Jewelry & Watches

This Jewelry Brand Gives Vintage-Inspired Designs A Contemporary Twist

Korean jewelry brand Minetani introduces its “haute couture” pieces to Manila.
IMAGE COURTESY MINETANI
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"Not many people know that before I came here, I was a jewelry designer in Korea,” shares Vicki Kim-Delgado. Now based in Manila, Delgado continues to be involved in creative direction, stone selection, and purchasing, and business development of Minetani, her family’s jewelry brand, while her sister, Sunny Kim, is the company’s design director. “Our mom designs the fine jewelry line, and my sister and I design special collections,” says Kim.

Young Mee Ahn, Vicki and Sunny’s mother and the company founder/president, first opened her jewelry salon in the Gangnam area in the 1990s. Her bespoke jewelry line, Mine, features rare and beautiful gems in unique, contemporary settings, which soon gained popularity among Korea’s public figures and society mavens.


Sisters Sunny Kim and Vicki Kim-Delgado

In 2006, the family launched a second line called Minetani in upscale multi-label stores. Minetani was created to reach a larger clientele base, yet still embodying the “haute couture” philosophy of Mine.

And in 2010, they launched their third line, Tani by Minetani, at Corso Como Seoul. Designed by Kim, Tani by Minetani substitutes rare gems with Swarovski crystals, and each piece is meticulously handcrafted, setting it apart from other costume jewelry lines. “What appealed to our clients was that it looks like fine jewelry, but it’s actually made of crystals. Everything is set by hand in the tradition of fine jewelry.”

The art of high-and-low

It’s no accident that all three jewelry lines go together beautifully. “We believe in mixing and matching fine jewelry with costume jewelry—a high-and-low mix,” says Kim. It’s a philosophy they’ve picked up from their fashion-forward mom. Delgado attests, “She thinks that you should have at least one special piece of jewelry on you that embodies your characteristics, and you can mix and match it with something that’s chic and currently in fashion, the way you can wear Chanel with H&M. You don’t have to wear diamonds from top to bottom.”

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From a practical standpoint, Delgado says, “If you are constantly sweating on your real pearls, they will lose their luster. So during the day when I’m doing my errands, or when I travel and I don’t want to worry about the security of my jewelry, I wear my [Tani] Swarovski pearls.”

Jewelry trends

Season after season, they beguile their clients by capturing the romance of bygone eras in their modern designs. “Our brand is vintage-inspired; we like classic looks, like Art Deco, but we give it a contemporary twist,” says Kim. “Our mom doesn’t like anything traditional or conventional; she likes different sizes of stones, different colors of stones all mixed together.”

Joining the sisters at a recent trunk show was jewelry expert, gemology professor, and book author Sungwon Yoon who shared her expertise on current jewelry trends. Yoon suggests veering away from traditional jewelry sets, and instead, advocates mixing classic designs with modern styles, as well as wearing jewelry in unexpected ways.


“Stacking rings is very in. If you are a novice, then you can buy them already stacked,” says Yoon. “Don’t worry about mixing metals; these days, one can mix yellow, white, and rose gold all at the same time.”

“Chokers are also in,” she says. “For fall/winter, we have a lot of velvet chokers, which you can layer with crystal or Y-shaped necklaces,” Kim adds. “At the recent Emmy Awards, Jane Fonda wore a backless gown with an emerald necklace—but she wore [the Y-shaped necklace] backward, and it was beautiful.”


Oversize earrings are also a key piece this season. “Wear them long, like shoulder-dusters,” says Kim. “Mismatched earrings are fun, too; wear one long earring, and a stud on the other side.” Yoon also notes that big hoop earrings in yellow gold or pink gold are back, and are great worn with suits for a chic contrast.

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When it comes to gemstones, the season’s stars are opals, paraiba tourmaline, rubellite, pink and red spinels, tanzanite, tsavorite, and pearls, especially in irregular shapes. “Minetani’s strongest point is that each piece is uniquely designed for its individual stone’s color and beauty in an original design,” attests Yoon. “What draws clients to Minetani is the fine quality of its pieces. They are trend-sensitive and stylish, but elegant and classic.”

Next up: Delgado is currently collaborating with her mom and sister on a new collection to be launched in Korea this month. “It will be an ode to my mom’s old designs and bestsellers,” she says. Minetani and Tani by Minetani will be available in Manila through seasonal trunk shows, and through Bijoux Fäh.

This story was originally published in the December 2017-January 2018 issue of Town&Country.

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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