Friday afternoon, we came to Jewel Rocks’ offline store at Seminyak. The Sun which comes through the store’s window made a delightful reflection between the sunlight and the jewelry stones. We had a warm afternoon with Imelda Widjaja as the store owner of Jewel Rocks, talking about fashion, culture, and gender through her point of view as a creative person itself.
How did you develop the beginning idea for Jewel Rocks as a brand?
It started when I went traveling to India and get to know about one of their cultures: Raksha Bandhan. It’s about celebrating the unique bond between a brother and his sister through the bracelet. And I found it very interesting how accessories can be a strong symbol of relationship attachment. It also reminded me of our childhood, when we usually bought a bracelet for our best friends. Interesting story, when I first moved to Bali in 2006, I made accessories design for other brands. But after 2 years, I feel like I started to have the idealism to make jewelries that I adore. So I slowly tried to invent my jewelry brand with added value through materials that are more experimental, like silver, stones, carved resin, etc.
Can you describe about your brand?
Jewel Rocks is a jewelry brand that represents diverse cultures. The inspiration comes a lot from Art, Culture, and Travel. Because it’s a reflection of different cultures and colors, it’s also related to the jewelry-making process itself. Some processes are done traditionally, with a modern twist from the design. So I can say the direction of the brand is Contemporary Art. As you can see, one of our products, Ceremony Jade, the original stone of Rakhi Bracelet, is actually green. But we modified it to be more modern and “more like Jewel Rocks”. I feel Cultures and places are the biggest influences on my brand because everyone can relate to them.
From many fashion items, why jewelry?
At the beginning of my career, I have a brand for various merchandise: fashion, home decor, and jewelry. And when I’m thinking about the future long-term brand that I want it to be specific with, jewelry is the answer. It is more suitable for me at that time (budget-wise and the creative process). At first, it started with my friends buying it, and slowly the customers’ circle got bigger, and luckily it was always sold out.
Do you have any specific impression or feeling that you want to convey through the items that you created?
Mostly, I want to give certain feelings or nostalgic moods from places or something that I imagine. It’s like a mix between real things and imaginations. For example Japanese on the Moon collection. The idea came from one of my dreams when I was sleeping. In that dream, I saw the Japanese flying with UFO wearing cute dresses, and Neko(s) are flying in the air. It was a short dream, but it stays in my mind because it is unique and interesting. The dream gave me certain feelings between stunned and surreal, also made me experience the Japanese vibe too. So yeah, the impressions from the brand are always a mix between fantasy and culture.
But how do you feel about Bali as an inspiration?
Another fascinating fact, the latest collection from Jewel Rocks, Neon Yogi, is about Bali. It’s about a group of people. I don’t want to bring any fundamental perspective about Bali. So I’m interested to capture the people more specifically, as an example the Yoga-Ubudian people from this Neon Yogi collection. I’m interested in them personally because they are a bunch of people who are looking for enlightenment, meditation, Ashram (a week of no-talking, just silent, and focusing to be more mindful and conscious with the present life). So Neon Yogi for me is a person who is looking for a spiritual wellness journey. I see them as inspiration for a new kind of people. Bali always has a way to surprise me even if I have already moved to this island since 2006.
Talking about Jewel Rocks. The brand’s vibe is quite feminine, and you as the owner are a female. What do you think about gender in this industry? Is it necessary to think about it or not?
Being a woman or a man or something else, I think it has never been an issue in my life. Because I feel like it’s just about who you are naturally and what you want to be. So if you feel different from everybody else, you should embrace and celebrate that! And about femininity, it’s lovely to be feminine but I prefer to be in between. For example when I look up to fashion, most likely my eyes will catch interest in Menswear because it vibes me better. I like to mix and match between feminine and masculine stuffs, so I don’t like to put things in a specific box. The special thing about Jewel Rocks, I feel like it is more unisex. It’s very versatile, and everyone can find who they are in this brand. Because so far, when customers came to our store, they always found pieces that feel like, “Ah, this is me!“
What do you think about the “trend” in fashion industry, specifically jewelry? Does Jewel Rocks’ creativity follow the trends that are happening or do you prefer not to join the trends and just focus on what you want to create?
It will never be enough if you follow the trend. And I found a lot of them are just focusing on the quantity. It’s totally different from what I believe personally as a Jewelry Maker. I rather focus on my creative process and the quality of each item. It’s our priority here in Jewel Rocks. For me, it’s important to define the character of your products, cross-check the quality of each item that we made, and also get connected personally with the designs, as simple as liking or feeling satisfied with your own creations. Don’t make things only to please others.
From the process of jewelry making, which part that you enjoy personally?
The design process. It always feels like a journey of self-discovery. It’s like those moments when you do some specific activity that makes you feel challenged yet peaceful.
How about activities in Bali? Do you ever feel there’re activities that can only be done in Bali?
Of course I had! It may sound really personal. Like my design process. I think I can only do it in Bali because of the atmosphere and nature. It’s the biggest part that gives comfort during my design process. Because I feel like when in Bali, I become more spontaneous and free. When I got stuck, I just need to step my feet to the outdoors, simply to feel the fresh air of windy Bali surroundings. Bali is not perfect, but it always has its charm. I simply can feel better and grateful just by going around, looking at the trees and Balinese housetops in Ubud. Those are simple activities that I feel thankful for being in Bali. It even feels like home.
Last question. A recommended place to go in Bali?
Nusa Dua beach, Drifter Cafe in Uluwatu for hangout. For food, you should go to Black Sheep Pizza and Pica South American Kitchen. Last but not least, Warung Pulau Kelapa for local taste!
Mel of Jewel Rocks
written by Tiarma
photos by Sharon Angelia