Local Architect Uses Her Amazing Skills to Create Beautiful Jewelry

New accessory line is taking shape.


Left to right: long ladder necklace, $40, circle and triangle rings, $24 each, circle with silver quartz necklace, $36, double V necklace, $34, triangle bar necklace, $36, triple band ring, $28, greentealeavesdesign.etsy.com
Photo: David Croxford 


Tiffany Lee has built a complex life. By day, she’s an architect and project manager for award-winning, international architecture firm WATG. On weekends, Lee designs and crafts jewelry. “It’s not always easy, but time spent doing something you love always makes you happy,” she says. 


Lee knew she wanted to be an architect in the seventh grade, and her passion for the industry has grown stronger year after year. What makes her excited to go into work every day—clean lines, prominent shapes and precise solutions—is also what fuels her hobby-turned-side-business. “My jewelry line, Green Tea Leaves, represents modern minimalism; there are no frills. I find beauty in simple structures,” Lee says. “I can stare at a highway overpass for hours; it’s strong and serves its purpose.”


That architectural bent informs her jewelry-making process. “In architecture, there’s a strong relationship with the materials we use. We respect the inherent qualities in them, so I like to keep a raw, organic edge to all of my pieces.” 


The current collection features solid sterling silver rings and necklaces in the form of geometric shapes. Lee’s ability to put her creative vision to paper speeds each project along. But there’s no getting around the careful work of shaping metal. Lee meticulously cuts sterling silver wire and molds it into the desired shape. Gently hammering each piece adds organic texture and three-dimensional shape. “I take particular notice to everything at a touchable level, all of my work is hand-done and finished to look handcrafted,” she says.


Surprisingly, there are no earrings in her collection. “Because all my pieces are done one at a time by me, there’s no way to make a flawless pair,” Lee confesses. Anything less than perfect makes her nervous; there are no blurred lines in her world. Which is great, when it comes to building superstructures—and impeccable accessories. 




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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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