Fairina Cheng is a Sydney-based jewellery designer who works with couples to create custom, meaningful engagement and wedding rings and jewellery.
How would you describe your jewellery style?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. On the one hand, I love angular gemstones, geometry, and clean lines. But on the other hand, I love rustic pieces and organic shapes that could only have been created by chance.
The best thing about working with so many different customers is that I get to design pieces shaped by their personal styles and stories. This allows me to work in many different styles, so I get the best of both worlds!
Where do you find your inspiration? What influences your work?
I find my inspiration in my customers. Perhaps a couple is after an engagement ring that incorporates memories of their first holiday together in a beautiful beachside location. We might use gems the colour of the ocean. Be inspired by the waves and the night sky. And then engrave a phrase from a favorite song on the inside of the band.
When designs are inspired by special moments, they become more than just beautiful pieces of jewellery. They turn into keepsakes that will be treasured forever.
Do you love or loathe trends in the engagement and wedding jewelry space? Why?
That depends! There is a formula to a lot of engagement and wedding jewellery. Check out the chain store windows, and you might see ten cookie cutter rings that look almost exactly the same. But, on the other hand, there is also beautiful work coming from designers that are disrupting the traditional expectations of jewellery.
That’s what I love to see.
As a jeweller, I love being able to step away from the “rules” and make jewels that could only have been designed for their owner.
Do you have a studio or space where couples can meet and see pieces come to life, or have you embraced Zoom calls?
I have a private studio space where I design and make jewellery, and (outside of COVID) meet up with customers at a local café to sketch designs and view gemstones. We chat over the phone or online for interstate or overseas customers, sketching on the iPad, and sharing images.
Many customers start out with no idea what they’re after, and by the end of the chat, they have a pretty good vision of what their special piece of jewellery might look like.
What sort of materials do you work with? Has anything unusual or different been requested?
I predominantly work with precious metals such as platinum, gold, and silver. For gems, I love working with sapphires, salt and pepper diamonds and other coloured stones.
Some of the more unusual materials have included stainless steel mesh, moondust, and dog and cat fur from pets that left us too soon.
Tell us all about a dream project.
The projects I love most are, again, those with stories. A dream project would be one with stories woven in at every turn. For example, I’ve always wanted to go fossicking and find a rough sapphire that could be cut into a beautiful gem. Suppose I didn’t keep it for myself. In that case, I’d find the perfect home for it and create a rule-breaking engagement ring with components from pre-loved and inherited jewellery to minimise its environmental footprint.
While making the ring, I’d create a video showing how it came to life from a “jewellers-eye” view (with tools, flames and dirty hands) as a keepsake for its owner. Stories come in many forms, and it would be an absolute dream to be able to trace this ring’s story from the rough gem, fresh out of the ground, all the way to its new home.