Love is all around at Michelle Oh’s east London studio. For over a decade she has been designing bespoke engagement and wedding rings for loved-up couples, a process she relishes. “It still blows my mind to think that there are people all around the world wearing my rings as a symbol of their marriages,” she said, “but it’s great to only work with people who are so happy.”
Jewellery design was not part of Michelle’s plan when she moved to London from Jakarta to study fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. While enjoying the creative element she quickly realised clothing design was not for her. “As soon as I started the course I realised I like to buy clothes not make them,” she admits. Instead she uncovered a passion for jewellery making, “falling in love” with the medium due to being “a lot more hands on, like making sculpture in small form.”
I like to keep it sustainable. It’s nice for my customers to know where their products come from. I’m able to tell the whole process, from start to finish.
Today, Michelle works from a studio and shop called Oh Boston on artsy Brick Lane, sharing the space with fellow jeweller and Tide member, Rachel Boston. The unique positioning of a workshop behind the shop floor allows almost everything to take place under one roof, from initial designing to photographing the final pieces. I like to keep it sustainable. It’s nice for my customers to know where their products come from. I’m able to tell the whole process, from start to finish.
I wasn’t really sure how to brand myself but the most challenging part was not knowing when the next sale was going to come. It’s not like a nine-to-five job where you have a guaranteed salary.
Things have not always been so easy. Starting out Michelle, worked from her bedroom to keep costs down while trying to build a brand online with the help of social media. “I wasn’t really sure how to brand myself but the most challenging part was not knowing when the next sale was going to come. It’s not like a nine-to-five job where you have a guaranteed salary.”
Her persistence paid off, however, and ten years later she has a global client list and has seen her piece featured among the pages of Vogue and Elle magazines. Such success has not gone to her head though. Instead she offers a helping hand to the next generation of budding designers by selling a range of products from other local creatives in store and online. “I remember being in that position when I was starting out and there aren’t many places to sell what you make. It’s nice to be able to support them,” she said.
Michelle has lost count of the number of engagement rings she has now made but there was one she resisted the urge to design: her own. “My other half wasn’t going to go out and attempt to buy one. He went to a really good friend of mine who is also a jeweller and together they worked on it… and it’s really nice,” she smiles. Although she was in the driving seat when it came to creating her wedding ring “I couldn’t decide between white and black diamonds, so I thought why do I need to decide? I’ll just have both!” That’s quite a job perk.
Check out Michelle Oh’s website here.