Emily Gao considers herself an engineer as much as a jewellery designer.
The 25-year-old Torontonian behind the accessories line JY Gao harnesses everyday kinetic energy to create jewellery with independent moving parts that swing, dangle, and oscillates when activated by the movement of the wearer. “It’s partly engineering because you envision something to look great, but when you actually test it out on the human body, it might not have the same effect,” Gao says of the trial-and-error process. She often prototypes her designs using inexpensive materials such as hinges from hardwares stores before rendering the finished product using sterling silver. (If the term ‘kinetic jewellery’ sounds unfamiliar that’s because “its something I sort of invented,” she says.)
Currently, JY Gao is an under-the-radar accessories label founded in 2016 (a pair of the label’s earrings appeared in a shoot in the October 2018 issue of FASHION), but it may not stay that way for long, since Gao received a massive cash infusion after winning second place in China’s largest design competition, which awards cash prizes in excess of $1 million. (In comparison, the prestigious LVMH Prize gives out one 300,000-euro and one 150,000-euro prize each year.)