Inspired by ’90s hip-hop, J.Lo and Justin Bieber, Melinda Zeman might not seem like your traditional fine jewellery designer, but that’s because she isn’t. The mother of four and wife of Jonathan Zeman (CEO of Lan Kwai Fong Group and son of Allan Zeman) is shaking things up with her own brand, Bouchier – a playful, fun and refreshing take on the world of fine jewellery.
Zeman founded Bouchier in 2019 after struggling to find a contemporary fine jewellery brand that spoke to her. “I’m a really colourful person and I felt like a lot of things that I saw were very, very classic,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with classic but at that point in my life, I was just looking for something that was more joyful and everyday.”
Without any formal training in jewellery design, Zeman began making her own pieces “just for fun” and when friends began to take notice, she started designing jewellery for them as well. One thing led to another and a few trunk shows later, she decided to turn her passion for fine jewellery into a full-time business.
“I’m very much an East-meets-West kind of person,” says Zeman, who is half-Chinese, half-Ghanaian, born in the United Kingdom and educated in the United States. Her multicultural background is reflected in all aspects of her jewellery brand and was especially important when it came to choosing a name.
“I think our relationship with the concept of luxury has changed. Life should be enjoyed and not taken too seriously, and I think that philosophy should be applied and extended to all the finer things in life as well.”
“I was researching different people in history in jewellery who had East-meets-West elements to them and through sheer luck, I stumbled upon this man called Guillaume Bouchier who used to travel between Paris and China in the 1800s,” she said. Impressed by Bouchier’s passion for “bringing European craftsmanship and jewellery to women in China” and realising that not many had heard of him, the name stuck and the rest, as they say, is history.
Bouchier as a brand is youthful, fun and colourful, with distinctly edgier fine jewellery pieces such as rainbow-coloured ear cuffs, chunky chain necklaces and diamond-encrusted signet rings. One of its best-selling collections is the Fruit Hoops series, which features a simple knot design in a mix of neon enamel, gold and diamonds that are simple, stackable and perfect for day-to-night wear.
“With everything happening in the world right now, I wanted something colourful and joyful that I could wear on my hand to look at and think, ‘That just makes me really happy right now,’” Zeman says of its design. “The knot itself can represent so many different relationships in your life. It can represent the love between husband and wife, mother and child and even between friends.”
Something else that’s proven popular among Bouchier fans is the pinky ring. “We didn’t used to have the Fruit Hoops pinky rings but we started making them because people just love them,” Zeman says. “I personally love pinky rings because there’s no other piece of jewellery that makes quite the statement – unless it’s like a massive high jewellery piece. For everyday wear, this makes so much more of a statement.”
Chains are also another hot item for Bouchier, which are inspired by ’90s hip-hop culture. “They remind me not only of rappers but also of pop stars like J.Lo and Beyoncé,” says Zeman, who is now working on a collection of longer chains with medallions as a nod to ’90s nostalgia.
Besides the Fruit Hoops series, Bouchier’s other tongue-in-cheek collections include the Prom Queen series (“they remind me of what a ’90s prom queen would wear”), Granny series (“retro-inspired jewellery that looks like something you’d be able to find in your granny’s jewellery box”) and the new LED range (“a pop of metallic fluorescence on your hands”).
Proving that fine jewellery can be playful yet elegant and luxurious, Zeman says, “I think our relationship with the concept of luxury has changed. Life should be enjoyed and not taken too seriously, and I think that philosophy should be applied and extended to all the finer things in life as well.”
“In the past, luxury was very much something you’d save for a special occasion, that may or may not ever come. My mom has sets of dishes she has never used for that very reason! After the events over the past few years especially, it’s more important than ever to live in the moment and embrace the here and now.”
So who exactly is the Bouchier woman? “She is fashion-forward, an individual thinker, likes to mix and match, and is not just open to trying new things but always looking for new things to try,” says Zeman, whose ultimate goal is to make jewellery that helps women embrace their individuality.
And judging by the brand’s Instagram feed of neon colours, petal piercings and jiggly jelly moulds, it’s clear that Bouchier caters to a different kind of jewellery lover – one who isn’t bound by tradition or rules, and who isn’t afraid to stand out – not unlike Zeman herself.