From India to Thailand, Australia to Paris and everywhere in between, swimwear designer Wil Ariyamethe cherishes these rings handed down from her mother's travels. The designer behind Thapelo Paris. shares the story of these fine pieces, acquired all around the world.
How did all of these beautiful rings come into your life? "My mom passed them down to me. My mom travels, mainly in Southeast Asia. She lives in Australia, she loves to travel, and she's currently in Japan. Now that she's retired, she also donates her time to a Buddhist temple, so they [send] her to Japan or Thailand, she was in Sri Lanka—she travels a lot more than I do! I get little presents that trickle in, which is a nice surprise."
So tell us about the different rings. "It's all various styles––it's a little bit of a mishmash! A lot of them are colored stones and diamonds, one is emerald—it's a little bit of an Art Deco square design—and a big diamond flower. There are some rings from India, some rings from Thailand and a simple Van Cleef gold band, which I think she got from the US. There's a big floral ring from Thailand and a Venetian wedding ring engraved by hand, it's yellow gold."
And they're all from different places, which is really significant!
"They're all from different places. I [also] love traveling, my father used to work for Thai Airways, so the whole family loves to travel and [everyone in] my family lives in different places, and we're constantly moving as well, so I think it's hereditary."
I love the idea of collecting beautiful pieces from wherever we go, it helps the memory stay with us forever. "Yes, definitely, and also because jewelry, especially fine jewelry, is something that's precious, it will always be something I cherish and make sure I look after. It's also something that gains value, and even more so because it's from my mom and from her adventures."
Does it mean more to you that it's been passed down? "Definitely. And because we do travel a lot, the whole family is quite busy, it reminds me of her when I see it or when I think of it, because she lives so far away. I mean, Australia is on the other side of the world. Since we have a Thai background, we've traveled to Thailand, and I guess the one ring she bought when she was really, really young, actually, it was a piece that she fell in love with and at the time she couldn't really afford to get it, so she was young and in Thailand and said, 'That's it, I really want that ring and it's going to be my first-ever investment purchase.' And now that I have it, it reminds me of her work, how much she worked for this ring, and how much effort and energy—even though she was so young and just started working at the time—she put into this piece. I tell her she was crazy to do it, that's how much she loves this piece."
When you go on trips, do you follow in your mom's footsteps and buy jewelry wherever you go? "The older I get, the more into fine jewelry I get! I'm now a bit of a fanatic, and I do look into jewelry stores. It is sometimes a little bit hard because we're there for work and have a limited time, but I do pick up little trinkets!"
Have these pieces inspired your own swimwear designs? "I do love jewelry, and yes, my [swimwear] designs are quite clean and minimal, but there's always a little bit of detailing—a metal detail here and there to give it a little bit of a shine somewhere, definitely inspired by my mom, who loves a bit of bling here and there!"
So how do you wear them? "I alternate. It depends on the occasion or how I'm dressing because it's such an eclectic mix, they don't always work all together. Some are quite ornate, there's a big ring from India that I love that doesn't work with every outfit. I'm quite minimal as well, that's how I dress. I wear them one or two at a time. A lot of them are yellow gold so you can mix them together but I love mixing metals as well. There's a white gold and diamond piece that I sometimes mix in with the yellow gold, which I love doing. In Paris I have about six or seven rings, so it would look quite intense if I wore them all together, it would have to be my new gangster look!"
So you really go for one or two statement pieces at a time. "There's one that looks like an engagement ring, so even though I'm married, everyone thinks that I'm engaged or about to get engaged. And the big floral ring, a lot of women notice it because there are so many diamonds on it. The other ones are quite fine, they look like antiques. People always ask where they're from, and now I guess I do love the hand-me-down, I think it makes it more special that they're from my mom as well. And I'm a bit of an antique jewelry fanatic, I love the Art Deco pieces, it's something I learned from her."
When you see them, what word or feeling comes to mind? "The first word would be love, because they are from my mom and she loved them, and I cherish them."
What was the most meaningful life event that happened while you were wearing one of the rings? "I was wearing my mom's ring when I met my husband. He said, 'I have to beat that rock when I ask you to marry me.' We met in Australia, he's French and we now live in Paris. And we met at a bar that I don't even go to ever, and he was sitting right next to me."
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