all crafters and jewelry makers should know about it.

After several decades in the jewelry and accessories business, Hawaii-based QVC entrepreneur Sands is making plans to retire, and that means liquidating his entire inventory of beads, freshwater pearls, gemstones, finished jewelry, eel leather handbags and small leather goods, now being offered at cost.


Bags of gemstones available at $5 per bag.

Examples include finished necklaces at $7, stone beads at about $5 per strand and bags of beads for $5.

Even though yesterday was a strange day with tropical depression Flossie on the way, I wasn't sure whether the sale event would be open because so many workers were sent home, just in case. But there they were, and told me I had just missed Sakraida, who, just hours before, had told me she wasn't going to go because she had already spent too much stocking up on findings, that I'm sure will now find their way to embellish her artful handbags!

The Lee Sands closeout sale is taking place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays on the 16th floor of the First Interstate (First Hawaiian) building at 1314 South King St. The sale is being replenished weekly and will continue until everything is gone. Staffers believe this will take a month or more, but they may not know the extent of Hawaii's appetite for crafting and jewelry making.

Only check or cash is accepted, and validated parking is available with a $100 purchase.


Eelskin accessories were among Lee Sands original claims to fame, and his company still has a bigger market in eelskin items than jewelry.


Strands of freshwater pearls are being offered at $7 each.


For non-crafters, some finished jewelry is also available.

Bliss Lau back in town

July 23rd, 2013

Nadine Kam photos

Bliss Lau at a meet-and-greet event and jewelry trunk show at the Coconut Waikiki Hotel.

Prior to the July 20 Hawaii RED magazine-sponsored branding master class taught by Hawaii-raised designer Bliss Lau and New York brand strategist Jasmine Takanikos, the pair appeared at a meet-and-greet session and trunk show for media and the fashion community at the Coconut Waikiki Hotel July 19.

It was my only opportunity to catch up with the two, because July 20 was a magnet for event planners and my calendar was full with three events to get to.

I'm sorry I missed their event at the Kahala, which aimed to bring to Honolulu a taste of the prestigious Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, where they jointly teach a course in accessory design and brand strategy, a one-two punch that would-be designers or retailers need to translate their ideas into products and communicate their ideas to consumers.

Of course, a visit from Bliss is always dangerous for me because I always have to have a few of her new pieces. She has such a strong aesthetic, and I always love a strong statement. This time around, I picked up a leather bra-vest, the same style she was wearing that day, which can dress up a simple tank top. Today, I'm wearing it with a black H&M fishtail dress. I thought of picking up one of her new fine jewelry body chains, but for now I'll continue to make do with her more industrial 2.0 version.

It's interesting to see how her designs evolve, which is part of her course at Parsons, where she was a design student and is now a professor. She said she employs the Socratic method of asking questions to arrive at answers as to how to continually refine work and better communicate her ideas.

I now have five of her pieces, and looking at her website,, there are many more on my wish list, but first I have to clear out my closet to see where I can make the best use of them.

A display of Bliss Lau's work and current fine jewelry pieces.


Guests were welcome to try on pieces, including the Chrysler bracelet, at right, $229, and its newer fine jewelry counterpart.


It took seeing the Bridge ring ($333), below, IRL to make sense of the stackable, buildable design when paired with the Split ring ($110), as modeled.bbridge


Bliss Lau's new leather bra-vest piece suited her dress so well Toby Portner and I both asked her if the dress had been made specifically to showcase the piece, but no, her body jewelry/accessories simply adapt to various clothing, adding interest and elevating the simplest tank top.

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