Can a conversation change the course of a life?
That’s what happened when Mr. Chun-Yuan Tan and Ms. Yi-Hsuan Lee met on the first day of the Graduate Gemologist diploma program at GIA’s campus in Taiwan.
Mr. Tan had asked the student sitting next to him, Ms. Lee, a question, and from that moment on, the two helped each other throughout the program. Little did they know that this encounter would lead them to start their own jewelry brand.
Mr. Tan’s interest in jewelry came from the excitement and expectation he would see on the faces of those who shopped at his mother’s jewelry store. This joyful environment sparked something in Tan, and led him to found a jewelry website. Then he went on to have a successful career in sales at a financial firm. But Tan knew he needed a better understanding of gemology if he was going to achieve his professional goals. So he sought out an education at GIA and was awarded a GIA scholarship to help with his studies.
Ms. Lee’s path to GIA was just as unique. Her father was an architect, and she was mesmerized by his precise drawings since he never used a computer. Watching her father transform an idea into a blueprint impressed Lee, giving her an appreciation of spatial relationship and the beauty of forms – something that would later inform her design sensibilities. She also spent a decade honing her painting, calligraphy, and 3-D art skills. Jewelry, Lee realized, was a perfect medium for bringing together her diverse talents and interests.
Tan and Lee enjoyed a healthy competition while studying at GIA – Lee passed her 20-stone test on the first try, Tan on the second. As graduation approached, the two plotted and planned: They would found Lumin Garden, a high-end jewelry house.
“My designs are a combination of traditional Chinese painting and gemological knowledge. GIA helped me express my artisticvision, allowing me to pour my soul into creating colorful gemstone gardens,” said Lee about her work for Lumin Garden.
As Ms. Lee gives free rein to her imagination, Mr. Tan is responsible for finances and promoting the brand. It’s an ideal task for Tan, who brings his financial background and gemological knowledge to business operations. A well-suited pair, indeed.
“Since we are Graduate Gemologists, we have a common language – there are no misunderstandings in our discussions. We also act as sounding boards for each other when we buy and sell gems,” observed Tan.
The first casual exchange between Mr. Tan and Ms. Lee is now serious business about building a successful jewelry brand.