Alumni Couple Garners Hollywood Attention by Marrying Avant-Garde, Art Deco Designs
January 7, 2016
Kavant and Sharart, the Thailand-based design house − comprised of husband and wife team Nuttapon (“Kenny”) Yongkiettakul and Shar-linn Liew − has collectively earned two Centurion Emerging Designer Awards, a JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award, a GIA Student’s Choice Award and recognition from the Cultured Pearl Association of America.
The couple’s acclaim within both design and jewelry-loving celebrity circles is, in large part, due to innovative designs like their self-coined “eartux.” Taking inspiration from the ear jacket concept, the piece goes a step further – making it appear as if the wearer has multiple piercings. Victoria’s Secret “angel” Adriana Lima has worn the eartux (and many other Kavant and Sharat pieces), and that design alone has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily , JCK and W Magazine.
Popular “Gem Gossip” fashion blogger (and Kavant and Sharart fan) Danielle Miele, a fellow GIA alum, says she was “quite impressed” with the Yongkiettakul’s and Liew’s designs as soon as she previewed their first collection.
“They make a unique husband and wife duo,” Miele says, “as both of their styles juxtapose one another in the best way possible.”
The core of Kavant and Sharart’s “aesthetic and philosophy” emphasizes their individual styles − and celebrates that of the woman wearing it.
“We believe it’s crucial to stay true to who you are, to focus on innovating and exploring your own sense of style,” says Liew, a GIA GG and AJP. The core of their “aesthetic and philosophy” follows that lead, she says, so they create “luxury jewelry that not only satisfies the wearer’s need to wear something charming, but also her desire for something original that highlights her personality through effortlessly elegant accessories.”
The couple’s different styles and inspirations – his, “avant-garde and organic, inspired by nature and the ocean” and hers, rooted in Art Deco, Oriental and Modern arts, inspired by geometric shapes – were each nurtured in childhood.
Yongkiettakul, a GIA GJ, GG, AJP and AJA, grew up in his family’s Bangkok jewelry store, which he watched grow from the “very humble beginnings” of a single retail counter near the city’s Victory Monument. Though Yongkiettakul studied chemical engineering in college, he joined his family’s business after graduation.
“Since I was young, my dad was always telling me about GIA, and that I must attend this prestigious school one day,” he says. “It was ingrained in my mind.”
Liew began dreaming of design as a young girl in Singapore, following her dress-maker/fashion-designer mother through the fabric markets of Hong Kong and into meetings with seamstresses.
“My mother had a very good eye for proportions and color concepts, and her attention to detail was acute,” she says. “I was immensely inspired. The concept of proportion and balance in design was instilled in me since I was young.”
The couple, who met in 2003, moved to California to pursue Yongkiettakul’s studies at GIA Carlsbad in 2007. Liew soon followed suit.
“My interest grew when Kenny shared his wonderful experience,” she says. Liew graduated with her Graduate Diamonds diploma in 2007 and later earned her AJP and her GG on campus in Thailand.
When the couple eventually prepared to marry, they also decided they wanted to merge their styles in one brand.
“We knew we wanted to work together when we were designing my wedding jewelry,” Liew says. “It was a logical transition to merge our two brands into one. Although we have different design aesthetics, the merge also allowed something for everyone – marrying the two different aesthetics somehow worked. We’re putting a woman’s and man’s perspective into one piece.”
They each procure gemstones and create designs for Kavant and Sharart, with Yongkiettakul managing most of the company’s quality control.
“I think the beautiful part about [our career] is being able to express our love for design through jewelry and gemstones,” Liew says. “Being able to materialize a design from a sketch to a finished product – and subsequently, when a customer buys it – the sense of fulfillment is very satisfying.”
Yongkiettakul says that GIA prepared the couple well for their careers.
“GIA serves as a solid foundation for anyone interested in this trade,” he says. “The knowledge you gain throughout your education will serve you well, but it’s definitely important to keep up with the latest news in the industry through journals like Gems & Gemology and visiting trade shows.”
As much as their GIA experience was “intense and fast,” it was also “enlightening and inspiring,” he says.
“Give it your best at each level, because six months fly by,” he says. “All the resources are in your hands.”
Jaime Kautsky, a contributing writer, is a GIA Diamonds Graduate and GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional and was an associate editor of The Loupe magazine.