Jewelry Designer Yupadee Kobkul Boonsiri Dies at 51

IndependentsJun 11, 2020

Jewelry Designer Yupadee Kobkul Boonsiri Dies at 51

The award-winning artist, known for her kindness, compassion and playful nature, died of the novel coronavirus.

Brooklyn, N.Y.— Award-winning jewelry designer Yupadee Kobkul Boonsiri died April 28 in Brooklyn, New York after a month-long battle with COVID-19.

She was 51 years old.

Yupadee Kobkul BoonsiriBorn and raised in Thailand, Kobkul Boonsiri earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Silapakorn University in Bangkok.

After immigrating to New York, she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) School of Art and Design. Later, she taught at FIT as an adjunct professor.

“Yupadee was a superb designer and a bright star among her peers,” said Michael Coan, chair emeritus of the Department of Jewelry Design at FIT. “We were lucky to have her return to the classroom to teach.”

Kobkul Boonsiri created both classic and avant-garde jewelry described as “sculptural, bold and often fantastical”—hand-woven gold cuffs studded with Tahitian pearls, rings made from iridescent abalone shell, chic platinum necklaces that extend down the back, and hand-knit gold chain link scarves.

Over the course of her career, she won numerous awards, including the Gold Virtuosi Award at the International Jewelry Design Competition in Venice, the North American Tahitian Pearl Trophy, and a JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award.

In 2012, the Fashion Group International recognized the designer with its Rising Star Award.

“Yupadee was a free-spirited genius, by far the most talented jewelry designer, bar none. Even her stationary work seemed to be kinetic, complimenting the human body and emphasizing every movement of those who wore her jewelry,” said James Grunberger, third-generation owner of Grunberger Jewelers in Stamford, Connecticut, which produced her designs.

Kobkul Boonsiri lived her life with kindness, compassion and a playful exuberance. Like the precious gems in her workshop, she radiated beauty and light.

She also was a devout Buddhist, and her family said her spirituality gives them some comfort.

“As part of Buddhist philosophy, Yupadee was resolved with death,” her family said. “During her month-long intubation, we are confident that she was meditating and we have faith that she left this earth to reach nirvana.”

Kobkul Boonsiri is survived by her husband, Steven Fishman of Brooklyn; her mother, Pornthip Sae Wong; her father, Manus Kobkulboonsiri; and three siblings, P’Yuth, P’Jim and Satta, all of Thailand; sister-in-law Rivkah of Israel; and aunts, uncles and cousins in Massachusetts, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Her family is grateful for the attentive care she received at the temporary intensive care unit at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, especially to Dr. Steven Short, a critical care pulmonologist from Manhattan, Kansas.


to honor Kobkul Boonsiri can be made to Temple Forest Monastery, 32 Derbyshire Lane, Temple, NH, 03804. Her hope was to fund a kuti, a monastic cottage, for the practicing monks there. Her husband has created a fundraiser for the kuti via GoFundMe.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

The Latest

MajorsNov 29, 2021
Here’s a Peek at David Yurman’s Holiday Windows

It’s a wintry wonderland in New York City.

SurveysNov 29, 2021
Survey: Jewelry, Watch Purchases Are Up in 2021

Here’s what else Provoke Insights found in its latest consumer study.

FinancialsNov 29, 2021
WatchBox Secures $165M in Expansion Funding

The pre-owned luxury watch platform also welcomed new members to its board.

Brought to you by
Train Your Staff Today with Interactive eLearning

Join the prestigious brands, industry organizations and sellers using IGI’s educational services.

GradingNov 29, 2021
BIJC, GIA to Offer Distance Learning Scholarships

They will cover the cost of earning a GIA Graduate Gemologist diploma for two students.

Weekly QuizNov 23, 2021
This Week's Quiz
Test your knowledge of jewelry news from the week of Nov. 22-26, 2021.
Take the Quiz
MajorsNov 24, 2021
Here Are This Year’s Black Friday Jewelry, Watch Deals

From Amazon to Zales, several retailers have deals lined up for the shopping holiday.

MajorsNov 24, 2021
Former JCK Associate Publisher Donna Borrelli Dies

The longtime industry veteran had a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

Brought to you by
3 Tips For Entering the Estate Market

Generate foot traffic and expand your jewelry expertise by adding an estate assortment to your store in partnership with Windsor Jewelers, Inc.

MajorsNov 24, 2021
Samuel B Has Now Donated More Than 1M Meals to Feeding America

The company donates 10 meals to the nonprofit for every piece of jewelry it sells.