And so its almost Valentine's Day and it's Chinese New Year at the weekend. It's funny how these occasions fall so close together every year as love and indeed China is really how Liwu Jewellery began.
I know many of you know the story but for those that don't, here is some insight about why I started to design and make Liwu Jewellery.
Back in 2011, I moved to China with my husband. We were young and oh so in love newlyweds and very excited by the opportunity to live and work abroad in Beijing, China!
Before we moved, I worked as a chartered accountant at one of Ireland's largest ladies clothing retailers. I loved it despite it been high pressured and long hours. I wasn't mad about accounting but loved working with all the creative departments in the organisation. It fed by need to be surrounded by beautiful things and creative people. However, in Beijing, I started working with a stainless steel company and soon started to miss the excitement of retail.
Beijing was also quite the culture shock for an Irish girl. The air was polluted, the crowds of people was crazy and level of wealth and high end designer consumerism was quite overwhelming. I missed the cafe culture, the creative and music scene of Dublin. I needed to seek out culture. I knew that China had a rich ancient history and culture. This could be seen in how my Chinese friends held some beliefs around Chinese New Year and how they decorated their homes. So I decided as well as studying Mandarin, I would enrol at the China Culture Centre and do a Chinese Calligraphy course. Here I discovered a culture and an explanation for their language. I also reconnected with my creative self which had been forgotten along with secondary school.
But it wasn't until I discovered the Chinese character for love that I thought about jewellery. Love, as a calligraphy character it is beautiful, but it was it's meaning that struck me. It means 'life to the heart and grace to the body' . The Chinese word for love actually means so much they don't say I love you to each other! You will often find the younger generations saying I Love you to each other in English. I wore every day a necklace in English that said 'love' and suddenly it felt so obvious and I immediately wanted a Chinese love necklace. It would so much more meaningful and subtle!
So when I started for looking for such a necklace, I couldn't find one! So I decided to get it made. Soon I started discovering more characters with lovely meanings and started sketching up necklaces and earrings and all sorts. But I continued life in Beijing and even had my first little girl all while investigating setting up a jewellery business.
When we returned to Ireland in 2014, I commenced silversmithing classes and my sketches were brought to life by the end of year when I did my first ever fair. It was my daughter's arrival then pushed me to set up Liwu Jewellery. I wanted to work but I also wanted to do something I loved if I was to be away from her.
These days Liwu Jewellery has expanded into Celtic jewellery but its beginnings is rooted in love and my journey to China.
Happy Year of the Pig!