Full Circle in The Standard - Gamble in Gems
A big thank you to Jourdan Ma who featured my project in the HK Standard
Sarah Ho is a rising star in her own right. The granddaughter of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, who grew up out of the limelight, is designing jewelry that rule the red carpet.
While at a young age, her parents - Robert Ho and English model Suki Potier - were killed in a car crash. She and her sister Faye were brought up in Macau.
"It was not easy, but my grandparents and family members always took good care of me," Ho said. "When bad things happen to you, you become more humble and grateful. I have always been the quietest one in the family."
Her late grandmother Clementina Leitao was her muse. "I was always mesmerized by her head-to-toe jewelry. She would have matching gemstones no matter what outfit she was wearing. If she was in yellow, she would wear citrine. She got every type of stone - from rubies, sapphires and malachites to quartzes," she recalls.
At 12, Ho was sent to London where she attended fashion school and traced the life of her late mother, who was a style icon in the 1960s.
She didn't want to waste a single moment. She studied part-time while working full-time for different design houses and public relations firms. She also had a stint at Marie Claire.
She soon found out that jewelry design was her true calling. After completing formal training in gemology and diamond grading, she founded her namesake brand in 2006.
Her passion has set her new path in motion. To build the company from the ground up, she only got a marketing assistant. Her one-bedroom flat in London served as her office.
She explained: "You have to watch every penny that you are putting in, otherwise the company won't go far."
Her husband Samuele Serreli has been the sales director since 2009.
"We are together all day. We take the kids to school, start work, get a sandwich for lunch and have dinner together. We sometimes argue and everyone just leaves the office," Ho joked.
Now she leads a team of seven in London. Her morning is split between e-mails and group brainstorming. When she is at the design desk, she always puts on her headphones.
She travels frequently with her husband to oversee production in Italy.
"The two of us can have a nice dinner after work. It goes back to when we were dating," she said.
Her romantic and whimsical side is shown in her bespoke pieces. Ready-to-wear collections are sold in upscale retailers around the world. She said Europeans have a penchant for dainty pieces while those from the Middle East look for uniqueness and inventiveness. In Hong Kong, her creations are available at Harvey Nichols at The Landmark.
Her most iconic is the award-winning Numerati collection made up of rings in shapes of numerals.
She has also headed up jewelery design for renowned houses including Swarovski and William and Son in London.
Distinguished by exquisite details, geometric lines and femininity, her creations have captivated celebrities including Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Lily Donaldson, Ellie Goulding, Pixie Lott and Carina Lau Kar-ling.
"I want women who wear my jewelery to feel joy, confidence and love," she said.
Her latest jewelry collection, also known as the Full Circle Project, is leading clients into appreciating the rustic beauty of the gems.
She has struck up partnerships with industry players Gem Forest and Suwaidi Pearls to source gemstones from Tanzania, Madagascar, Vietnam and other places.
She explained: "Seeing the final pieces gives me butterflies in my stomach. But I am also fascinated to find out what these stones have been through, from the minute they were mined, polished up to being cut by experts' hands. I think my clients would want to know that as well."
The project is also an effort to give back to the environment.
Part of the profits will be allocated to environmental projects. A case in point is tree planting in Madagascar.
The first eight sets of rings and earrings were recently showcased in Hong Kong and additional pieces will be unveiled in September.
As the brand develops, her goal is to spend more time with her kids, who are now six and nine.
Every summer the family heads to Sardinia, where she and her husband own a beach club.
"It opens from May to September. We spend two months there as our jewelry production house in Italy closes in summer. That's our summer business," she said.