Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Atelier Shinji is a shop in Ginza, Tokyo, run primarily by the Naoi family, which produces exquisite handcrafted jewelry to the specifications of individual customers.
Atelier Shinji prides itself on its handcrafted jewelry, each piece of which is designed, crafted, and finished in the store. It has a large glass display unit in which the customers are able to watch the process of crafting the pieces.
The business was started in 1972 by Shinji Naoi and is now run by his son and the son’s wife. The founder still creates pieces which are heavily inspired by Art Nouveau. Most of his pieces are made of high-purity metals such as Britannia silver 958, 23K Vermeil, and 18K yellow gold and platinum.
According to Janine Naoi, one of the artists and the daughter-in-law of Shinji Naoi, these are the metals selected for use as they are “relatively affordable material to realize a playful design, whilst maintaining high quality.”
She adds that they work with other materials depending on custom orders.
The pieces are all made through the “lost wax” method, which Janine explains is the process of physically designing the articles in a wax as the first step. The designs are then placed into a plaster cylinder which then solidifies around the wax. The plaster cylinder is then baked in an oven, where the wax melts, leaving a perfect mold for the metal to be poured into. This is how all the jewelry is made at Atelier Shinji.
Aside from custom orders, the store also creates pieces heavily inspired by food, fruit, vegetables, nature motifs, and Japanese traditional motifs. Some of its series inspired by nature include the gingko leaf series. This series is modeled after one of the oldest living trees, dating back more than two hundred million years. The gingko leaf symbolizes longevity, profound endurance, and the unity of opposites.
This store, just like every other business, has faced setbacks since the onset of the Covid pandemic, especially due to Tokyo going in and out of emergency periods, as well as the lack of international tourists. However, Atelier Shinji Ginza had an online presence even before the pandemic and has therefore been able to sell and promote its work.
On the website, customers are able to browse the pieces, and can also send in custom orders through an online process.