By Aisha Hassan on July 24, 2023
The first time I beheld WASIS pieces in person, I immediately snapped photos to send to my co-founders, Alia and Kylie. Each ring was so unusual yet intentionally shaped, every earring felt modern while bearing the mark of age-old craftsmanship. These tiny sculptures were crafted by WASIS Founder and Jewelry Artist, Kina Hassan, and today, Kina’s “Fine Line Collection” launches exclusively on Dia Guild.
Born and raised in Kuala Terengganu, a Malaysian coastal town, Kina was carving river stones and creating jewelry out of seashells and flowers at only five years old. Yet it wasn’t until much later and as an adult marketing professional that she took a jewelry workshop as a birthday gift to herself. The experience was transformative. Fast forward through working in Bangkok and Istanbul, the death of a parent and an uncertain return home — in 2019, WASIS, Kina’s brave leap into entrepreneurship and pursuing her passion, a jewelry brand acknowledging how “what was” creates “what is,” was born.
WASIS’s first exclusive capsule for Dia, The Fine Line Collection, explores ideas of illusions and balance. Each one-of-a-kind piece is fully handmade in Sterling Silver but the material has been manipulated to create depth, textures, and a matte finish. Whether inspired by music or Matisse, every piece was intentionally crafted. Here is more about Kina, in her own words.
Why is the art of handmade jewelry important?
I think it’s important because it gives voice to the makers and allows them to tell their story, send out a message, and make a statement through their pieces. Each piece is different, reminding us that everyone is unique and special in their own way. By wearing handmade jewelry, you’re carrying your own interpretation of the work and adding your own story to it.
Tell us about the experience of learning to make jewelry by hand.
I’m informally trained by jewelry artists in Bangkok and Istanbul where I used to live for a few years, and I realized from my very first lesson that this is my calling because I was so immersed in the whole making process that I forgot everything else at that moment. It taught me that your heart and your body knows what’s right for you, so try to listen more closely to your intuition and find the courage to take that first step.
What does it feel like when you are handcrafting a piece?
It feels like meditation. I’m a very tactile person and when I’m handcrafting it feels like a mindful practice with a breathing exercise, but instead of listening and paying attention to my breathing, I pay attention to how the material feels in my hands and to the sounds of sawing and hammering. That’s why I cannot rush my process and must take a break when I’m not in the right flow because everything is intentional.
How do you find inspiration, and what are some things that have been inspiring you lately?
I usually find inspiration through lived experience, conversation, and reading. Lately, I’m inspired by the ideas of duality, material manipulations, finding balance, and reading between the lines.
If you could describe WASIS in three words, what would they be?
Expressive, unconventional, intentional.
The Fine Line Series was exclusively made for Dia. Tell us about one or two of the pieces in the collection and what’s special about them.
With the Fine Line Series I’m exploring the ideas of illusions and balance. For example, the Ball Drop earrings were created fully in silver but the balls were made to appear like pearls. I’m playing with balance for The Rising Tide earrings to create an illusion of depth yet still maintaining wearability.
Editor’s Note: Explore the full collection here.
What advice do you have for those looking to follow their passion and start their own brand?
Never stop dreaming and keep at it. You must also be willing to put in the extra hours and be prepared to struggle mentally, emotionally and financially when you’re starting out. It may sound glamorous to start your own brand but the reality is there’s a lot of work to be done behind the scenes. So make sure you have a strong support system because you’re going to need them to catch you when you’re slipping and cheer you on to keep going. Also, don’t compare your journey to success with others’ because everyone’s paths and struggles to get to where they want to be are different.
What are your hopes for WASIS going forward?
I hope working with Dia will allow an exchange of ideas and create opportunities for collaborations with other artisans in Southeast Asia. One of my dreams is to collaborate with the traditional brass makers in my hometown in Terengganu and I really hope to make it happen next year because it’s a dying industry and there’s only very few ageing artisans left.
I also have this dream of participating and exhibiting at contemporary jewelry weeks, especially at Munich Jewellery Week, NYC Jewelry Week and Radiant Pavilion in Melbourne. Ultimately, the dream is to have WASIS’s own studio/showroom/workshop with an in-house team of studio jewellers.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.