Why You Need to Know Hong Kong Jewelry Designer Nicholas Lieou
There’s nothing predictable about Hong Kong talent Nicholas Lieou, whose collection ranges from the refined Tentacle cuff and earrings, made of 18K gold dipped in black ruthenium with pearls, to over-the-top, Rococo-style pieces like the Orchid earrings, set in palladium and featuring tanzanite with pavé diamond wings. “There is a poetry in these paradoxes,” Lieou says. “There’s a natural symbiosis between minimalism and maximalism, strength and fragility, masculine and feminine.”
Approaching jewelry as an art form, he started out as an apprentice for Shaun Leane, the avant-garde British jewelrymaker, before working at Georg Jensen and Shanghai Tang, and as the design director of high jewelry at Tiffany & Co. He relaunched his own label, Mr. Lieou, earlier this year.
Inspiration: “Aesthetically, I am drawn to sea life, monochromatic graphics, interiors that change your mood, antique Japanese lacquer boxes, the asymmetrical floral displays of Makoto Azuma, Dutch tulip paintings, William Morris . . . I could go on!”
Design philosophy: “I always ask what if? What if we add this or supersize these proportions? And what can I take away to make this more elegant?”
Favorite work: The Maharaja rock crystal necklace. “I made it at a time when I was relatively fearless, knowing full well I’d probably never be able to sell it, but we went ahead anyway.”
See his exquisite pieces below.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Late Fall issue under the headline “Hidden Gems.” Subscribe to the magazine.