Jewellery designer Annoushka Ducas
Fine jewellery designer Annoushka Ducas, who co-founded Links of London before setting up her own brand, Annoushka, eight years ago, has opened her first boutique at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Here, she tells us about her travels, the inspiration behind her designs, from the rebellious to the classic, and mentoring young talent.
When did you first decide you wanted to design fine jewellery? Over 25 years ago, when I was living in Hong Kong. My engagement ring was one of my first designs. I couldn't find anything I liked, so I designed my own. The jeweller who made up the design for me is still based around the corner from my new boutique at the elegant Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. It makes me feel as if I have really come full circle. The ring is quite Art Deco in style, and many of my collections today are heavily influenced by this period.
Gold and diamond Crown stacking rings
What else inspires your jewellery designs? I am influenced by so many things, from my Russian heritage to my extensive travels, which have taken me all over the world. I love discovering the different ways in which people from other cultures wear their jewellery – it never fails to surprise and delight me. My daughters make sure I always have my finger on the pulse. Equally, the young talent in London is incredibly exciting – I mentor young jewellery designers at Central Saint Martins, and I am also a member of the British Fashion Council.
Antique shops on Cat Street
My most recent launch is the Crown collection of 18 carat gold and diamond stacking rings. I am constantly adapting the way I wear my own jewellery, and I wanted to create a collection that allows me the freedom to alter my ring stack depending on my mood. Jewellery should be playful, surprising and fun, and Crown really speaks to this spirit of irreverence. The versatility of the design makes it so appealing: it can be as rebellious or as classic as you want.
Which pieces did you design specially for your new boutique at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong? To celebrate the opening I have designed a pair of jade and diamond Flamenco earrings, which are available exclusively at the boutique. The fan shape of the earrings echoes the hotel's iconic logo and was inspired by the movement of the flamenco dance.
What makes Hong Kong such a special city in your eyes? It has such an extraordinary energy – a sense that anything is possible. There is always something exciting and unexpected behind every door.
Thai restaurant Samsen
How often do you visit and what do you like to do? I come to Hong Kong as often as I can; I still have lots of friends here. I always visit Stanley Market for the amazing linen sheets and tablecloths. I love exploring the small shops either side of the Central-Mid-Levels escalator; there are masses of fun, semi-open-air bars and restaurants up there, too. Cat Street is a great place for Chinese antiques, and PMQ – the former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road and Aberdeen Street – has been turned into a not-for-profit design collective, supporting local brands and artists. It's home to lots of wonderful, and often wacky, creations.
Hong Kong is also a foodie paradise: on my most recent visit I discovered Samsen, a Thai restaurant in Wan Chai, which looks very unassuming but serves the most delicious food (I highly recommend the noodles with wagyu beef). One of my favourite bars is Foxglove, a speakeasy in Central, which is hidden behind an umbrella shop and plays live jazz. Finally, no visit to the city is complete without a trip to Ping Pong Gintonería, an old ping-pong-club-turned-gin-bar.
View from the Peak Tower
What would you recommend for first-time visitors? I love taking visitors to Lugard Road, that goes round from the Peak Tower. It's a short walk, and on the second bend you have the most spectacular view of the city below. It always takes my breath away. A trip on the Star Ferry is another must: what better way to admire the harbour in its full glory?
Which other countries have you visited recently? I love travelling and have experienced some amazing places around the world. My most recent adventure was in the north of Finland, where I went mushing with my husband John and four children. As a family, we are passionate about skiing and always return to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in the French Alps.
A harbour tour on the Star Ferry
Many of my collections were inspired by my travels and the stones that I have discovered along the way. I have spent a lot of time in Ethiopia over the past few years, thanks to my involvement in Give a Future, an economic development programme for women in the capital Addis Ababa. While I was there, I fell in love with the translucency and fire of the Ethiopian opal, and I decided to launch a collection incorporating these breathtaking stones to help support this charity.