International brands may rule the city-state’s retail roost, but there is plenty of homegrown design talent as well. Here are five local jewelers whose handcrafted pieces will add a touch of Singaporean sparkle to your wardrobe.
On a sabbatical from the rat race in 2009,former ad executive Carolyn Kan took up silversmithing in Florence, and she never looked back. Named jewelry designer of the year by Elle Singapore in 2010, Kan crafts lighthearted gold and silver pieces whose purposely rough edges “celebrate the beauty of imperfection” and incorporate an element of surprise. Her Heavy Mettle collection features statement-making necklaces and cuffs made of lattice-worked leather that is treated to look like metal, yet feels soft to the touch. Kan’s atelier at 136 Bukit Timah Road is open 2 p.m.–7 p.m. Saturdays, by appointment only otherwise; for stockists, visit carriekrocks.com.
By Invite Only
Vintage charms, raw semiprecious stones, and a touch of nostalgia make their way into the affordable limited-edition jewelry that Trixie Khong’s four-year-old venture, By Invite Only, produces “with heart and passion, not profit margins or profit in mind.” Sold locally and in Jakarta and Hong Kong as well as online, Khong’s range recently expanded to include Turkish maritime pendants shaped like miniature compasses, telescopes, and sextants, most of which actually work (byinviteonly.info).
A regular at Paris Fashion Week, Choo Yilin relies on Chinese jade and Asian motifs such as cherry blossoms and lotus flowers to create her open-ended rings, elegant bangles, and nature-inspired earrings, which she embellishes with vibrant-hued gemstones. Despite her international success, Choo is known for staying loyal to her roots, working closely with traditional artisans around Southeast Asia and regularly reworking local family jewels into her modern, sculptural creations (chooyilin.com).
Edge of Ember
Onetime credit trader Lynette Ong collaborates with fair-trade organizations in Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Nepal to preserve indigenous traditions while employing disadvantaged communities to handcraft her original designs. The result is a line of earrings, necklaces, and rose-gold baubles in bold geometric shapes accented with freshwater pearls and lapis lazuli. As an added bonus for philanthropic-minded shoppers, the company donates 10 percent of its proceeds to charities supporting healthcare and education in the locales where Ong’s artisans work (edgeofember.com).
Pamela Yeo was headed toward a legal career when an internship in Cambodia sparked this young Singaporean’s imagination and a desire to help beyond the courtroom. Yeo teamed up with a Phnom Penh–based demining group to source detonated land-mine fragments, and works with students from Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic School of Design as well as Cambodian craftspeople to turn that scrap brass into wearable works of art dipped in 14-karat gold. Collections entitled Freedom from War, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Poverty are available online and along Orchard Road, though Yeo admits to encountering the “happy problem of demand outpacing our artisans” (saught.com.sg).
Originally appeared in the April/May 2013 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Singapore Bling”)