Kinetic earrings and Reflection ring
Hong Kong has always been a hub for jewellery manufacturing, but in recent years the city has started to attract more international designers looking to base themselves here. This has injected the local scene with a fresh new perspective as this new breed of designers are intent on cutting edge jewels that are far from boring and conservative.
The latest name to add to the list is Sophie Birgitt which was founded by Sophie Birgitt-Debuf. Born in Belgium to a family of architects and interior designers, her parents would send her to their local Design Academy as a young girl sparking her creative streak. But it wasn’t until a few years ago in Hong Kong that she stumbled upon the world of jewellery when she contacted bench jeweller Nathalie Melville to learn how to make a clasp for her bracelet.
After learning the craft, Sophie launched her label earlier this year with a debut collection called Angles. As the name suggests the pieces are inspired by geometry with clean, architectural shapes (think triangles) accented with diamonds and finishings such as gunmetal gold. The look is minimalist yet luxe (every piece is handmade in Hong Kong) but never too bold or in your face. In fact there is a sensual, feminine element to her designs making them a great addition to any jewellery box.
We spoke to Sophie about her inspirations and more.
Cubic halo ring (left) and Between the Lines rings (right)
Why did you decide to launch your own line of jewellery?
Ever since I was a child I have been attracted to jewellery. Hong Kong allowed me to realise this dream because it really is one of the world’s most straightforward hubs for jewellery manufacturing and trading. I found a studio where I could learn the traditional craft of gold-smithing during my spare time and after attending an array of private classes it became my biggest passion. There’s nothing glamorous about sawing, filing and assembling metal but the gratification of seeing a piece of jewellery coming alive is indescribable.
What does Sophie Birgitt Jewels offer women that they cannot find elsewhere?
Sculptural, ergonomic, edgy design that is timeless.
How would you describe the brand’s style?
I like to play with new methods and ideas within the realm of traditional jewellery making. The signature for my debut collection is geometry, which gives a touch of power and independence to every piece. There are no round or organic forms in this collection and I have yet to come across a brand that has dared to do so. All my pieces are very abstract and sculptural, yet elegantly put together.
You’ve described your jewellery as wearable art. How so?
The jewel is the object par excellence, as it has no physical function. Its sole raison d’être is beauty and for me beauty is a sort of meditative escapism, which tows the line with art. I love the idea that it’s a part of yourself, as if it is a continuity of your skin, treating it as both personal adornment and public sculpture. I think the term “wearable art” describes a jewel with sculptural qualities or elaborate construction. Art isn’t limited to paintings or sculptures; I think it can stretch out to the jewellery industry. When jewellery moves you, I think that is art.
How important are trends when you design your collections?
For me my design is about character, individuality, self-expression and identity rather than what is hot right now. The jewels should reflect the woman’s character. I am in this period where I have an intrinsic need to be surrounded by clean straight lines, patterns and geometry. I love for things to be stripped back to their pure essentials where anything unnecessary goes.
Electric earrings and Love Triangle ring
What are your signature styles?
Behind every design there is a story of how it came alive in my head, changed on paper and eventually was transformed to its final form in metal. There has been so much thought, passion and prototyping gone into the evolution of the Angles collection. I truly love every single piece but if I had to pick a must-have piece I would choose our Reflection Double Finger ring. It’s super easy to wear, very comfortable and edgy chic. I wear it every single day. The Cubic Halo Full Finger ring is another ring that stands out from the collection.
What can we expect from your next collection?
Geometry is a very generous concept so for now I am creating new pieces that will be added to the Angles collection. My inspiration keeps flowing and there is no lack of ideas. Very soon there will be some bigger statement pieces such as chokers and bracelets.
Sunrise at Midnight earrings