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Designer's jewels no longer a secret

IN AN unassuming white brick studio in western Sydney, Jenny Mercian delicately lines up jars of coloured jewels.

It is here in the small room attached to her parents' one-storey house that jewellery masterpieces worn by international supermodels Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum and Miranda Kerr are created.

Although Mercian is largely unknown in Australia, her jewellery label - Manik Mercian, her middle and last names - is whispered in the same breath as Vivienne Westwood in international fashion circles.

The 33-year-old jewellery designer was spotted at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney in 2005 by a talent scout for the Victoria's Secret creative team.

''I was doing jewellery as a hobby and someone said to me, 'Why don't you do fashion week and see how it goes?''' Ms Mercian, who studied a degree in fashion and textiles at the University of Technology, said.

She scraped together her savings for the display and became an in-demand accessory jeweller around the world.


Her pieces of body jewellery include sparkled vests, glittery bras, wings and diamond wheels that average $100,000 a piece, weigh up to 20 kilos in crystals and can take up five months to create.

Jewellery couture has always interested Mercian, who would raid her grandmother's jewels from an early age. ''No one had taught me how to solder or anything,'' Ms Mercian said.

''I just picked up an object and looked how it would be made. I bought a soldering machine and started practising with it, joining beads and joining pearls. It's all trial and error.''

One piece that she created for Jaeger London has sold out at London's flagship store, Harrods.

But after seven years of couture fittings, she will miss next Wednesday's Victoria's Secret show. She has an even bigger event to plan - her February wedding.

''Planning a wedding is actually more time-consuming than doing a show,'' she said.