Yi Guo was a New York-based stylist for over a decade, until she moved back to her birthplace, Shanghai, to create a jewelry line. YI Collection was inspired by its Yi's travels to Sri Lanka and Myanmar, where she fell in love with gemstones. You can tell from her beautifully handcrafted pieces that the gems take center stage, forging a personal connection with the wearer. The perfect Valentine's Day gift, one might think?! We certainly think so.
What inspired you to start making jewelry?
My travels to the sapphire and ruby capitals of the world inspired the collection. My first chain rings were created by craftsman in Yangon, Myanmar. They calculated their labor by weighing tiny old coins on a scale. It was humbling to see tradition alive and well.
What would you say is a defining feature of your brand?
Colorful and modern.
How did your years as a stylist help you navigate the world of retail?
Retail is a completely different beast all together. I suppose all those years of honing in on an aesthetic helps with the visuals of a brand in retail.
You lived in New York for many years – what is your favorite and least favorite thing about this city?
I grew up in New York. I am in essence forever a New Yorker. New York is a gem of a city. She holds within her so many cultures, hopes and dreams. I love its energy and knowing that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It demands only the best from you and the bar is set extremely high. The flip side of that is, sometimes all I want to do is chill! Haha.
What is the main difference between NYC and Shanghai?
The diversity in cultures.
Valentine’s day is coming up! What are your top tips for V-day gifting?
We at the brand believe in women gifting themselves. The traditional gifting on Valentine’s Day from man to woman isn’t important for us. What I would say is a great gift to oneself is our double stone chain rings or a classic tennis bracelet but in black diamonds.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My auntie gave me my grandmother’s wedding ring after her passing. The ring is a reminder of her strength as a matriarch in our family.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
In college I gave my mom a silver and pearl bell necklace that I made in small metals class. I crossed off Tiffany’s on their signature box and put my name on it. She loves it still. Funny how that was a prelude to my current career.
What’s next for Yi Collection?
It’s always about pushing the craft and ourselves. We’ve started our next collection and can’t wait for you to see.
What are three things that bring joy to your life?
Gems, gardening and travel.
What does 10 Corso Como mean to you?