Interview with Bernard Jongstra from Gem Kingdom

From 28 March until 25 June 2017 the exclusive brand Gem Kingdom is exhibiting a unique collection of jewellery at The Museum of Bags and Purses.


Profile Bernard & JohannaGem Kingdom’s founders, Bernard Jongstra and Johanna Titselaar, have been designing remarkable jewellery and accessories in their studio on Amsterdam since 1990. Their collections are known for their unique signature style combined with unusual materials. Contrast is a key theme running through the designs: ethnic versus ultra-modern, the past versus the future.

We met Bernard at the exhibition to learn more about the brand and he told us many interesting things about it:

“Of course our company is a business but we are making our jewellery as art objects. Our design is influenced by Dadaism: we play with funny things but it has a relation to history and art.

Little Sid

Gem Kingdom jewellery is hand-made with the most delicate care using high-quality materials. The stones, engraved silver items and all other parts are exclusive Gem Kingdom designs. Cameos are designed by Gem Kingdom and carefully made by the best cameo carvers in Italy. All parts of the jewellery are exclusively made for Gem Kingdom and made by the team of professional silver and goldsmiths at the workshop in Amsterdam.

R 16f10 camee van been

Interesting how the ideas of some of our creations come to life. Once we wanted to make jewellery with porcelain and found a man who made porcelain dolls and as parts of dolls he was making porcelain eyes. We liked them very much and started to produce jewellery with porcelain eyes.  Half of people who see it is  scared and the other half is really attracted to it. Now the demand for pieces with eyes is very high.

Funny thing that we found at this porcelain men’s place a little Kewpie, a baby doll, and we thought – it’s nice to dress them up to make little characters.


First we made five different ones, and it came out very strong. Now we are making few new ones every year and customers are always asking for new. They are now becoming collectables. Sometime we are making just one custom-made character. They are very popular especially in Asia.

Tooth Fairy

There was an exhibition in Japan with big Kewpie dolls and there was a very nice article about it. But we didn’t understand why they write “It was nice to see mayonnaise Kewpie dolls”. We googled it and found that it’s a very popular mayonnaise brand in Asia with Kewpie on logo. And original Kewpie appeared as comic characters designed by cartoonist Rose O’Neill. The illustrated cartoons, appearing as baby cupid characters, began to gain popularity after the publication of O’Neill’s comic strips in 1909. So that’s why this baby iconic in many places around the world.

Our latest collection is victorian jungle – combination of victorian and ethnic style jewellery.   This unusual combination brings in a whole new meaning and felling. We like mixing things together and at the end our customers got their own definition of our pieces. They brings their own personal background and emotion to it.

victorian Jungle

uitnodiging 2

We are selling our jewellery in the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan, China. We have a show room in The Hague because it’s very important to try our things on – how you feel the piece on yourself.

Gem Kingdom designed jewellery collections for DIESEL in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and has collaborated on jewellery collections and accessories for the French fashion couture house CELINE in 2005 and 2006.

Gem Kingdom exhibition coincides with the new exhibition “It’s a Men’s World” at The Museum of Bags and Purses, which also includes various pieces made by Gem Kingdom.


The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam is the largest of its kind in the world. The Museum’s collection includes over 5 000 bags from historical pieces from the 15th century to timeless classics of modern design from famous fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.

The museum is situated in a lovely canal house in the centre of Amsterdam, part of the UNESCO World heritage Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam.

Photos are kindly provided by Gem Kingdom.


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