Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another organic wedding ring pair

R and A contacted me, telling me that they loved the sustainability luxury angle of the label with R being actively involved in CSR in her professional life. Separately, because of cultural reasons, A couldn't have his band done in the traditional 18KT gold as that particular precious metal was reserved for brides. Thus, we used 50% reclaimed sterling silver for his while stayed with the more traditional 18KT white gold for hers.

It so happened that both loved the texture in their pieces and so we scratched both rings liberally and added very heavy milgrain bordering. For the bride, we curved the shank asymmetrically in the label's signature style and added 44 tiny white diamonds on the shank. The diamonds were G colour, VS clarity.

Pretty chuffed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

jade rings as stackables

white quartz, amethyst and pink amethyst checkerboard gems.
Set in 18KT rose gold vermeil bezels.

The One Of A Kind Event

On 28 Nov 09, fashion designer Ee-Lyn Tang of We Love Yu and sustainable jewellery designer Choo Yilin are showcasing a special collection of one-of-a-kind pieces just in time for the holiday season.

The designers will debut this range at The Yu Studio with wine and canap├ęs in a bid to start off the holiday season early. The pieces are a result of creative spurts from each designer, who had designed each piece based on various inspirations throughout the year.

As they weren’t restricted by any collection theme, the pieces are clear originals while keeping to each label’s design philosophies. In line with the year-end holiday glamour, the pieces also tend to be more luxurious and lush than their usual ready-to-wear pieces.

Said Yilin, “Putting together a ready-to-wear collection requires a lot of discipline and focus because each piece needs to fit within a single theme and designers have to factor in “practicality” for everyday use. Sometimes though, I would think of a single, extravagantly lush cocktail ring, which I would have to reject for my ready-to-wear collection for the above reasons, but indulge in the creation of it because it fulfills the need to create without any restrictions. I ensure that the piece stays true to the label’s aesthetic but other than that, I’m not held back by practicality or a particular theme. As such, the pieces tend to be bolder and true conversation-starters.”

Ee-Lyn concurs, ““Sometimes I find myself buying fabrics that I fancy in small quantities when I find myself inspired by it, even if it doesn’t fit into the theme of my current range. And it dawned on me that they would be perfect for the holiday season to create singluar pieces where women would be seeking to dress up in luxury while also having the assurance that the gown they would just be theirs alone.”

Ee-Lyn is offering her dresses and gowns from 350 – 800 sgd and Yilin is offering her jewellery pieces from 280 -1500 sgd. There will also be a small selection of ready-to-wear pieces available from both designers. For more details about the event, please e-mail or

Please RSVP by 27 Nov 09 for catering purposes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Something old, new, borrowed, blue

E had a half-eternity diamond ring (assessed to be a row of 11 three-point diamonds, H/I colour,
SI clarity) that she wanted me to rework into something new.

So, using the theme of "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue", we did the following albeit it wasn't for a bride.

Trio of 18KT white gold half-eternity bands

with milgrain bordering: diamonds, blue sapphires and green sapphires.

Old: The original diamonds;
New: The new additions and modifications;
Borrowed: The trinity ring design that we see quite often;
Blue: The sapphires.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A hunt for another loose diamond

Here’s another short snippet of another diamond hunt that was pretty unorthodox:
This was another engagement project that was a little unique in that D, the female, approached me telling me that C, her boyfriend, and her were shopping together for a loose diamond.

They had done extensive personal research on their own and were pretty clear about what they wanted. Their criteria was as follows:

a) A round brilliant;
b) Diameter at least 6.3mm and above;
c) White, with no tinge of yellow;
d) Eye-clean
e) Maximum brilliance: triple Excellent (where Cut, Symmetry and Polish are all graded with the highest demarcation, “excellent”).

They gave me a certain budget and told me to max out the carat weight (or more accurately, the diameter of the stone). We shortlisted a series of 11 stones that fulfilled all the criteria above, all with tiny little differences: 0.95 ct vs. 1.01 ct; G vs. H colour; GIA vs. IGI; a hearts & arrow one vs. a non-hearts & arrow one.

It took about a week of consultations with family members and more research in Singapore before we decided on the one diamond. The excitement was compounded by the fact that it was a global database of diamonds that saw some of the diamonds being shortlisted by other clients in various parts of the world. This meant that there was a possibility that any one of these stones could suddenly become unavailable with every passing minute. Eventually, after conversations over MSN almost every night, eventually settled on a H colour, VS2 clarity, 3Ex, 6.6mm diameter with slight florescence.

It was a relatively unorthodox choice again:
a) D had people telling her that H colour was potentially teetered on the edge of yellow but she had seen a considerable number of H colour stones and found them white so she went for that.
b) Slight fluorescence which was a big no-no for the more orthodox brokers and collectors but again, she assessed that it didn’t matter.
c) The lab certification was IGI Antwerp, going against orthodox Singaporean recommendations that the stone should come from GIA. (D and I discussed this extensively, and we have our own thoughts on why there seems to be such a strong push toward GIA amongst local diamond brokers in Singapore. I’ll be happy to share it if you contact me personally.)
d) And the best thing of all was that the diameter – a 6.6mm – was a huge bonus for a 1.01 ct. Most 1.01 ct, triple excellents are typically cut a lot deeper which results in a smaller diameter than 6.6mm. To ensure that the fire of the stone was indeed in the “excellent” range despite it slightly shallow cut, we checked the Halloway Cut Advisor and the stone was classified in the “ideal brilliance” category.

When the stone arrived, we were all supremely chuffed. Completely white with not a tinge of yellow, huge and best of all, the fire was seemingly unparalleled, living up to its triple excellent promise. (It can't be captured with my abysmal photography skills though).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wrapping the organic in diamonds

My ready-to-wear line is wholly in silver - either eco-friendly 925 or hilltribe 999 - or vermeil but I do a significant number of private commissions in 18KT solid gold (and some in platinum.)
This is one of my favourite pieces thus far. White diamonds wrapping a very organic aquamarine rough stone (full of inclusions and tiny dendrites) in the label's asymmetrical signature shank. We hammered the 18KT white gold shank liberally to enhance the organic look.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Women Want

Compiled especially for all the hapless men who are lost when it comes to the engagement ring.
1. "I don't get why men spend so much money on the diamond solitaire but place it in a pre-cast metal ring that does nothing for the stone."
2. "I don't need my diamond to be big or my ring to be expensive. However, I'd like it to be unique and thoughtful. Too many rings today look too generic."
3. "I don't even want a diamond solitaire. Something else would work fine."
4. "A fancy-cut diamond would be a nice change. I especially like the radiant or cushion or emerald cuts. Those tend to look quite vintage."
5. "Size isn't everything. Cut is - because it's what determines the brilliance."
6. "I'd like some colour please. How about some coloured gems or even coloured diamonds instead?"
7. "I miss the vintage, feminine look of the rings of yore. The engagement rings today tend to look too industrial."
8. "I like engagement rings that are designed with the idea of having the wedding bands fit against it nicely like a jigsaw puzzle."
9. "I'd like to be proposed to with a loose stone so I can decide on the design myself. I know my poor boy - he wouldn't like the stress of doing anything like that."
10. "Whoever said we needed an engagement ring anyway? How about an engagement something else?"

Harper's Bazaar Nov 09

Click image to enlarge if you'd like to read.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The pricing of loose diamonds

It all started because I had been commissioned to work on a couple of very special rings, primarily engagement ones: Lately, I’ve been tasked to help source for diamonds for clients and non-clients alike. I’ve learnt, through those experiences, that diamond buying is almost like a currency trade (albeit with a little more leeway) where the rapaport has resulted in very clear expectations of what one should pay for a diamond. (I’ve come to realise that few retailers actually practise open rapaport pricing though. Do try to ask for the rapaport from them if you can – I think you’re entitled to know this.)

It’s a little unorthodox to come up front and say this, given that I’m in the fine jewellery industry, but I have huge personal issues with the way diamonds are priced. A little research will show how the supply of rough diamonds has been artificially controlled such that the market prices of diamonds would be priced in such a way that wouldn’t reflect true supply. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t buy diamonds – I’d be a hypocrite to say that, because I have to confess that I’m a huge fan of how they sparkle and gleam; their refractive index is like no other. The point is though: the mark-up on diamonds is high enough and in an ideal world, their prices should more accurately reflect their actual supply.

As such, it’s been a great pleasure of mine to help source for the best-priced diamonds out there; each diamond hunt has turned out to be an exciting challenge for us to decide which diamond would best fit each client’s needs. So far, we’ve found no other Singaporean source that’s more competitively priced than bluenile (we're on the continuous search to better this though so let us know). It turns out that because I work with suppliers that are at the beginning of the supply chain for loose diamonds, we were able to match, or even beat, bluenile.

What’s been a surprising pleasure has been the actual hunt for each diamond itself – they’ve turned out to be adrenaline rushes where excitement peaks as we try to decide what works best in a short amount of time. I’ll be writing a little about these actual hunts and what actually goes on in a later post. In the meantime, check out diamond helpers. It’s an invaluable resource in demonstrating how diamonds are priced on the rapaport – no other gemstone has this kind of detailed, systematic breakdown in terms of pricing and it'll be a fascinating read for those who want to understand the objective considerations of diamond pricing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Making old-fashioned jade new again

Being Chinese, I’ve grown up with the myths surrounding jade. Highly revered for many reasons – from it being a symbol of many Confucian virtues to its protective and “lucky” qualities, jade was more valued that gold. My mother’s and grandmother’s generation used to talk about how jade could “breathe” and was “alive” in that the jade would change colours with the energy of a person. All this seemed to have died out with my peers though, with many of them preferring the brilliance of other gemstones compared to the subtle luster of jade.

jade rings in pink amethyst, yellow quartz and white quartz checkerboards. 18KT rose gold vermeil.

jade ring with amethyst marquises checkerboards. 200 sgd each.

I’ve grown to love it a lot in recent years, thinking of it as an aesthetic symbol of my heritage albeit one that I should know a lot more about but don’t. I confess that I don’t know when I got the idea of designing an entire line in jade – many of my ideas come so intuitively and appear as if they’ve been there the entire time; merely just emerging to my consciousness spontaneously – but I loved the idea immediately. It was a huge challenge though, given the label’s themes of colour, organic aesthetic and sustainability – how would I fuse these themes with existing pieces of jade?

jade bangle converted to large pendant with various faceted gemstones: iolite, smoky quartz and amethyst. 660 sgd.

jade doughnut pendant necklaces, embellished with vermeil caps and sapphires. 280 sgd each.

But strangely enough, the designs came to me easily and naturally and it fit in wonderfully with the label’s themes. In order to convey the organic look, my craftsmen and I kept very strictly to a highly hammered texture for all the pieces. Then, we added highly faceted gemstones that would glitter in stark contrast to the subtle, opaque luster of jade. The silver and vermeil pieces were all made with at least 50% reclaimed silver, again in line with the sustainability theme.

jade doughnut earrings with amethyst gemstones embellished. 480 sgd a pair.

jade bangle embellished with vermeil and sapphires and spinels. 380 sgd each.
The jade pieces used were all Grade A jadeite (no treatment), albeit not of the kind of quality that are auctioned off at Sothebys and Christies. I gravitated toward either of pale aqua colour or a olive, khaki green – less objectively valued by the market than its emerald and apple green counterparts but beautiful nonetheless.

jade bangle embellished with vermeil and green sapphires and rubies. 380 sgd each.

jade bangle embellished with green and blue sapphires. 380 each.

This was the end result for my inaugural jade collection: a fusion of old-world Chinese culture and my own interpretation of modern luxury. And I am supremely excited and proud to announce that they are exclusively at Tangs+Co in Singapore and range between 180 sgd for a simple ring to 660 sgd for a large necklace.