10 YEARS of Gems
Nathalie Owen chats to the designer and founder of successful New Zealand jewellery brand Kagi.
You can barely enter a jewellery store today without falling in love with one of Kagi’s beautiful gems. The brand, now in its 10th year, was founded by Kat Gee in 2006. The Christchurch-born entrepreneur studied design at Massey University, graduating with honours, before discovering her passion for jewellery design. “I remember sitting on the jetty at our bach in the Marlborough Sounds thinking, ‘If I could do anything, be anything, what would it be?’ It dawned on me that I wanted to be a jewellery designer.”
Gee enrolled in night classes at Peter Minturn Goldsmith School in Auckland and set about creating her own brand. “I began Kagi in my flat when I was just 24 years old,” she says. That brand has now produced over 800 designs and is stocked in more than 300 stores throughout Australasia. “To reach the milestone of 10 years in business, especially in the incredibly difficult fashion industry, is no mean feat,” she says.
To acknowledge this milestone, Kagi has released a special collection entitled Champagne Bubbles, featuring a range of pieces that have sparkling zirconias set in 18ct rose gold plating. The brand is also paying tribute to the women who have supported it over the years, asking them to model its next collection. “Real Kiwi women have helped Kagi get to where it is today and I wanted to celebrate this,” Gee says.
One woman who has had a profound impact on the designer is her grandmother. “I grew up inspired by the bravery of my grandma, who hid a strand of pearls for three years during World War II, while being held as a prisoner of war. These pearls are still in my family today.”
It comes as no surprise that pearls are now one of the foundations of Gee’s brand. “In the beginning, my collections involved a lot of experimentation. I trialled a number of different styles before finding my signature look,” the mother of one explains. “But what has always been constant is the commitment to using real pearls and gems hand-sourced from around the world.” As for the next 10 years, Gee wants to continue to expand the brand throughout Australia, and keep designing innovative, versatile pieces that women will love.
Necklace, $239, and pendant, $129, by Kagi. Earrings, $89, by Kagi. Necklace, $229, by Kagi.