I’d been following Michelle Oh on instagram for a while so when she said yes to my studio visit to her East London studio I was over the moon. One of the things that I really appreciated about Michelle was the sincerity and transparency of her posts. While reading them, you almost feel like you’re doing the jewelry with her, going to meetings together or just giddy cause you just finished a beautiful ring. It’s hard to pull that out with a photo and a small comment and hashtags but only naturals like Michelle can do just that. It only gets better when you meet her in person cause she’s all what you expected her to be plus a lot more funny and laughing all the time (which is a shame that you can’t hear it on her social media).
I first came across Michelle’s work on Boticca and was immediately stunned by her work. It has a very organic feel to it, at the time laborious and detailed and with very interesting textures. Some of her rings would fall in the alternative bridal category, but they are much more than that. They are at the time delicate and feminine and stacked together they can give a bold look or just tell a very interesting story.
Michelle graduated from Central Saint Martins and started her own business soon after graduating. She strives to use recycled metals and materials when possible and as one woman show, she does everything herself, from start to finish. As she started developing her business and selling more of her pieces she grew her bespoke side of business, working a lot on custom engagement rings.
As I walk into her studio space I’m greeted with a big smile, lots of laughter and cookies (doesn’t get any better than this!). Michelle has an easy laugh and lots of positive energy that fill up the space. I’m smitten by her jewelry and absolutely love the textures and feel of the pieces. I keep taking photos of the jewelry and forgetting that I’m there to shoot the space.
Even though Michelle shares her studio with 3 other designers, you can see her mark on some of the objects lying around. There’s the blue ceramic vase where she usually puts flowers and a bowl with dried reef and shells. In the middle of the studio you find a huge chalkboard with thank you notes, drawings and notes. Michelle’s bench has a distinctive red dot piece of fabric to catch the filling dust and two bench pins. The red dots fabric is just unexpected and fun, like Michelle is. Everything else seems to be organized in drawers, little glass jars or acrylic boxes and a to do list is on the wall in front of the bench. The space is clearly very practical and you can hardly believe that four jewelers work here cause it’s so clean and organized.
Overall, I have the feeling that I spent the whole time at Michelle’s studio laughing and just hanging out with a good, old friend. It helps that Rachel Boston, which is one of the jewelry designers that shares the studio with Michelle and is one of her good friends, is there to make it even more fun. I have very good photos of the two of them laughing and I feel that those have to come with a behind the scenes post of both their studio visits.
Getting to know Michelle and her jewelry in person was better than I had ever imagined. Her good humor and laughter is contagious and her talent has a jeweler and has a listener to her client’s wishes are rare to find. Thank you so much for a lovely studio visit and I wait impatiently to see on instagram what Michelle’s working on next!
MICHELLE OH JEWELLERY
How did you become a jewelry designer?
“I studied it in university and really enjoyed making things that people can wear. I think it was only after successfully selling a few initial pieces that I decided I could turn a hobby into a career.”
What’s the first thing you do when you get to the studio?
“Have coffee and a little chat with the other girls at the studio.”
What do you like most about your space?
“The location (being close to Hatton Garden) is perfect for jewellers and I also love being able to come in and see my friends everyday because we share our studio.”
Pick 3 objects in your studio that make your space yours.
” – The “bar cart” was stocked with mini liqueur bottles when we first moved in, but these days is looking more like a “tea cart”!
– a blue and white jug we use to put our weekly flowers in,
– my bench!”
What’s your favorite spot in the studio?
“My jewellery bench! Without it I wouldn’t quite feel at home here”
Any studio rituals?
When I use the sonic machine I like to watch the dirty particles leave the jewellery being cleaned. I don’t know why but it’s very satisfying!”
What do you love/hate doing at the bench?
I love soldering (and quenching!!!) It can be a therapeutic activity for the day.
I find filling a little boring sometimes.”
What makes you procrastinate?
“GOSSIPING WITH THE GIRLS IN THE STUDIO!!!
( you know how it goes…)
What is currently inspiring you?
“I really like prints, patterns and textures in textiles from various cultures. This maybe something to pursue in my next collection.”
What piece of jewelry do you always wear?
“These days, I’m always wearing my engagement ring, which was made for me by my friend and studio mate Ayako Kanari. I also always wear my Anemone half eternity ring which I made for myself last year “
Currently obsessed with which gemstone/metal?
“Currently obsessed with OPALS!!
They feature a lot in some new pieces I’ve been working on which will be available soon”
Piece of jewelry you’re most proud of?
“I thing the ANEMONE half eternity rings are my favorite creations so far ”
What’s your dream jewelry piece?
“I would love to make an eternity necklace with 100 of the most beautiful opals set in 22K gold.”
Worst piece of jewelry you had to design/create?
“Definitely everything I ever made in university during foundation year where I didn’t yet know how to properly do anything”
What’s the longest period you spent at the studio and why?
“I once stayed in the studio until 2am making stock to send out the following day – it happens!”
The best thing a client ever told you?
“A client once told me I made her the engagement ring she always wanted even though we had never met in person. Reading her email I felt very touched.”
The funniest thing a client ever told you?
“That I look like “Dora, the explorer”
(I had a bob with a fringe at that time!)
What’s on your desk right now?
Too many things to name, it’s so messy right now. To be honest, it’s ALWAYS messy!
What’s your favorite tool? (can you draw it for us?)
” I love this thing I use it all the time I don’t know what you’d call it…tweezers? But they self-lock, I can’t live without it. Plus they are heat resistant so I can get REALLY close while soldering.”
If you weren’t a jeweler?
“I think I could be a decent illustrator…or if I’m allowed to dream then maybe a shoe maker. I love shoes.”