Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Discover the inspiration and story behind the JBeauti brand from the words of the founder, Jian Li.
Jian, at her home outside of Seattle wearing the Golden Age White Jade Earrings and the Golden Age Necklace.
Who are you? Where are you from? What is your background? What are your passions?
My name is Jian Li and I am originally from Yunnan Province, China. I come from a traditional Chinese family and grew up with four generations under the same roof. Influenced by my family, Asian traditional art and handicrafts became my passions. As a result of those passions, I became a private collector of Chinese antique porcelain and jewelry. My first interaction with western culture was completing my Bachelor’s degree in English literature. This experience opened my eyes to western world and allowed me to experience cultural diversity at young age.
What inspired you to create this brand?
Since 2010, I spent time studying and traveling through Europe. I was fascinated by European art and was shocked by the mutual influence and integration of eastern and western art and culture. From German Meissen porcelain to Japonaiserie by Van Gogh, you can easily find the Asian cultural influence on European art and lifestyle. While in Europe, I was surprised that many antique markets sold lots of Chinese antique jewelry and handicrafts which I had rarely found in China due to the negligence of their preservation in the modern day.
In 2015, I moved to United States and later founded JBeauti to share my passions and build a bridge across eastern and western cultures. I believe there is no boundary or barrier for beauty and elegance. The vision of JBeauti is to bring women the perfect balance of modern western lifestyle with traditional eastern elegance.
What is the history of Asian jewelry and how has it influenced other cultures?
Since 2500 BC, the ancient Chinese started creating jewelry and it came to hold a significant role in early Chinese culture. As time passed, Chinese jewelry designs rose in popularity to the extent that they greatly influenced the jewelry tastes of European countries. Europeans began preferring silver over gold, and jade over other precious gemstones, much like the jewelry trends of the time in China.
The hierarchical structure of historical societies in Asian countries is also a key cultural feature which has been symbolized into jewelry over time. Many gemstones such as jade, pearl and tourmaline have been used to represent the wearers’ social status and their wear has been strictly limited to certain people in the past. Some jewelry was not only meant for decoration, but also to symbolize and communicate dignity and nobility.
What do you see as the significance of jewelry for yourself? How do you like to style and wear your own jewelry?
I believe unique design and intricate details make jewelry beautiful. More importantly, jewelry which has a special meaning radiates unique personal qualities and expresses feelings. This type of jewelry not only makes you look good, but also makes you different. My daily style in jewelry has changed gradually from elaborate and formal to more natural and casual style jewelry. I have always been drawn to jewelry with meaningful designs and exquisite details; however, I prefer the jewelry to be comfortable and easy to wear.
Many JBeauti pieces feature different flowers, stones and other natural elements. What is their significance to the JBeauti brand?
At JBeauti, we express our brand image through natural elements. Many of the flowers featured in JBeauti jewelry can be found blooming in different seasons throughout the year. Wisteria and magnolia bloom in the spring, peony in the summer, chrysanthemum and osmanthus in the fall. Birds and gardens are also present in the jewelry and both are popular natural symbols in Asian cultures. Chinese jewelry designs focus on the use of jade, which is viewed as symbol of grace, dignity and morality. As a popular Asian proverb says: Gold is valuable and jade is priceless.
How do you hope that people who wear JBeauti jewelry will feel?
In Asian culture, the analogy between woman and water is commonly quoted. Like the words form Laozi, the founder of philosophical Taoism, “The highest excellence is like that of water.” Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet it is such a strong force in the world. If there is a magic power on this planet, it is within water. I hope that JBeauti jewelry makes you feel elegant but powerful, much like water.
Interview conducted by Laura Suomalainen