Olga Yatskaer is a new name in the Belgian jewelry design. Her first collection was created in 2016. She launched a company called Queensberg, to produce and promote her creations. Formerly a historian, Olga was always passionate about jewellery. She made her first design sketches already in 1990’s. Many years later, her dream to become a jeweler came true. She studied in Arts et Metiers in Brussels, and took private lessons from renowned European masters. The designer aim of Olga is to create pieces that are beautiful, original and wearable, yet affordable for most people. She crafts her pieces to fit everyday wearing and high class outfits alike.
Olga Yatskaer ("OY") interviewed on Saturday, 31 March.
OY : I studied jewelry design as well as multiple techniques such as metalworking, enameling, modeling and others at Arts et Metiers in Brussels. Subsequently, I took two more years of private lessons in high jewelry and stonesetting.In 2017 we have created a company called Queensberg. It is based in Wavre, Belgium. Queensberg takes care of promotion of my jewelry designs and production of the actual pieces. We believe there is a lot of unexplored potential for new jewelry design brands both in Benelux and at our neighbors. For production, we prefer to rely on our own resources or on proven partners, to do everything in time and ensure highest possible quality. We are building up the distribution network and looking for international partnerships.
OY : From the original background, I am a professional historian and psychologist. But since I was a little girl, I really liked drawing. I’ve been drawing at every occasion, especially new patterns, crossings and combinations of colors. One day there was a ball in my university, and I had to find some jewelry to fit the robe. It took a while but nothing was really fitting. And then I took a piece of paper and made a sketch just for fun, trying to imagine how this piece of jewelry could look like. The sketch looked quite interesting to me. Shortly after I started my attempts in the fantasy jewelry, first to create pieces that I would like myself to wear. Eventually I faced the limits of fantasy jewelry, and tried to materialize my sketches into professional jewelry pieces. It took some time to learn the necessary techniques and to get experience. I’m really thankful to my professors, my family and friends who always supported me, and everyone who helped me throughout these years.
OY : In most cases, I just get an idea and draw a sketch using a pencil and a sheet of paper. I like using pencil, because this is how I can easily translate my thoughts and emotions onto paper, and I can always erase something and change it. While every design is a fruit of imagination, you will find some of my signature elements in numerous designs – such as fine engravings, or filigree elements placed behind the gemstones.Depending on the design, I would either create the piece manually, or proceed with the 3D modeling. For a jewelry designer, technology is very useful to reflect all finest details, while ensuring that the design would be practical in production and finishing. To create complex pieces, I do like using 3D modelling. If it was not for 3D, quite a few of my ideas would likely still remain on paper - because it is either technically impossible or would take tremendous effort to create them manually with the desired precision and proportions. Renders are good to get the first idea about the look. Subsequently, through 3D printing I can make instant prototypes to ensure that all parts, sizes and details will perfectly fit, which is particularly important for jewelry.
OY : For me, the design is a song of my soul, a flight of my fantasy without any limits, the world behind the mirror. This is an opportunity to convert my dreams and inside feelings into something tangible, a self-expression. It is related to harmonious comprehension of something around me. It is one more way of communication to the people, to the outside world. It is like playing with a magic stick, when you just imagine something and then it appears out of nowhere.
OY : There are creative skills that make the designer, such as the feeling of style, a rich fantasy, a taste, and a positive mindset. The practical skills are important as well, such as understanding the client, patience, being accurate, attentive, and doing things on time.Time management is of essence to designers. However, this is something rather natural and easy for me. Thanks to my parents, from the very childhood I got used to plan my work and to set my priorities upfront. I am trying to stick to the plan in order to be on time, nevertheless I leave enough flexibility to cater for unforeseen changes.My family has been my biggest supporter. I am thankful to them for all love and patience. My family helped me believe in myself and take a chance to completely change my profession and become a jewelry designer.
OY : The most immediate plans is to complete a new collection of jewelry sets. Each set starts from a particular piece representing my existing designs, there will be more than 15 sets in total to begin with.I aim for my jewelry to reach thousands of people worldwide, and for them to enjoy my designs. This is what I have created my company Queensberg for. My dream is to create jewelry pieces that people will appreciate even in 100 years from now.
OY : Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Don’t be afraid to improve yourself and learn something new, even if it is complicated and takes time. Don’t stop and keep moving forward.
OY : Both good and great designers should have creative skills, such as the feeling of style, a rich fantasy, a taste, and a positive mindset. But great designers should have practical skills as well, such as understanding the client, patience, being accurate, attentive, doing things on time, knowing how to present the designs efficiently and how to communicate.Remember your early days and those who were at your side and help you reach the success. And one more thing: “you are there for the clients”, not “clients are there for you”.
OY : When at home, I would take a walk in the morning and get to my workshop. Have some client meetings. Relax, get inspired and create the sketches. Have a dinner with my family. But when I’m travelling, every day is quite different and not like another one.If I have created a new interesting design today, this was a great day. I motivate myself through hoping that someone will enjoy this particular design and appreciate wearing this particular piece.
OY : On a global scale, I see several trends. One is that anyone can get anything anywhere anytime and almost immediately, with emergence of mobile channels. It is now so much faster and cheaper for creative people to get their ideas spread around the globe. Therefore, more new talents can get known at faster pace than it was even in the last decade, let alone the last century. It’s a kind of YouTube’isation of design if you will. But with the multitude of talents comes the challenge of the choice. And only the very best ones will really make it to the worldwide fame…like it has always been. Another trend, especially with millennials, is the aim for designs that are practical and cool, but not necessarily expensive. This trend is particularly visible in the jewelry design.More generally, I believe the design trends follow a spiral-shaped evolution. Great designs sets the new trends, which on its turn set new designs (whether great or otherwise), and again new great designs lead to new trends.As far as my own designs are concerned, I use several styles simultaneously, because I would not like to stick to just one. I like inventing new styles, changing them and combining them. My approach to the design is to create the jewelry pieces that people could wear every day, as well as for special occasions. The inspiration for designs does not necessarily come from one or another trend, but rather by anything around me - whether it’s the nature, the weather, the people, the books, the magazines, beautiful music, a movie, or an architectural pattern… I just feel like creating something. And then I listen to my inside feelings, catch this creative wave and try not to lose it out of sight.
OY : When I’m looking at a jewelry piece made by my colleagues, I first evaluate it on my subjective feeling. That is, if I had this piece, would I like to wear it myself? And then I look at other aspects. Is it wearable at all? How original is the piece? How well are the colors, stones and other elements selected and combined together? And if this is not yet a readily made piece but still a project, I’m also looking how feasible it is to produce the piece.
OY : In my case, the first sketch would take between a few hours and a few days. The same concerns the 3D design. But I only consider the initial design as completed when the first jewelry piece has been produced. And sometimes this might take even a few weeks. Indeed, I like getting back to my earlier designs from time to time, and enhancing them or creating a collection of pieces around a particular design. As an example, some collections started with a pendant – like Eternal Union – and evolved into complete sets. Other collections could start with earrings or even a ring. And of course the customer reaction is of essence, especially as far as design success is concerned. Sometimes the clients can give you great hints on what could be improved or enhanced.
OY : I love “Eternal Union”. This piece will always remain special for me for many reasons. First, it is a simple shape, yet something that never existed before. Secondly, this is my first-ever internationally awarded design, which just created so much more visibility and recognition to my work literally overnight, thanks to “A’ Design Award”. Before designing Eternal Union, most of my models would combine metal with stones or enamel. This was one of my first attempts to create a metal-only model, as well as a model representing the optical illusion. The initial creation of this particular piece was mostly driven by fantasy and emotions. The purpose was to design a simple yet appealing and wearable jewelry piece, combining the classic and contemporary influences. The risk with a simple design is that someone else may have already created it sometime in the past. Therefore, once the shape was conceived, I made a research to make sure it does not resemble any other piece. I searched through my library of books and publications on jewelry design. I also googl'ed the images of Celtic, Greek and Etruscan pieces. So far I concluded that this design is indeed something new and unique.You may find more details about this design at the “A’ Design Award” website, there is also a separate interview dedicated to this piece.
OY : My all-time favorite designers are Georg Jensen, René Lalique and Ilias Lalaounis. I learned to appreciate the harmonic simplicity from Georg Jensen, to admire beautiful shapes from René Lalique, and to design in many different styles simultaneously from Ilias Lalaounis.
OY : I live in the center of Europe, and from my background I’m a professional historian. Europe is a unique part of the world, where thousands years of history and events have crossed together within a rather small area. It is quite surrealistic to realize that an ancient Roman road went just a few hundred meters away from my place. The Merovingians as well as the ancestors of Charlemagne are all coming from our area. For designers, Belgium is a great place to be. You will find here many different sources of inspiration and an overwhelming feeling of freedom.
OY : At this stage, my company Queensberg takes care of design, development and production. Queensberg creates jewelry pieces based on my designs and distributes them, both directly and through partners. As far as the work culture and business philosophy is concerned, I believe that a good designer should be professional in whatever he does. While having a good taste and style, he should feel the client needs and ensure the right quality. He should do things on time, the client does not have to run after the designer. Some of these principles can be applied when selecting your team members and choosing your partners.
OY : In my view, a truly sincere philanthropic contribution is the one you are not talking about. The philanthropy is about “paying forward” to the others, without necessarily expecting an immediate return.
OY : A’ Design Award was my very first award, and I felt surrealistic about this sudden overnight recognition that I could only dream of. I am really thankful to A’ Design Award and the entire team behind it, as it is a great support to promote my designs.Olga Yatskaer Profile
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