Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Upcycling for the bespoke party

Upcycling seems to be the newest word in the green movement right now and understandably so. Without consciously realising it, we've been practising it for awhile; the deliberate use of flawed, included gemstones in certain designs because we actually think they look better as compared to their perfect counterparts.

Come 11 Jul 10, we're going to be showcasing these imperfect beauties at The Bespoke Party. While they weren't exactly abandoned by the road, these poor babies are considered inferior by industry players and are very rarely used in fine jewellery. More often than not, they're made into cheap beads or grinded into shards to be used for gemstone paintings or various interior designs.
I bought them happily because I think the contrast of high luster with inclusions would look awesome with the asymmetrical, textured shanks and creative placing of the gems at certain angles. Come down to see what I mean. Prices starts at 390 sgd for a stack of three rings; tourmalines and aquamarines generally tend to go for a lot more with this level of luster.

Mossy, included aquamarine ovals.

Autumn shades of tourmalines.

emerald-cut blue-green tourmalines

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

London Jewellery Week Part Two - The People

When I first went to Europe 9 years ago, the continent fascinated me because it was so different from the region where I grew up in. This was reflected in every imaginable thing possible: from the architecture to the food. I saw beauty in everything and loved all parts of the mundane, including little quirks like the traffic lights in East Berlin and the transport system of all the metropolitan cities.

The one thing that captured me more than anything else though, was the people. I remember faithfully writing in my diary during long train rides and intermittent day-breaks while sightseeing. And while there were mentions of the magnificent piazzas and cathedrals, most of my ramblings were of the conversations I had with people I had met.

9 years later, it’s the same thing. London Jewellery Week was awesome on so many levels, but the things that I play over and over again in my head are the encounters with people. I met countless number of them: members of the media who were so encouraging regarding the brand story of the label, retailers and agents who gave important feedback on the collections, students who shared their dreams of starting their own jewellery design businesses, fellow designers who didn’t know how talented they were and my favourite: the activists and pioneers of the ethical movement in the jewellery industry which are truly mavericks in the best way possible.

Sometimes we tend to think of tangible deliverables only: how many media wanted to feature us, how many retailers showed positive interest in making wholesale purchases. Those went well for us, and we are grateful for that, but if we were to assess the outcome solely in those terms, we would have done the experience a severe discredit. Those conversations with people with vastly different experiences from me and encountering their generosity of spirit through the sharing stories and advice made an unquantifiable positive impact on my growth as a designer committing to address the social and environmental issues through the pieces we create.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Understanding Bespoke

There's often some controversy over the nature of "bespoke": why does a simple dress cost so much more than something that's a lot more elaborate in the stores? why does a simple change to one's order increase the price that much more? Designer Choo Yilin clarifies these issues in a private sale event on 11 Jul 10 and will be sharing her thoughts on what to do in order to get that perfect piece of jewellery or gown at the price you want.

Yilin will be on hand to discuss bespoke comissions as well as have loose gemstones for picking and choosing into stacked rings and bangles.

Ready-to-wear pieces on sale too.

83 Devonshire Road
The Metz
1200 - 1800 hrs

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

London Jewellery Week - Part 1

So, London Jewellery Week is over! It was an amazing trip and I feel so extremely privileged to be part of the experience. The knowledge garnered during the event was phenomenal and I could not have predicted the amount of growth that I would have gotten as a designer. I am grateful.
I wish I could say that I came back with tonnes and tonnes of pictures but the truth is, we were so swamped that these are the only pictures I can share. I didn't even take a single picture of myself - save for S and W taking a picture of me whilst I ate my first meal, jet-lagged, in a tiny Italian trattoria. I am not going to share that. :P
I know I owe loads of people stories and updates of what happened. I'm going to cheat though, and do it in parts, because there's just so much information to process. We're in the midst of talks with stockists and the media right now so stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, I present to you our humble little booth.

That's our little booth. Taken during set-up before the crowds flooded in.

Not taken on the first day and the only reason why I know this is because N's dressed in something different. That's C in the dark background...I think he realised I was shooting him!Check out the artwork in the backdrop - the flowers were made out of used, coloured paper from the London Tube. Befitting of the "ethical" theme of our little pavillion.

Separately, everyone loved the wooden boxes and the rice. We slipped in a write-up of The Jade Series and The Dew Drop Series after the first day because we just couldn't cope with the questions.

Up close in the display case...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hulloooo London!

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go. I was actually slotted to leave for London two nights ago but the flu bug had bit me in between the unforgiving heat of Bangkok and the rushing production issues. So at the wise recommendation of the husband, I spent the weekend doing absolutely nothing at home, and now I feel almost human. :)
I'm terribly excited of course and hear that London weather is awesome right now. Separately, some details have been firmed up. The organisers for London Jewellery Week tell me I'm slotted to speak this Saturday (13 Jun 2010) at 1100 hrs; specifically, I'll be sharing details on how the business is striving to be sustainable and what it means to be ethical from an Asian context. I'll also be part of the ethical panel at 1400 hrs on the same day. It'll be lovely to have some of you come - do let me know if you plan on dropping by.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recycling silver

We thought that we'd share a trip to the refiners to let people have a glimpse of what it's like. The refinerer wasn't working at that time however, so unfortunately we couldn't capture him at his workbench. The silver we took this time was our stock that we got from The Sustainability Event - much thanks to everyone who donated their silver for refining and recycling. :)

Weighing the recycled silver using a really old-school weighing scale.

Old silver that needs to be melted down and then refined to pure (99.9%) silver. The block that you see in the corner's actually blackened sterling silver that's melted into a rectangle. It needs to be refined into tiny balls before it's ready to be used.

Old-school refining tools

It's not completely visible from this picture but there's a vent that allows for proper ventilation of fumes so that the refiner doesn't inhale them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back in Bangkok!

I was away from Bangkok for a month - the longest since September 2007 and I was having huge withdrawal symptoms from creating and being on the production floor. Thus, while I was so happy to be due back to my host city and it was also with some bittersweet emotions that my return was just after the traumatic riots and burnings that took place. My friends and colleagues are safe, but there are underlying feelings of resentment and sadness that will hopefully fade with time.

The week back has been marked with lots of potential disasters that thankfully been resolved:
a) British Airways announcing that the strikes will go through but thankfully my flight will be flying as planned. There might be a change of flight into Gatwick instead of Heathrow though which is a tiny inconvenience;
b) The hotel that I booked did not start operation until yesterday! I called in a few days ago to find out that they had not open and could only breathe easy when I called yesterday to find out that "yes, we are open and yes, we have Wi-Fi."
c) Everyday production crises - rushing to complete production and the commercial invoice for the Freightforwarders and realising to our horror, that we had run out of gemstones and silver. This has since been resolved.
d) Losing luggage at baggage claim. They eventually found it 24 hours later.

Today's the first day that I feel I can breathe easy, which is why Ithought I'd say hullo. In the midst of this journey of preparing for our trade fair, I am constantly reminded by how lucky I am to be surrounded with people who have so graciously lent a hand without any expectation of anything in return. And for that, I am grateful.

Now, London - I think I'm prepared for you. I leave you guys with a terribly unglamorous picture of us taping masking tape to the floor to estimate the space for our display unit for Treasure. Heh.