When it comes to making jewellery, sometimes the best way to stand out is to stick with the status quo. After all, there’s no shortage of talented and innovative designers trying to carve out niches for themselves by using eclectic materials, avant-garde shapes, and obscure reference points.
Not Vi and Priscilla Phan. These local “sisterpreneurs” aren’t trying to reinvent the accessory wheel with their OhKuol jewellery line. Instead, they’re proving that keeping to the classics (and occasionally adding a subtle modern twist here and there) is the new way of practising nonconformity.
Their handmade semiprecious pieces are so sublime in their simplicity that to clutter them with any gratuitous flourishes would be a shame. Take the Emerald Elegance drop earrings ($69), for example—just a beautifully cut green onyx cushion stone and a teal quartz teardrop stone set in brass with 18-karat-gold plating. They offer just enough romantic sparkle to catch the eye at night without blinging out all over the place. In other words they get noticed but don’t steal the show, which means you can wear them over and over again. So which sister deserves the credit for designing timeless lovelies like these?
“I come up with a design and she tells me yea or nay,” says Vi with a laugh during a recent interview at the OhKuol booth at Portobello West. The sisters are all giggles as they debate who is the real control freak of the two. But one thing they’re both clear on is how proud they are of their finished products—and so they should be.
The label, which the Phans launched in 2008, is sold online (at ohkuol.com/) as well as at Barefoot Contessa (3715 Main Street and 1928 Commercial Drive) and Meadow Gifts & Apparel (104 Water Street). One of the designs that’s been in their collection almost since the beginning is the vermeil gold teardrop ring (starting at $62). This season, the hot gemstone is the champagne citrine—a gorgeous amberish stone that will look smokin’ à la carte or with other stones. Again, this ring is versatile enough to work in any setting.
“Yeah, they’re for everyday,” Priscilla says, “but when you stack them, they take you right into night.”
Another OhKuol design that’s great with evening wear is the metallic tassel necklace (starting at $189). A bit more glam than what we’re used to seeing from the Phan sisters, this pendant piece boasts a sphere accented with rainbow moonstones, set in sterling silver with black rhodium plating and black, gold, and silver pyrite chains dangling from it.
“It’s so retro-inspired,” says Vi of their art deco dazzler. “I like to wear it longer so it dances with you.”
Also relatively new is the Druzy series. Here, we have gorgeous agate in several colours, including misty lilac, fuzzy peach, and smoky grey. They only introduced these rough yet sparkly, quartz-encrusted earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces into the OhKuol collection last year, but they’ve already become some of their bestsellers.
This year, the sisters also have an extensive selection of one-of-a-kind Brazilian amethyst pieces, which pop with vibrant purples.
“I love the colours—the way they’ve got such a subtle hit of sparkle. You can’t replicate that,” says Vi, mindful of not taking all the credit. “I mean, this is all nature.”