Jewelry Diversity: A Taiwanese Designer at a Finnish Brand

Designing for Lapponia has afforded Ms. Kuo a chance to focus more diligently on her time-consuming private work, a series of intricate pieces in which she uses Keum-boo, a painstaking ancient Korean technique. It involves depleting silver with several applications of acid, until the silver has a snow-white finish, and then gilding it with 24-karat gold foil.

“It is definitely quality time for me, to be with myself, creating these works that may or may not be sold, but that are important to me,” said Ms. Kuo, who describes the gold and silver pieces she produces for Lapponia as “a simpler version of my artistic work.”

Lapponia was started in 1960 by Pekka Anttila, a Helsinki silversmith. Mr. Weckstrom joined him in 1963, producing a small line of chunky, modernist pieces whose unconventional designs were inspired by the frozen lakes and snowy landscapes in Finnish nature. The collection led to Mr. Weckstrom’s reputation as a pioneer in avant-garde and experimental jewelry.

“I wanted jewelry to be not just a symbol of wealth; I wanted it to be a symbol of culture and art,” said Mr. Weckstrom, who lives in Helsinki and Pisa, Italy. “The rich people were staying with their diamonds. The middle classes were the ones who wanted something different and new.”

By 1970, his work had won several global jewelry awards and in 1977, Carrie Fisher wore his Planetoid Valleys necklace in her role as Princess Leia in the final scene of the first “Star Wars” film, still considered Lapponia’s greatest moment of fame.

Photo

Silver Wind necklace with lock No. 5, from Ms. Kuo’s own collection.

Credit
Touko Hujanen for The New York Times

The brand still sells Mr. Weckstrom’s designs on its website and at retailers worldwide. While his vintage pieces remain highly collectible — easily selling at auction for several thousand dollars and more — the Lapponia of today produces jewelry for a wider customer base at a lower price. (Kalevala Koru Oy, which doesn’t break out Lapponia’s results, reported total sales of 13.7 million euros, or $16.2 million, for its 2017 fiscal year, the 12 months ending in March.)

In the competitive global market, the company has sought to maintain its image as a modern, environmentally conscious Finnish brand: Its pieces are handmade from recycled metals in an energy-efficient…

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