We stand along the Chao Phraya River's west bank in Thailand, taking in the beauty and learning the history of the Wangderm Palace.
Though clearly Thai in its architecture, the structure is actually considered the first Thai building influenced by American aesthetics.
As we move along the grounds, we learn there are shrines to whalebones, Thai coins, and antique ceramics located here. Thailand is also the home of featured jewelry designer Rudklow Patanaanunwong.
Known to many as Aoy, Patanaanunwong (hereafter "Aoy") looked forward to a career working for the Bank of Thailand after receiving Master and Bachelor Degrees in Economics from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Her life's trajectory changed, however, once she met her future husband, who owned a silversmith workshop in Chiang Mai. Fully aware of her country's rich history of extraordinary metalwork, Aoy's own innate gifts were stirred. "I changed my mind about working at the bank, and after I married I moved to Chiang Mai from Bangkok," she recalls. "I started helping out at my husband's workshop."
Aoy's designs are clean, elegant, and modern while also maintaining some traditional Thai aesthetics. Aoy works with sterling silver, and shows off the great level of beauty in unembellished metal. Whether the finish is brushed, matte, or high gloss the absence of gemstones takes nothing away from a pair of sterling silver earrings or silver cuff bracelets.
There is the intricate detailing of Aoy's Fern Basket Earrings; the liquid-like flow of the Silver Wave Cuff, and the understated yet intricate Leaf Dance Bracelet.
As beautiful as gemstones are there is no mistaking how captivating precious metal is by itself; whether smooth and unadorned or carved out with arabesque details.
Aoy takes pride that she and her husband maintain a hands-on approach to jewelry making; skills she feels are losing their prominence.
"Craftsmanship is slowly being replaced by machines and factories. We use our hands to create our collections. We believe it is our duty to preserve this longstanding art form."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Barrel Cuff Bracelet
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Joyous Dancer Earrings