Coastal Visions

BY Kathryn Drury Wagner | August 25, 2016 | Feature Features

Influenced by watery elements, Misa Hamamoto's jewelry designs would befit a fashion-forward mermaid.
ISLAND STYLE Born on Guam and raised in Honolulu, designer Misa Hamamoto works with many Pacific themes.

Artfully combining intricate designs, craftsmanship and ocean-inspired gemstones, Misa Hamamoto creates enchanting jewelry. In just eight years, she’s built a following for her line, Misa Jewelry, which includes celebrities like Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and Glee’s Lea Michele. Her designs reference nature—coral reefs, the foliage in a Hawaiian haku lei—and she uses shimmering gemstones with a sense of mystique.

“Choosing the stones is my favorite part of the job,” says Hamamoto. “I pick colors familiar to me, that look like the ocean at various times of day and different depths. I work with opals because they remind me of the sea. I love rainbow moonstones, with the streaks like the sky, and labradorite, with iridescent blues and greens.”

Hamamoto grew up in Makiki, where she took metalsmithing classes at Punahou School as a teen. She began a nonartistic journey for a while, attending the University of California, Los Angeles and toiling in the corporate world, but was drawn back to working with her hands. “Many designers use CAD, but that loses a lot of the love. I handsculpt every piece myself.”

Today she resides in L.A., making frequent trips to the islands for personal appearances where her jewelry ($300 to $700) is sold, such as at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, The St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kaua‘i and Riches Kahala in Kahala Mall on O‘ahu. The phenom has been introducing more bridal designs, including custom engagement rings and other one-of-a-kind pieces. Finally, this fall, Hamamoto unveils her holiday collection. “Look for more gemstones, more sparkle,” she says. “After all, there are a lot of holiday proposals.”


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