Pearl, gold, jade get modern updates, win younger fans

Gen.K Jewelry founder Genevie Yeo designs her own jade pieces, which are decorated with silver and gold as well as details inspired by flora and fauna such as bees, honeycomb patterns and ladybugs. Rachael Leong's (above) brand Lucy & Mui offers diam
Gen.K Jewelry founder Genevie Yeo designs her own jade pieces, which are decorated with silver and gold as well as details inspired by flora and fauna such as bees, honeycomb patterns and ladybugs. PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Gen.K Jewelry founder Genevie Yeo designs her own jade pieces, which are decorated with silver and gold as well as details inspired by flora and fauna such as bees, honeycomb patterns and ladybugs. Rachael Leong's (above) brand Lucy & Mui offers diam
Rachael Leong's (above) brand Lucy & Mui offers diamonds and gemstones set in thread-thin gold rings and earrings.ST PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO, SEAH KWANG PENG

Traditional pearl, yellow gold and jade jewellery are getting an update and winning over new, younger fans

Pearl, yellow gold and jade jewellery are enjoying a revival, after years of being typecast as old-fashioned.

Over the past three years, a slew of new local designers have pushed out pieces that break the mould of traditional designs. Existing jewellery chains such as Goldheart and Risis are also launching contemporary pieces to appeal to a wider market.

Fuelling the trend are consumers who want daring and bold items to stand out from the crowd, and celebrities such as Rihanna have been spotted multiple times with pearl and yellow gold accessories.

Modern jade jewellery label Gen.K Jewelry opened in 2015 after its founder Genevie Yeo realised that younger women were showing an interest in jade.

She says: "There are more (people) starting to love the concept of giving traditional jewellery a modern twist. Maybe they find it fresh."

 

The 37-year-old, who designs her own jewellery, sells pieces decorated with silver and gold as well as details inspired by flora and fauna such as bees, honeycomb patterns and ladybugs. She also sells lavender and apple green-coloured jade.

Her customers are mostly women in their late 20s to mid-30s, she says.

Sales have gone up by three times in the past year, justifying her move last week from a shared space in a shophouse in Seah Street to her own unit at Pacific Plaza.

Meanwhile, modern jade jewellery designer Choo Yilin, a pioneer in the industry with an atelier in Joo Chiat, says overall sales have doubled over the past three years. The 36-year-old opened a new boutique at Mandarin Gallery last July.

Gen.K Jewelry founder Genevie Yeo designs her own jade pieces, which are decorated with silver and gold as well as details inspired by flora and fauna such as bees, honeycomb patterns and ladybugs. Rachael Leong's (above) brand Lucy & Mui offers diam
Afzal Imram and Lin Ruiyin’s (both above) State Property specialises in unique pieces which use pearls and other precious metals and stones. ST PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO, SEAH KWANG PENG

Other jewellery designers are also jumping into the fray.

State Property opened in 2015 to offer unique pieces such as a yellow gold ring coated in black rhodium that wears off over time to reveal the gold beneath. It also dabbles in pearls and other precious metals and stones.

Lucy & Mui launched in 2015 and offers diamonds and gemstones set in thread-thin gold rings and earrings.

Others, such as jeweller Kristine Wong, who has been designing bespoke jewellery since 2010, have noticed an increased interest in yellow gold.

"Sometimes what is old is new again. As younger people look to create unique looks, they become more open to wearing mixed coloured precious metals," she says.

Established jewellery chains Goldheart and Risis have also started putting a modern spin on yellow gold designs and independent jeweller Carolyn Kan of Carrie K., who works with precious metals including yellow gold, is launching a pearl collection today.

Sometimes what is old is new again. As younger people look to create unique looks, they become more open to wearing mixed coloured precious metals.

JEWELLER KRISTINE WONG, who designs bespoke jewellery

Goldheart, which started with three modern yellow gold collections and currently has nine, started designing modern yellow gold jewellery in 2012 when it realised there were "limited selections of trendy gold jewellery catering to sophisticated and stylish women", says Ms Iris Tan, its brand manager.

The 21-outlet chain recently appointed actress Rebecca Lim as an ambassador "to make a stronger statement that modern women can wear gold".

"We saw a growing demand for contemporary gold jewellery," says Ms Tan, adding that the brand offers geometric and floral designs in a champagne yellow gold.

"Champagne yellow looks more youthful and is easier to match with everyday wear."

Mr Afzal Imram, co-founder of State Property, hopes that more people will come to appreciate the natural colour of gold.

"It's so classic, like a white or black T-shirt," says the 28-year-old, who is trained in industrial design. The brand's yellow gold wedding bands, some of which come with a silk matte finishing, invoke surprise from clients who did not realise yellow gold could look rugged and cool.

Over at Carrie K., pearls are taking centre stage.

Realising that the market was limited to simple pearl earrings and necklaces, its founder Kan, 45, challenged herself to reinvent classic styles.

The brand's new Pearls of Wisdom collection, includes items such as an open-neck choker of pearls strung on a piece of wire, with a detachable strand of pearls hanging from it.

There is also a series of interchangeable sterling silver chains that can be attached to the pearl necklace to create a longer piece that can be worn in multiple ways. A strand of pearls starts at $838, depending on the type of pearls and length of the necklace.

"It's about making heritage or traditional pieces relevant again," Kan says.

"We've taken the classic heirloom and redesigned it."

"(My customers have) always wanted a pearl necklace, but they didn't like the traditional design."

It is the same with jade jewellery, which needed a design update to appeal to the 21st-century woman.

Choo, who founded her eponymous jade label in 2009, says: "What we have done is to weave heritage stories in with intricate metal work around jade, like our Peranakan and Sakura motifs, for example.

"And that has basically signalled to younger women that jade is accessible to them and not just their grandmothers."


Some pieces to check out

STATE PROPERTY

Salander Noir black rhodium plated 18K yellow gold ring with diamond (made to order), $2,900

Adella earrings with Akoya pearls and 18K rose gold, $432

LUCY & MUI

Mod baguette diamond ring in gold (above), US$320 (about S$430)

Teardrop diamond twist ring in gold, US$350

CARRIE K.

Teeth white pearl 925 sterling silver ring plated in 18K gold, $188

Teeth white pearl 925 sterling silver ear jacket plated in 18K gold, $168

GEN.K JEWELRY

Signature jade ring in 925 sterling silver and plated in 18K rose gold, $368

Lavender jade bangle with bee and honeycomb design, from $1,688

GOLDHEART

Lattice gold bangle (above) from the MODE Gold 916 collection, price on request

Twirl rings from the MODE Gold 916 collection (comes in high-gloss or textured finishes), price on request

RISIS

Oncidium Wildcat orchid slider preserved in palladium gold with crystal tailends, $159 (above)

Ascocenda Orchid bough ring plated in 18K rose gold and rhodium, $129

CHOO YILIN

Peranakan Classic jade bangle, prices start at $3,900 for sterling silver, $5,100 for 9k solid gold and $7,500 for 18k solid gold. Prices are before GST

Peranakan Lace jade drops in white rhodium and london blue topaz, prices start at $628 for sterling silver, $1,288 for 9K solid gold and $2,188 for 18K solid gold. Prices are before GST

POH HENG

22K gold ORO22 ring in Moonlight Glow, $2,500

22K gold ORO22 bangle in Moonlight Glow, $29,000

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Modern take on classic gems'. Print Edition | Subscribe