Visitors and local people are well aware of Singapore’s dynamic shopping scene. The country’s vibrant mix of cultures and role as an international travel hub make it particularly enticing, and also remarkably diverse: there is, naturally, a vast range of international labels to choose from and running alongside these big-name options are items made by local creatives.
Jewellery is one sector where independent labels are taking off in Singapore. Joanne Low, a former lawyer, set up her label Joanne L in 2012 after training as a jewellery designer. ‘There has never been a more exciting time to be a jewellery designer in Singapore,’ she says, pointing out that the Singapore government has been particular active in helping local companies in the last few years.
Low is passionate about designing and about the items she makes. The majority of Low’s handcrafting involves metalsmithing which requires many processes, including hand-cutting, melting, shaping and polishing ‘repeatedly and in stages’. ‘A single piece could mean that I’m at my workbench for several days and nights working on one piece,’ she explains. ‘The more I work with each piece and with the metal, the more I understand its behaviour.’ Low goes on to say that each item she makes, whether it involves metalsmithing or another craft, is created ‘by a different movement, an improved technique, a new inspiration or a greater level of skill. I now appreciate how much work, love and effort goes into traditionally handcrafted jewellery.’ This attention to detail is evident throughout the Joanne L collections, whether a textured, hand-moulded brass cuff or a hand-etched piece in gold-gilded sterling silver.
Another notable jewellery designer, Natalie Elverd creates beautiful yet playful pieces under her Elverd Designs label. ‘I want my customers to feel they are buying a special piece that has not been mass produced,’ she explains. Her collection feature colourful stones such as green amethyst, striking cuts and an art deco influence. ‘We use beautiful handcut natural gemstones. I love sourcing and hunting for stones and colours that are not traditionally known or expected in jewellery,’ she says. Eye-catching accessories in her collection include fine gold necklaces and rings finished with striking jet-black onyx stones. ‘I perhaps favour black onyx for its strength and grounding properties,’ she says.
Blithe & Merry
The city-state itself provides inspiration for many of Singapore’s home-grown jewellery designers. At Blithe & Merry for example, designer Joanna Wee looks to the streets to inspire her creations. ‘Singapore's fashion scene is becoming more vibrant and diverse. I now see increasing numbers of people dressing to show their personalities. They are reflecting their own point of view in the way they style themselves, which is fun and exciting to observe.’ The label specialises in handcrafted leather cuffs with rhinestones; bright and eye-catching, they are quickly becoming must-have items among Singapore’s fashion insiders.
Originally from India, Anaita Thakkar moved to Singapore and set up Lustre Jewellery in 2011 to address a gap in the market. ‘When I moved here, I realised that there were a lot of high-end fine jewellery stores, and a lot of smaller shops that sold mass-produced pieces, but there was no one selling gemstone jewellery at an affordable price point. Given my life-long love of gemstones, it was a natural progression for me.’
The independent jewellery and fashion community has moved on significantly in the time that Thakkar has been living in Singapore and it looks set to continue in a positive direction. ‘The Singapore creative scene is young but growing,’ says Thakkar. ‘There’s no reason why Singapore shouldn’t be the next fashion hub of Asia. The jewellery sector here in particular has some amazing talent.’