Discover Benelux | Dutch Industry and Innovation | Made in the Netherlands
Standing out from the jewellery crowd TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: GEM KINGDOM
From necklaces with staring eyes to oversized earrings covered in mystical symbols, the bold and extravagant jewellery by Gem Kingdom is always instantly recognisable. Combining playful, eclectic designs with contrasting colours and unusual shapes, Gem Kingdom’s jewellery is not for those who want to blend in. Well-loved by Dutch celebrities, Gem Kingdom has built a name for itself all over the world in its 28 years of existence. Popular across Europe and Asia, co-founder Bernard Jongstra, who started the brand with Johanna Titselaar, still cannot get enough of designing new pieces. “We call it the ‘happy business’,” Jongstra begins. “Jewellery is not something essential like, for example, clothes are, as you’d 14 | Issue 53 | May 2018
get cold without them. People wear jewellery because they find it beautiful and it makes them happy. It gives us a lot of satisfaction, and we have a big, loyal fan base who are always keen to see what we’ll do next.”
quickly picked up internationally. He says: “A jewellery collection only uses a small bit of space, so it can be easily added to the collection of a clothing store.” From this initial success, Gem Kingdom continued to grow every year.
From punk beginnings to a global breakthrough
Mixing and matching
Having met at high school, the pair launched the brand after they started selling their self-made jewellery at street fairs and festivals. Jongstra: “This was the time of punk: you didn’t need a degree or have a background in a certain field, you’d just start doing it.”
Using various materials, including sterling silver, horn, porcelain, pearls, onyx and gemstones, Gem Kingdom designs and assembles the pieces in Amsterdam. While sometimes inspired by classical jewellery, they often use asymmetrical designs, raw-looking materials and mixed pearls or gemstones.
Helped by friends in the fashion industry, the two managed to get their collections on display in various clothing stores at home and abroad. The extravagant and outspoken style of the jewellery was
Gem Kingdom’s unorthodox style immediately grabs attention, and a statement piece acts as a conversation starter. Jongstra continues: “We always create a story around our collections. Usually, this