Nina Nguyen Featured in INDESIGN April/March 2014


GOLDEN BEGINNINGS: “I used to help my mother trade gold in our hometown of Pleiku, Vietnam. Every Sunday, my mother would set up her little table, and workers from the nearby river who’d panned for gold would line up to sell my mother the gold they had found. My uncle used to make the beautiful sparkly gold dust into rings. My job was to bike to the market to deliver the gold. The gold rings were fastened on a chain for me to easily disguise under my clothes. This was to evade the communists’ eyes and ears on my parents. Being able to work with my family is a major part of my jewelry designing process today.”

FAVORITE STONES: “Anything that is unique, mineral, fossilized and can’t be found in a traditional jewelry store. Right now, I am obsessed with druzy and geodes.” 

                         Maharani Wisdom Cuff

THE GREATER GOOD: “I think all products should be made in a manner that benefits everyone involved. I would love for my jewelry to help bring this message: That people should always be concerned with where the things they purchase come from, who made them, where the materials came from, how long will it last, and what will become of it when its life is over.”

DESIGN INSPIRATION: “I first experienced wisteria’s allure as a tourist traveling through Tokyo by bicycle. Pedaling a bicycle path completely surrounded by wisteria, I was immediately fascinated by the graceful purple blossoms cascading into view. Wisteria’s enduring beauty and charm will be represented in my spring 2014 collection.”

Wisteria Melody Necklette

Wisteria Melody Necklette

CELEBRITY CONNECTION:  “In 2013, Miranda Lambert wore our Audrey earrings in black druzy to the season premiere of THE VOICE. That was such a pleasant surprise! Her stylist contacted my PR firm, so I guess my unique design is being mentioned in the celeb stylist circle.”

STYLE EVOLUTION: “I think my work has evolved as my personal preferences evolved. The styling of my design has changed from having a more modern and minimal look to having a somewhat classic, heirloom look while retaining the composition of a modern material”

STANDING ON PRINCIPLE: “In 2009, my line was represented by a New York showroom. I was dealing with the constant pressure from department stores and buyers to produce cheaper products. I don’t know how I did it, but I walked away from some very large purchase orders to focus on bettering my designs. The biggest achievement of my career was when I learned to stay focused on what I do, who I am, who my audience is and what my brand represents.

Q & A  / Getting Personal with Nina Nguyen

WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND WHEN YOU ARE NOT DESIGNING? “Children of Vietnam project. I plan to bring my experience to assist with raising more funds and bringing awareness to the organization.”
WHAT CAN’T YOU RESIST BUYING WHEN OUT SHOPPING? “Is there a hotline for Shoeaholics Anonymous?”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT AND WHY? “I moved to Boulder, Colorado a year ago. There is so much to do and it is always nice to wake up in my own bed since I am on the road so much.”
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY OTHER CAREER. WHAT WOULD IT BE? “Eco-handbag or eco-apparel designer. Have you tried to look for eco-clothes? I could see myself taking an interest in this industry.”

Inside Spread

by INDESIGN Magazine 


Two+Seven exclusive with Nina Nguyen!

When you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, what do you do? When you’re Nina Nguyen, you make jewelry. The Vietnamese jewelry designer went from crafting jewelry, to a career in finance, and back again. “Obsessed with natural organic stones,” Nina’s current collection is rocked out to the max, with glittering displays of bold druzy stone rings, necklaces and earrings. We chatted with the designer about her career change,  her social consciousness, and what’s next for this inspirational artist.

two + seven:  You’ve grown up designing jewelry, but somehow ended up with a career in finance. What led you astray from jewelry, and what was the turning point to come back to it?

Nina Nguyen: I ran astray from jewelry because I migrated to the US with my single mother and six siblings.  Designing and producing jewelry was a luxury that I could not afford. The turning point that brought me back to jewelry was when I was in Jaipur, and I bought some gems. After coming back to the US, I designed a small collection and had a trunk show at the local Ritz Carlton. This turned out to be a huge success. Mrs. Marriott was one of my first customers. I don’t think she knew it then but she purchased four of my necklaces at my first trunk show.

2+7: Tell us more about your ‘socially responsible jewelry fabrication.’ Was this a goal of yours when you first founded your company?

NN: Socially responsible jewelry fabrication was not a goal of mine when I first started my company. I traveled to China, India, Thailand and Vietnam to look for manufacturers to produce my line. I wasn’t too impressed with the work conditions and quality of work from these manufacturers.  Eventually, I decided to establish my production in Vietnam and overtime I learned about the challenges  some of my employees were facing. I wanted to help them in bettering their quality of life.

2+7: You use a lot of druzy, agate, and stalactites in your designs. What is it that draws you to this material?

NN: The materials I use in my collection change so much from season to season. Right now, I am obsessed with the natural organic stones.  I have a strange emotional attachment with these organic stones. I believe each of them tells a unique story. Think about it, you are wearing something noticeably beautiful that takes thousands of years to naturally form.

turquoise bracelet

2+7: From conceptualization to completion, what’s your design process like?

NN: I source for the most unique stone to work with for instant my geodes are from Mexico, Amethyst Druzy from Russia and ammonite fossils are from Madagascar. I always start my design with stone, than fabricate the design in my studio in Naples, FL.

2+7: What do you have in the works?

NN: I am working on a luxury staple “black-dress” collection for my line which involves sustainable diamonds. This is all I can tell you for now so stay tuned!

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Splendor: Nina Nguyen Designs

SPECIAL THANKS to Carlotta from SPLENDOR for her post about NINA NGUYEN DESIGNS
Read her post below: 

Located along the banks of Vietnam’s Perfume River is the Thien Mu pagoda, a 17th century Buddhist temple touted as one of the country’s most beautiful structures. Vietnam is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Nina Nguyen.

Who says expensive jewelry is the best jewelry out here?  Don’t get me wrong, plenty of high-end jewelry brands are gorgeous!

On the other hand, in my opinion fashion jewelry designers like Americans Melinda Raney of Melinda Maria Jewelry and Wendy Culpepper, German brand Bastian InverunHovey Lee (China) and Aya Azrielant (Israel) have their finger on the pulse of the everyday woman.

They understand that she is not a celebutante or jet setter.  They know that she is someone who is often pressed for time and money.  They recognize that she is someone who would love to indulge in what is fashionable without hurting her pocketbook.

Florida-based Nguyen is among the growing number of jewelry designers who create stunning, quality pieces at affordable prices.  Nguyen’s brand, Nina Nguyen Designs, is informed by worldwide travels and the hands-on experience its designer acquired during visits with her goldsmith uncle.

“In 2004, after a trip to India, I decided to change my career path from working in the financial industry to starting a jewelry design firm.  My collections including Hoi-Anand Sai-Gon are carefully handcrafted by skilled artisans in my company’s Women’s Co-Operative in Vietnam.Nguyen excels at delicate and buoyant designs that highlight varied textures and colors within pared down outlines of lush 22-karat gold plated sterling silver.  There are beautiful pendant necklaces, leather wrap bracelets, multi-strand necklaces and gemstone earrings showcasing briolette cuts of moonstone, blue topaz, labradorite, peridot, rose quartz, pink tourmaline and raw druzy and geodes.

It gives me much pleasure to contribute to the beauty of women. My hope is that every woman will enjoy wearing my jewelry as much as I enjoy designing each and every piece.””My jewelry is a reflection of my spirit. I design each piece to be unique, feminine and stylish. I envision my pieces empowering the wearer.