Osti Lee, a former Hong Kong-based graphic designer, has set himself the task of creating a bold jewelry style using a rich color palette and sculptural forms.
A backdrop of orchids and lush plants combined with Zen and Art Deco touches make visitors feel like they are in a botanical garden at Osti Lee’s design studio and boutique in Hong Kong.
Green is everywhere, and Lee’s creations shimmer with color, especially in emerald hues. The love of green stems from the fact that the former graphic designer who launched the brand in 2017 grew up in the rolling green countryside of Qing Yi, the island and transportation hub of Hong Kong’s New Territories, once home to farmers, fishermen and stilt houses. In fact, in a government document of the Ming Dynasty, the waters of the island are poetically called the ocean of spring flowers.
“I hope to create something completely different,” says Lee, who is trying to rock the boat of tranquility with sophisticated new technologies and materials. His sculptural achievements are underpinned by a rich palette and an unusual selection of gemstones such as star sapphires, which exhibit a special optical phenomenon called asterism, a six-rayed star pattern.
Favorite materials are 18-karat gold, enamelled, and special rhodium-plated, which offers a choice of all colors of the rainbow. Lee’s exotic gemstones range from blue sapphires to padparadscha sapphires, carved jade, onyx, lapis lazuli, blue tourmaline, sphene (for more information on sphene, see our article: Sphene – fire that can beat a diamond), Paraiba tourmalines and pink diamonds.
Lee worked as a designer at the Hong Kong Design Institute, a creative incubator whose alumni included Aries Xing, founder of the fashion label Modement, and Mosi Mosi’s Komma Leung, creator of wallets for the blind. The 38-year-old loves modern art, but his uncle instilled in him a respect for jade carving and antique restoration. Lee also worked with Swiss jeweler Adler in Hong Kong and local jeweler Wendy Yue.
Eastern religions permeate Lee’s designs. “I love Indian and local cultures, including some Hindi and religious ideas, and old Egyptian styles,” explains Lee. “Symmetrical patterns always appear in my jewelry.”
Lee’s ring “Indigoing Garuda” pays tribute to the patron bird Garuda, which is part of India’s national insignia and is also found in Indonesian symbolism. The yellow gold ring (bottom) is adorned with Brazilian mint green tourmaline, fancy yellow diamonds, tsavorites and champagne diamonds.
However, his favorite spot to find beauty is an island further from the Indian subcontinent: Mykonos in Greece. “I admire the local people of Mykonos as well as the scenery,” says Lee. “I worked and lived there for a few years when I was in the villa business, which gave me a lot of memories and inspiration.”
Back in Hong Kong, Lee confesses that he loves to challenge his masters. “I work closely with my workshop and I have known the owner for over 10 years,” says Lee. “It is located across the street, which makes our communication simple and efficient. From time to time, arguments really inspire new ideas and creativity, ”he adds, smiling.
“These are not quarrels, but I always require a very detailed study of all the elements for my jewelry, therefore, in order to satisfy my requirements, I have to discuss a lot.”