Industry / Pearls

How I Got Here: Jongjin Jungsura Wants Gen Z to Drape Themselves in Pearls


Should you be lucky enough to visit Bangkok, luxury pearl brand Matara’s CEO Jongjin “Jin” Jungsura would like to extend a personal invitation to visit one of its four retail locations there—a true symbol of Jungsura’s hospitality background.

Before she cofounded this modern pearl brand, Jungsura got her master’s in international management at the Royal Holloway in the United Kingdom, studied hospitality in Switzerland, and worked within this industry in Bangkok, where she was born and raised. So, you could say welcoming people with charm and grace is both her personal and professional skill.

Jungsura is one of three founders of Matara, which since its beginnings in 2014 has worked to develop a pearl brand that reaches luxury buyers as well as Gen Z trendsetters. That’s why Jungsura says having a hospitality mindset has proven its value time and again over the past eight years.

“It was a great introduction to the international, customer-focused world as well as enabled me to live in and work in close contact with people from all over the world—those discerning people who well understood fashion, luxury, travel, and lived experiences,” Jungsura says.

Matara is an amalgam of the names of its three founders and childhood friends, from left: Salil “Tangmo” Andraphan, Jongjin “Jin” Jungsura, and Patchaploy “Prae” Matarungsombat. 

Jungsura was born in Thailand and grew up fascinated with pearls and jewelry. Her mother, who was born in June, always loved her birthstone and wore pearls frequently. The pearl’s beauty captivated her in a memorable way, she says.

“It’s had an enchantment for me on a personal, intergenerational, and family bond level,” Jungsura says. “Like most girls growing up, I also had a great love of jewelry and often wondered where some of the beautiful and imaginative designs that high-society ladies and global celebrities would wear had been created.”

Jungsura’s education was her primary focus as a child and teen—something that influences her as well today in that school is where she met her Matara cofounders. While attending St. Francis Xavier Convent School, Jungsura met Salil “Tangmo” Andraphan and Patchaploy “Prae” Matarungsombat, and the three became a bonded trio. Andraphan serves as the brand’s CCO  and Matarungsombat is its COO.

They all continued together to Chulalongkorn University, but went down different career roads from there while remaining friends. Jungsura says that “everlasting friendship” is what drew them together to see pearls as their entry point into the jewelry industry.

“In 2014, we aimed to be a power trip in the world of jewelry and decided to set up a pearl jewelry business as we saw a gap in the market,” Jungsura says. “Our concept was we want to change traditional view and reinvent pearls for young, modern women. At the same time, we also wanted to educate consumers about pearls and make them part of our journey.”

Matara Shield earrings
Matara’s Shield earrings of mother-of-pearl, diamonds, and white gold are a good example of the strong, modern lines and fresh approach to pearls that the brand’s founders want to have ($6,430).

Having that hospitality background was key to this part of the process, Jungsura says.

“There is a great deal of creative expression from our perspective in driving the market beyond what it has traditionally expected of pearls and pearl jewelry. For example, young jewelry buyers have traditionally looked beyond pearl, believing that it’s something for an older generation, or that it may not be suitable for young, edgy, or clean-cut fashion, and instead gravitate toward more minimalist pieces or celebrity-led styles,” Jungsura says.

“We pressed ahead because we could see there is so much that we could offer through our brand and artist collaborations and collections that embrace modern themes and in-vogue societal aspects, such as diversity, bonding, inclusion, freedom, and international cultural influences, which are once again delightfully being unleashed by the removal of global travel restrictions,” she says.

The coronavirus pandemic and its related shutdowns gave Matara a focus on commissions and custom designs. The brand has grown to offer a fine jewelry collection, high jewelry, and a flagship Matara Diamond collection along with its boutiques. Its latest location debuted in December in the Gaysorn Centre.

“We’ve been fortunate post-covid that we’ve managed to rely on our strong, small niche community of clients who enjoy wearing our designs and stay in close contact for special commissions, or simply to follow our latest international jewelry designer collaborations,” Jungsura says. “Our customers have played a huge part in our origin story and rise to international repute.”

Top: Jongjin “Jin” Jungsura and her two childhood best friends cofounded pearl brand Matara in 2014 with more than 30 collections today that she says are fresh, modern, and new takes on this beloved gemstone (photos courtesy of Matara). 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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