Saturday, October 24, 2009

Love, Yu bridal show

Had done a post a couple of weeks back about wedding jewellery and taking part in a bridal show here. The official shots are out and the pieces are infinitely more beautiful when paired with the gorgeous gowns by Love, Yu and shot by 39 East Photography. Some of my favourite shots here:

Simple trio of necklaces in 18KT rose gold vermeil, worn in the front to dress up a simple neckline. Ee-Lyn's unorthodox wedding looks that would translate very well post-wedding. :)

A simple trio of necklaces worn backward to embellish the bare back of the bride.

Very etheral, this one. With shoulder-duster earrings in polished, hammered sterling silver and white quartz.

More shoulder duster earrings.

Another unorthodox option: pastel colours that worked beautifully with the champagne tones of the smoky quartz and 18KT rose gold earrings. Would work well with an organic bronze cuff too I think.

Loved the train of this one. Paired very simply with shoulder-duster earrings.

A integrated piece: Ee-Lyn's silk jersey gown and one of the art pieces from the label's hill tribe collection. Chunky silver ornaments with custom-cut aquamarines. Definitely unorthodox and definitely translatable post-wedding.

Finally, my absolute favourite dress of Ee-Lyn's collection. Not so much that I thought it was the most beautiful (they were ALL gorgeous) but rather, I loved that this dress could definitely be used after the wedding. Paired with slippers (although I doubt most brides will be using those on their wedding day) and the label's organic hilltribe silver cuff with white sapphires to further highlight the versatility of the look. Great also with shoulder-duster earrings.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saying "I love you"

Here's one way to say "I love you".

S's present to C that she passed to him on their wedding day. A pair of brushed sterling silver collar stays with tiny white sapphires embedded in them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The ethical side of diamond buying

The diamond industry in recent years has been pretty badly hit by bad press, thanks to movies like Blood Diamond. I’m always pretty much supportive when supply chain issues are brought to light as it’s a necessary step in order for businesses to be sustainable. Anyway, as a result, the diamond industry has taken huge steps to correct this issue. In the course of my work with clients and personal research on the supply chain transparency, I discovered some of these resources that might be useful. As such, am sharing them here: - the efforts of trying to stem the flow of conflict diamonds are documented here. - In the interest of fairness, I thought I’d include a voice from the other side: that diamond purchasing does help many African economies and families. It generates employment and income amongst other things.

My own personal reflections are such: The legal and documentary assurance is one thing and is heartening to know that there are such measures put in place. I’ve personally verified that my suppliers are part of these legal networks as mentioned by the Kimberley Process. You can ask me personally for more details if you’d like. J

However, anyone that’s involved in operations will know that legality and documentary proof doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story of what’s happening. As such, I attempted to find out what was going on by talking with suppliers at different levels of the supply chain: from the men who go to the mines and export the gemstone rough, to the ones who have the contacts to purchase rough from the Big Boys in Antwerp and Israel, the cutters and the wholesalers. The personal research resulted in loads of interesting tit-bits and enlightening anecdotes that did shed more light on the supply chain transparency and sustainability issues that I’ve been meaning to find (and I’ll be happy to share personally if you’d like to know the details). However, what remained was still a distinct lack of complete clarity of what was happening on the ground. For one, it was impossible to trace the origins of a white diamond; I believe that there are gemmological labs working on this but this remains elusive as of now. Separately, there still exists a huge amount of wariness of sharing information to business consumers as there’s a belief (and justifiably so) that revealing too much would jeopardise their own businesses. In simple economic terms, lack of knowledge was a good barrier to entry for potential competition and many people were happy to keep trade secrets just that…secret.

What I can vouch for at this present moment is this: a) the legal and documentary evidence that they are adhering to conflict-free practises and b) their personal business ethics of honesty in their dealings with their clients (i.e. me). The rest unfortunately remains a little murky but I endeavour to keep on searching on what’s happening on the ground when possible.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A million-dollar man and the hunt for a diamond

Awhile ago, M contacted me on the sly telling me that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, D. He wanted to surprise her but at the same time, wanted her to be able to get a ring that she would absolutely love but wasn’t entirely confident of his aesthetic or mine without her input – she was someone who had very clear ideas of what she liked aesthetically. Thus, we came up with a plan to have him propose to her with a loose diamond instead. I thought this was pure genius and it spoke volumes of how much he loved her – the effort of going through the trouble of surprising her but at the same time understanding and acknowledging she would have liked to have control over the artistic process.

Thus, we went off on a massive diamond hunt. I’m lucky to be based in Bangkok in that I work with diamond suppliers who are partners with the big companies in Antwerp and New York – the two main diamond capitals of the world. Thus, we had a fantastic access to a huge database of loose diamonds – both round and fancy-shaped. After setting me a budget range, M allowed me almost free reign to decide what I thought would work best and this is where we had a lot of fun.

You see, there are tonnes of information out there that tell you what the objective criteria gemmologists use to assess the value of the diamond, and the rappaport supports these assessments in determining what one should pay for the different specifications of the stones. Knowing all of this, we decided to throw it all out of the window in favour of a highly intuitive choosing process.

For personal reasons, we wanted a radiant-cut diamond, between 1.0-1.5 ct (any bigger and it would have been too big for D) and for aesthetic reasons, we decided that the stone had to be white (with no tinge of yellow), with high luster, and eye-clean. We eventually shortlisted nine diamonds which fit our criteria and we eventually settled on a H colour, VS1 clarity, 1.17 carat radiant-cut diamond that was assessed by HRD Antwerp. We knew that it was objectively not as valued as a D-F colour with a IF-VVS1 clarity but to the eye, this particular H colour/VS1 clarity worked just as well for us aesthetically.

Where we really veered off the beaten path was when we deliberately chose a diamond with blue fluorescence – a characteristic that lowered the objective value of a stone quite significantly. Here, I have to add my own personal input and I feel that with the warmer coloured stones (H colour and below), the blue fluorescence seems to be a nice counteract to the yellow tinge of the diamond. In the whiter colours (D to G), fluorescence doesn’t seem to have any discernable effect. So much to the surprise to some of my diamond dealer contacts, I told them that M and I were very happy in our choice of a mid-fluorescence stone.

The stone far surpassed our expectations. It was actually a lot bigger than what we thought a 1.17 carat diamond would look like because the pavillion was cut relatively shallowly compared to its other radiant sisters. As such, the stone looked more like a 1.7-1.9 ct diamond than a 1.17 ct. And it sparkled like crazy; there wasn’t a hint of yellow and there was no “milkiness” which some of my diamond dealer contacts seem to suggest might be a problem with the fluorescent stones. I fell in love with it on first sight.
So anyway, as I’m writing this, the proposal has been done and D has said yes. I now have the said diamond in my possession again as I embark on a separate journey with D on the designing of the ring. Stay tune for more details as we work together on this unique engagement project. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bridal jewellery

My good friend and fellow designer, Ee-Lyn Tang of Love, Yu, is planning her launch of wedding gowns on 10 Oct 09** at Braise, Sentosa Island, Singapore. Her gowns are a breath of fresh air - none of the traditional beading and heavy embellishment Singaporeans have come to associate with brides but yet at the same time maintaining the much desired glamour and femininity that many of us want on our big day. She's done it through fabrics that are pretty new and innovative - clingy jerseys that drape wonderfully and gorgeous silk combinations that were only recently available overseas. Her signature label's draping and ruching still play a predominant part in her inaugural collection, in much more sophisticated and artisanal detail compared to her ready-to-wear lines.

Anyway, she asked me if I'd like to do the bridal jewellery for the launch event and of course I said yes. The challenge for me was to create the desired feminine glamour while staying true to the label's organic aesthetic. I'm pretty happy with the result - a collaboration between my craftsmen and I; many sleepless nights for us but we were all extremely pleased with the result.

The other important thing for me was to ensure that the pieces were easily translatable - that the brides would be able to wear the pieces again and again, investment pieces almost and also a permanent keepsake of that special day. As such, I did them in 50% reclaimed sterling silver and either gilded them in 18KT rose gold or left them a polished sterling silver. The gemstones I used were in three different tones: a) the soft pinks of the rose de france, b) the champagne, bronzy tones of the smoky quartz and c) the cool sparkle of white quartz; these were all embellished with white sapphires.

**Let me know if you'd like to attend the event. It's 58 sgd for two people if you mention the label's name, and besides the fashion show and goodie bag, you'll be fed with a sumptuous butler-style lunch.