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My friend Belle is one of the most fashionable, colorful people I know, so when it came time to seek out the right birthday gift for her, I knew it needed to be good. Something playful and fun, but also on-trend and recognizable amongst our circle of fashion-savvy friends. Almost instantly, I decided on a chunky, glittery ring from BONBONWHIMS, the jewelry brand that’s been taking over Instagram and infusing a little color and joy into my dreary days of doomscrolling.
I’ve always been a pretty classic accessorizer: a few thin gold necklaces, rings I never take off, maybe a statement earring if I’m on vacation. Last year, though, I lived my life almost entirely in sweats, so accessories and jewelry were the only opportunities to get creative when it came to showing off my personal style. As a result, I found myself gravitating toward more colorful, whimsical pieces. It wasn’t enough to be on-trend; they had to make me smile, too! Lo and behold, my Instagram Explore page brought me to BONBONWHIMS and it was love at first sight.
“I started making whimsical jewelry for myself as an escape and creative outlet years ago to fulfill this creative space that was lacking in my job,” Clare Ngai, BONBONWHIMS founder, tells STYLECASTER. “It was always in the back of my mind to launch, but the pandemic really provided this unprecedented opportunity for me to sit down and turn my dreams into action.”
BONBONWHIMS started small, but it didn’t take long for Ngai’s whimsical creations to take off. “Initially, it was just DM to buy on Instagram and mostly friends and family who supported me. And I did a lot of organic gifting to small creators and influencers who really took a liking to the brand; to this day I’m still incredibly grateful for those who took a chance on an unknown brand from the beginning,” she shares.
“It grew very steadily and organically from there, and suddenly stylists, taste-makers, buyers, editors came across my profile and I feel so blessed to say it’s just been non-stop ever since,” says Ngai.
In addition to 18 thousand devout followers on Instagram, the brand has also gotten attention from a few majorly stylish celebs. Kylie Jenner has been spotted in the Pop Drop Earrings and Custom Pearl Drops Bracelet, and Sofia Richie recently stepped out with a stack of the Adjustable Enamel Drip rings on one hand and the Ling Bling ring on the other.
“It’s mind-blowing really,” says Ngai when asked what it’s like to see such well-known celebs wear her pieces. “To think of all the emerging and established jewelry brands out there trying to have product placement on someone of that caliber—whether it be organic or monetary—I feel beyond humbled and flattered! Also want to give a major acknowledgement to stylists, editors and other industry mavens such as Jill Jacobs and Patti Wilson and their teams who are there to champion small, self-funded brands like mine. A little bit of love goes such a long way and can seriously be life-altering!”
A quick scroll through the brand’s IG looks almost like a candy shop, littered with colors and shapes and marked by a playful fire that, a few months ago, I feared had ceased to burn within the jewelry world, smothered by the weight of a thousand chunky gold hoops from fast-fashion brands.
“Having been a manager of digital-first talent in my past life, I’ve always known the power of social media is staggering,” says Ngai. “But seeing it first hand from the other side and how it can shape and propel a small brand forward that has no actual, physical footprints is quite another story.”
As Ngai and her brand continue to gain recognition, she is intent on giving back to her community. The Ling Bling, a neon orange enamel ring topped by an oval fuchsia crystal, is a piece especially close to Ngai’s heart. 50 percent of profits from every Ling Bling ring benefit organizations working to stop AAPI hate, including GirlTrek, Send Chinatown Love and Stop AAPI Hate.
“The Ling Bling is named after my Chinese name, 齡, which has significant meaning to both me and my parents,” says Ngai. “The launch of this new ring coincidentally collided with the horrible shootings that took place in Atlanta along with the ongoing anti Asian-American sentiment in the U.S. I thought, being in a position of privilege—and also a woman of color and an immigrant from China—I had to do something tangible to help and give back to my own community by donating 50% profits of the ring to charities that actually do the work.”
The ring (and Ngai’s giving sentiment) was more than well-received by her followers. “I remember just crying that entire week from the horrific acts that transpired that week, as well as the outpouring support and love I received from the BONBONWHIMS community.The ring was sold out basically overnight and we are doing a pre-order again right now,” she says.
For my friend’s birthday gift, I settled on a glittery pink heart-shaped ring with a B—and if you think a more perfect ring exists, I highly doubt it. Can I guarantee this piece will be trendy in a few years? No, no I can’t. But will it bring my friend joy in a time when whimsy doesn’t come quite so easy? Absolutely, and because of this, BONBONWHIMS is an absolute must-shop.
Below, read on to check out the brand’s top celeb-loved pieces, plus a few of my own favorites.
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Ling Bling Ring
Available now for pre-order, 50 percent of profits from the Ling Bling will be donated to organizations working to stop AAPI hate.
Pop Drop Earring
These Kylie Jenner-approved single earrings come in an array of colors and resemble soda can pop tabs. Get two in different colors for an extra-playful look.
Rainbow Lucky Ring
Start by selecting your ring color and size, then personalize with the fun charm of your choosing for a custom early aughts-inspired piece.
Adjustable Enamel Drip Band
If you want to be like Sofia Richie, buy a few of these rings in different colors and stack ’em together.
Glitter Lucky Charms
My personal favorites, I love anything I can put my initials on. Shop the Glitter Lucky Charms rings by size and select your colorway from there.