Meet Master Craftswoman: Jewelry Maker Ariel Tian

When a cherry tree is blooming you may not yet be able to touch the fruit, but with some imagination you can already smell the fragrance. And awaiting the fruit, the sight of the blossoming flowers already touches the passersby. This analogy may well fit Ariel and her jewelry work. And even though as an artist and person she has bigger dreams and plans to evolve, what she produces right now is beautiful and inspiring. As her clientele grows larger, with celebrities embracing her work too, one has to understand that all her pieces are connected to her and her way of life. There is something touching and unique about her pieces. Wearing Ariel’s jewelry is like having a part of her freshness, vitality, and positive attitude accompanying you, like carrying a little smile encouraging you no matter where you are and what you do.

Watch Ariel handcrafting her jewelry

If you have the pleasure to meet Ariel, I can assure you, it will be a very pleasant experience. It is not just about the genuine smile that emanates from within and illuminates her face, but her eyes are like two small continuous sparks that impersonate her character, shining brightly as an open window to her inner life. A youthful and positive energy emanates from her and it is contagious. She combines the candor and curiosity of a child with the practical knowledge and experiences gathered throughout her life, living between different cultures and worlds. The charm of this mix is telling: this is a woman that has found a true balance in life and feels at peace. This is true, both in terms of her craft and her personal life. As much as Ariel is on an endless quest for herself and her jewelry, there is this sentiment that she has settled down and found her path on which to walk. Her sail is hosted and even though turbulence won’t be avoided, the ship is set in a steady direction. This is remarkable, as just a few years back this was far from being the case.

Born in China, Ariel found herself unable to follow her heart professionally or personally. She simply followed the expected footsteps, accepting that as what was handed to her.

Although working on artistic creations was deeply fulfilling for her, because in China the arts were not considered decent work compared to working in the government or in business, she did not dig into it deeper. Her dream and passion was replaced with the wish to study in a prestigious university.

Though from the age of 16 she learned and practiced the meditation Falun Dafa, based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, and was deeply connected to those principles, when the Communist Party suddenly started to persecute practitioners for no apparent reason, after having approved the practice and even having promoted it for years, out of fear of persecution Ariel buried the practice deep inside herself and stopped doing it.

At that time she was a completely different person. Little did she know that fate has its own way sometimes. Indeed, one twist of fate would change everything. In 2010, she moved to New York to study as part of an exchange program for a business MBA. She expected to remain an outsider and move back to China after she completed the exchange. But everything changed when she reconnected with the Falun Dafa meditation practice. As anywhere outside of China it is practiced freely and openly, including in parks in New York; when Ariel saw practitioners doing the exercises, it unlocked what she had buried.

Reconnecting with this practice would have unexpected consequences for her. Now that she had started practicing again, she could not go back to China because she could become a target of the persecution. Secondly, through the practice she met her husband. And lastly, she now wanted to help denounce the persecution and tell her Chinese friends and relatives that the persecution is based on lies and hate. This unexpected part is maybe where fate played its game again.

In Chinese traditions, there is a saying and belief: when you do good deeds you receive good rewards, when you do bad deeds you receive retribution, which is called karmic retribution. Was it because she decided to put her heart into a honorable cause? Or was it something else? It likely does not matter now.

When Ariel started to tell her friends that the persecution of Falun Gong was based on nothing but the jealousy of the former leader Jiang, and that Falun Gong was freely practiced and recognized for its benefits outside of China, her friends and relatives would not believe her. Too deeply influenced by the propaganda they one after another turned a deaf ear. Running out of words to counter this, she decided to express herself through art, with the idea that when people see something beautiful they will connect to it and be open to have an exchange or become curious about its origin. And in order to do that Ariel turned her attention to jewelry. She liked the noble material used to craft the pieces and how beautiful they could be. These simple thoughts would be a turning point in her life.

Though fate can help you, nothing is just handed over freely. How to create something beautiful? This question brought Ariel one step further: Chinese traditional culture. She did not know much about the traditions and craftsmanship, as the Cultural Revolution destroyed much of it. Before that period, spiritual beliefs and morals were the foundation on which traditions were established, and those foundations had enabled the Chinese civilization to emerge as a wonder of the world. As Falun Dafa has profound connections with Chinese traditional culture, she felt able to understand this culture more broadly. But this understanding had to go further, and so she started to dig deeply, through self study and becoming impregnated with the culture, reading books, studying paintings, and other traditional works of art, etc… She also started to look more closely at other grand cultures and how their art was developed. This is a process she still applies now, and she uses this endless source of inspiration for her jewelry work.

In this way, Ariel not only started developing her own personal jewelry style, but also continuously reconnected with her roots and her childhood dream. Her artistic creations, her work and designs, are a reflection of thousands of years of culture and knowledge. They look elegant and inspiring.

For me looking at her craftsmanship, each piece seems to carry a piece of her within it. She was telling me how it was important for her when she was producing jewelry or researching a new design to have a calm heart and peaceful mind, thinking about how to bring out something that would benefit other people. Her state of mind when doing something has an impact on the object too. Because of this people like her work.

What is even more interesting is that her jewelry intrigues anybody. It is not only Chinese people that are attracted to it; far from it. It is as if there is a universal value that comes out through her approach. And particularly for New Yorkers, Ariel believes that, in such a busy and erratic city, anything that allows you connect you with something calm and pure is necessary for everyone.

Besides producing jewelry, Ariel has been selected by Keenobby, a foundation, to teach the art of jewelry craftsmanship. Other institutions have also expressed their interest. This way she can share her approach and what she learned through her process.

Of course nothing comes easily and hard work and sweat are the foundation of any start up. There are ups and downs, but not enough to take her away from what she has found again. Far from enough to cut her enthusiasm down or take down her smile. She is on a path and will walk it. And so through the ups and downs, she has settled on this journey.

Ariel has further surprises to bring to us. Work on exclusive high end bespoke designs. But,… wait,… we too need to learn to be patient for the right time. Meanwhile we can enjoy her creations that evolve throughout the year. Having a vision and big dreams, Ariel knows she has to do this one step at the time and put her heart into it, to create her art. I am sure that she has the potential to go far and that we will soon hear more from her.

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