“Life is so precious why do something someone has already done?”
“The industry literally found me,” says Kenny Hwang of one fateful day in 1996. The young New York City-based jewelry designer had laid out his wares on a steel-folding chair between Mercer and Prince Street with the hopes of making a sale, when a well-dressed woman approached him.
“Where do you sell your pieces,” she asked.
“Right here,” he responded. She was the editor of Mirabella magazine and asked if she could borrow a piece for a shoot. “I told her I couldn’t lend it, because I had to eat and didn’t have any money,” says Hwang. She offered him half the price of the necklace as collateral and returned it in a couple of days. A month later, the 25-year-old jewelry designer received a call from the fashion director at Neiman Marcus, Joan Kaner, asking to carry his collection. She’d seen it in Mirabella. Hwang ran across the street to pick up the magazine, and there it was, a full-page shot of his necklace.
Around the same time, Hwang found himself at a round table discussion on jewelry with talents like Carlos Falchi and Donna Karan, both of which he would later work with.
The industrial steel, cement, and mixed metals found throughout the landscape of Manhattan ignited the Gotham native’s love of design at an early age.
Kenny’s first collection “Recycled Glass” featured shards of found broken bottles repurposed into beautiful rings, necklaces, and bracelets set in pure silver. Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys New York all picked up the line.
These days, Kenny has scaled back his private lable business and now creates custom pieces for international clients.
After twenty years of hard work, Kenny now is able to be discerning with his women and has the time to pair each piece with their respective personalities.
While much has changed in the course of his career, his art continues to come from the same inspired source: the deconstructed city.