Rockville-based jewelry designer Mindy Lam has the kind of rags-to-riches story that was tailor-made for the movies. She grew up on her family’s chicken farm in Hong Kong, where her only reprieve was attending the outdoor Chinese Opera once a year. After the show, she would crawl under the stage and search for rhinestones, sequins and other shiny things that had fallen off the singers’ costumes. The annual trips sparked her love of all things sparkly and, after moving to Maryland, she started making jewelry in her spare time. Her intricate handmade pieces use the centuries-old technique of lost-wax casting to weave metals into delicate lace patterns—and are then accented with baubles like 100,000 Swarovski crystals, semiprecious stones and sculpted sterling silver. Lam’s wow-worthy creations got her noticed fast with commissions for stores like Henri Bendel in New York, and previous presidential administrations even ordered her jewels to gift to visiting foreign dignitaries.
Just as her star was on the rise, she was diagnosed with kidney failure, and it wasn’t until her 19-year-old daughter donated a kidney that Lam was able to return to making jewelry. The dedicated designer considers 2017 her return to the fashion world with the unveiling of her latest collection of necklaces, cuffs, bracelets, earrings, rings and clutches. She’s also recently launched a bridal line of hair adornments and a home decor line that includes her table runners, chargers and napkin rings. Locally, Lam will reintroduce her line to Washingtonians with a series of trunk shows at the W Hotel (Feb. 9-11). And she’ll soon unveil a specially commissioned piece for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Lam also does custom pieces, and she recently launched a partnership with The St. Regis, where she meets clients for tea at the luxury hotel to discuss her custom creations. “We really want to offer this fairy-tale jewelry life for people,” says Lam, who’s more dedicated than ever to using her fashion for philanthropy. She’s donated her pieces to the American Heart Association, St. Jude and Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. “Fashion comes and goes, but with my jewelry, I can help others, and that’s a beautiful thing.” Necklaces from $650, select pieces available at Keith Lipert Gallery, Georgetown, mindylamcouture.com
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