We met Song Jin Hee a few weeks ago, a self-taught jewelry designer and owner of luxury Chungdam shop KOHINOOR, which carries her own intricately created products, as well as exhibits the work of other artists.

Kohinoor‘ is the name of a 108 carat diamond; the main feature of the crown jewels belonging to the Queen of England. The legend goes that whoever captures this exquisite, powerfully bright diamond will rule the world.

This choice of name is clearly significant and defines the ethic of what makes Jin Hee so inspirational – it’s as if she truly wants to capture the world. She explains to us about her 2020 Project: 2020 being the year she hopes to achieve her mission of gaining global recognition for herself and other Korean artists. She described how she wanted to create a ‘hub’ in her shop for Korean artists, “I wanted to create a multiple culture area not only introducing products but something of value – high luxury or alternative, creative and unique artwork.” By the aforementioned date she hopes to have achieved this internationally by showing curated artwork online.

Bracelet by Panache

KOHINOOR is already somewhat a hub with its small exhibition space in a side room, away from the plush shop with its jewel cases full of upmarket items for sale. Currently the area hosts products from Teal Table and Panache, as well as others, along with the incredibly sweet results from a children’s design contest in which Jin Hee created wearable items out of designs conjured up by kids.  She is always stimulated by the unexpected, stating: “I’m inspired by my surroundings – nature, cars, even sand – but I never look at the work of other jewelers.” Jin Hee is also inspired by thoughts and meaning, citing a product she calls her ‘dream ring’ as an example of this. She wears this ring herself as she believes it connects with her philosophy for the future and will give her motivation to achieve their dreams.

Jin Hee has always been forward-thinking and driven. She initially set up her business after studying asset valuation at college. After this she worked for a jewelry company, putting money away until she could afford to open a small shop at the young age of 24. This store was opened in Jongno’s jewelry district, which wasn’t seen as an area for luxury trinkets at the time. Song Jin Hee made it work, though, distinguishing herself and her enterprise from the other ‘flea market-style’ businesses by marketing as a luxury seller and targeting youthful clients with her modern product choices.


Due to Jin Hee’s innovative mind, KOHINOOR is defined by its alternative edge, quality and craftsmanship: Jin Hee has spent up to 9 months perfecting minor details of the jewelry making process. Her painstaking work is why she sees her products as unique, and her love for her customers, who are very loyal, is what drives her to create pieces with heritage that she hopes will become heirlooms to pass down to younger generations. She refuses to design fad jewelry, preferring to make pieces that are substantial and long lasting. She takes her work as seriously as she takes her newfound 2020 project, planning to combine her work ethic when designing with promoting her fellow artist friends. With Jin Hee’s determination it seems that 2020 will likely come sooner than she thinks.

Song Jin Hee is holding a 12.12.12 flea market today at Sunday to Monday, the cafe below the KOHINOOR Chungdam shop from 12pm – 12am. There will be kimchi pizza and Christmas bargains for sale. Here’s the location

Cover image and ring courtesy of KOHINOOR. 

Other images by Emily Ann Hodges

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