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French-born Japanese artisan makes jewelry in Wilton

By Stephanie Kim

Published 12:00 am, Thursday, January 25, 2018

WILTON — Takako Saiin can still remember what her childhood bedroom curtain looks like — the mustard-yellow-and-green one that hung in her room when she was growing up in Tokyo. Every night before going to bed, she would marvel at its unique color combination and intricate patterns of flowers, houses and other designs.

She said this fascination stemmed from living in two countries that had contrasting styles. Born in France and raised in Tokyo, Saiin was quick to notice how Japan favored calm colors while France seemed to gravitate toward more vibrant hues, like the shade of her mom’s red Parisian pants she so vividly remembers.

“I was always fascinated by that difference,” Saiin said. “In my home, I had something that was a little bit different from what I usually see in Japan. So I think that kind of helped me develop, how to say, a sense of art.”

That sense of art has followed Saiin to this day, although she didn’t get a master’s of arts like she wanted to. A former pricing and database analyst, Saiin now makes jewelry in her Wilton home, where she’s lived with her husband and two children for eight years.

She started selling jewelry in 2012, after her niece taught her how to finger-knit. Saiin noticed how her niece wore one of her yarn scarves like a necklace, giving her the idea to make her first product: a yarn scarf necklace with accent jewels.

Seeing that her niece liked it so much, Saiin wondered if others would too.

“I posted one item and it sold, and that just made me very excited,” Saiin said. “And I kept going since then.”

Saiin’s jewelry line, Esha New York, is now loved by hundreds of customers who frequent her Etsy shop and Japanese online store. Her jewelry is also sold at Ally Bally Bee, a New Canaan co-op that features local artisans.

Over the years, her textile necklaces, gemstone jewelry and new faux fur bracelets have garnered praises for their “exquisite,” “elegant,” and “unique” look — inspired by trips to art museums with her husband or by ideas she thought of before falling asleep.

Saiin appreciates such praise, since every item is a one of a kind. This way, her jewelry truly lives up to its name: “Esha” in Sanskrit means “one.”

“I wish people comment, ‘You’re wearing such a unique jewelry,’” Saiin said. “I love it when someone calls it unique.”

While Saiin has found success in her business so far, she views it more as a hobby that pays for itself. She admits she would probably sell more if she mass-produced her jewelry, or if she expanded her operations to retail stores like her friends and customers have suggested. But as a self-taught jewelry maker, and a lover of arts, maintaining originality is of utmost importance to Saiin.

Every piece from her 14-karat gold fine jewelry and wire-wrapped artisan collection of her own idea and craft, as she didn’t receive any formal education or take any lessons.

“That’s the biggest, fun part for making jewelry,” Saiin said, “I always want something different.”

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