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Indonesia-born Chinese designer Erny Pontoh Johnstone is making strides in Asia’s fine jewellery sector, thanks to her innate flair for beauty and innovative use of diamonds and coloured gemstones.
A private banker by profession, the designer decided to pursue her passion for jewellery in 2009 and eventually founded Kura Fine Jewellery of Hong Kong.
Johnstone sat with JNA to talk about her transition into the world of jewellery design and her long-term business strategies.
JNA: What inspired you to forge a new path in jewellery design?
Erny Pontoh Johnstone: I was in the finance industry for 10 years. I then got married and started to move around the world with my husband, who is also banker. I decided to start my own business since I was moving around a lot and having my own business gave me more flexibility. Why jewellery? Because it is one of my passions. I love buying and collecting jewellery during my days as a private banker. To equip myself with the necessary skills, I enrolled myself at the Gemological Institute of America to learn more about diamonds, gemstones and pearls, and the philosophy behind jewellery design. I am lucky that I have a very good relationship with my ex-private banking clients because they were my initial customers. Through word of mouth, I eventually was able to build a solid customer base of high-net worth private clients mostly based in Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong as well.
JNA: Who are your biggest design influences?
Johnstone: I don’t have anyone or anything in particular but if I have to choose one, I would say my main inspiration came from my company logo, which is a turtle shell. My brand is Kura Fine Jewellery, and kura means turtle in the Indonesian language. And from this logo, I came up with my signature collection, The Cage.
JNA: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Johnstone: My main design philosophy is versatility. My designs can be worn in many different ways to showcase a variety of looks, which are perfect for all occasions. I would like to believe that through my jewellery designs, my customers are able to freely express themselves and their distinct personalities.