One can be passionate about many things. For Supphawadee “Noey” Sriboonratanachai, hers revolve around the sparkling and the shiny — high jewellery. “The sales staff (at the boutiques) are not always as experienced,” her husband Akapat “Kim” Phornprapha says, “she often knows more than them.” Having begun collecting exquisite jewellery since college, it comes as little surprise that this is where her interests lie. As the youngest daughter of Montri and Wimon Sriboonratanachai, Noey grew up surrounded by shining jewels from her family’s gemstone polishing business and cutting factory.
Today, when she isn’t busy caring for her adorable baby girl and her family, she continues to expand on her enviable collection. From her treasured jewels, to her husband and two year old daughter, she approaches all the gems in her life the same way — with passion, devotion, and love. Prestige meets the wife, mother, and all-round, astute business woman to discover the various facets of her sparkling life.
It takes some exploring to find what you love, but the journey is worth it.
Noey knew from an early age that she was drawn to jewellery and the arts. She attributes this to an upbringing packed with extracurricular activities. “I didn’t understand why I couldn’t watch cartoons, play games, go to the mall or have sleepovers like other kids,” she recalls, “I had so many classes on the weekends — singing, piano, ballet, Thai music. My mother got me to do everything you could imagine. Looking back now, I understand that she wanted me to find out what I liked, so I would know what to focus on.”
Many different kinds of music lessons later — including traditional Thai instruments like the kim, saw and ranad — and Noey knew without a doubt that she wanted to become a jewellery designer. “In the end I knew that I loved art and enjoyed it,” she reminisces on attending Ekamai International School, where her creative prowess not only won competitions, but was also recognised by her peers, who would get her to design the posters for school events. “I was lucky to have such a clear vision to realise so early I have a passion for both gemstones and art. I wanted to use this passion to create unique jewellery pieces for others.”
When you truly love something, you’ll know.
One only needs to hear Noey describe her collection of rare gems to feel her passion towards precious stones. “I could never get bored of these precious and colourful stones,” she gushes delightfully, “there are so many different types of gems — every type and colour has its own characteristics and charm.” She talks about one of her most gratifying acquisitions, which had just recently been ticked off her wish-list. “I’ve been searching for my so-called ‘soulmate’ Tiffany & Co Bird on A Rock — an iconic design by the legendary Jean Schlumberger — for a very, very long time. I knew exactly what I wanted; it had to be an emerald-cut aquamarine.” She finally found the piece at a Tiffany & Co. high jewellery event in New York last year.
While her collection contains only the finest jewellery, her decisions aren’t driven by the price tag. “For me, it wasn’t about the price… but more so about my passion for this unique stone.” She likens the feeling to a pull of fate. “Jewellery is like your soulmate. If you come across the right piece, you will instantly know that it is meant to be yours.”
Don’t be afraid of change.
With a bachelor’s from BBA Chulalongkorn University and a Master’s degree in Fashion, Design and Experience Management from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Noey managed to combine her foundation and her passions with the launch of her own jewellery brand, Phawa. Defined by a signature wiring technique she invented herself, the niche brand’s hand-crafted products have been sold at boutiques across the globe — in America, Canada, Russia, New Zealand, Jordan, Italy, Spain, France, Philippines, Malaysia and Hong Kong. While the three years she spent running it were filled with gem-studded bliss, she decided to put Phawa to a halt when she married Kim.
“Running a jewellery brand involves a lot of travelling to attend trade fairs around the world. My customers were also from different time zones from all over the globe, so I’d be sleeping at irregular hours. It’s not conductive to a family life,” she explains. While Phawa had to take a back seat, today Noey dedicates most of her time to the new love in her life — two-year-old baby girl Arpels. “When you become a mother, your interests just change completely. Now that I have a child, I don’t stay out so late anymore so I can get up early to have breakfast with her every morning.” She proudly takes on the role of devoted and doting mum, even admitting that she rarely shops for herself anymore — “I spend more on children’s clothes these days!”.
Being a mother is tough, but balance is important.
Though deeply committed to her family, Noey knows there’s a fine line between dedication and overdoing it. “You can’t just be preoccupied with raising your child and not have any social life or friends — you need to manage time well. I try to get as much done as I can during the day, so I have time for myself and others in the evenings.” Once Arpels goes to bed at 7pm, she and Kim can make dinner plans with friends for the evening. She also makes sure not to neglect her husband. ”We try to do things that make everyone happy — Kim enjoys travelling abroad and we do so together, but now we may have to think of places our daughter and parents will enjoy, too.”
Along with striking a balance and setting aside time for socialising, it’s also important to set aside time for yourself. “I realised that I need to take care of my health more so I can be strong and live long to take care of those I love. Today, I have more duties and responsibilities because I’m not just a daughter and girlfriend, but now I’m a daughter, wife and mother. I have to be strong in order to ensure everyone in the family is happy. If my family is happy, I’m happy. It’s nothing fancy, really.”
Prioritising one thing doesn’t mean giving up on the other.
Of course, her decision to focus on family doesn’t mean Noey had to forgo her other love — jewellery — completely. Today, she gleefully fills the gaping hole by shopping for them instead. Being a customer of top jewellery brands comes with a different set of perks than running your own business, from being flown around the world for exclusive launch events, to exclusive jewellery workshop visits. “When you become a customer of these high jewellery brands, it’s almost like becoming part of their family. They take really good care of you and offer extraordinary service and exquisite experiences. I’m really happy to be updated on all the trends, too.”
For Noey, the pieces have much more significance than simple face value — though they are undoubtedly dazzling. “Even if you don’t wear it, I feel that if you love it, you’ll feel happy and proud to own it. You may not get to wear it often, but it’s a joy that you feel inside, owning it. Women should have both types of jewellery — they should have classic fine jewellery for elegant daily wear. Then there’s high jewellery, which is different, as it’s more suitable for formal events. It’s just a question of finding the right occasion. High jewellery is both a passion and investment, packaged together.”
Photographer: Vatcharasith Wichyanrat
Stylist: Panchanitch Rattanawilai
Makeup Artist: Sukhon Srimarattanakul
Hair Stylist: Narongsak Yiamlaengamkool
Editorial Coordinator: Rattanachai Chaipornsantikul
Venue: The Peninsula Bangkok
Jewellery: Tiffany & Co.
Read the full interview with Noey in the latest issue of Prestige, available from all leading bookstores in Thailand.