Jewel Purpose

The last few years have seen jewellery becoming the statement accessory. More so, in fact, than the ubiquitous ‘it’ bags and statement shoes. Bold eye-catching baubles regularly crop up in front rows at fashion shows, on fashionistas and celebrities. The right piece can dress up an outfit and cement your style, and it can say more about your personality, emotions and life than your outfit. But jewellery needn’t be serious. If you’ve had quite enough of sober jewellery and are looking for something unique and exotic there is a new generation of designers for whom jewellery design signifies more than mere adornment or status.

Pamela Love

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Pamela Love’s experience as an artist, stylist and set designer have stood her in good stead, drawing inspiration from her favorite artists such as Joseph Cornell, Francesco Clemente and Alejandro Jodorowsky she draws on a smattering of references from “nature, music and magic.” The designer worked with Opening Ceremony to create a jewellery line inspired by ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and has also produced custom jewellery for HBO’s hit series ‘True Blood’. She brings to her collections a rock’n’roll-meets-goth edge that is both dark and romantic and is always experimenting with an exotic mix of materials.

Eddie Borgo

Creating pieces for designers Tabitha Simmons, Marchesa and Phillip Lim, it was inevitable that Eddie Borgo would launch his own eponymous line. His collections are a veritable wunderkammer of assorted genres and traditions. Punk and fetish influences are displayed in his padlock jewellery and studded chokers and cuffs, while his Fall/Winter 2011 collection featured architectural elements with tassled and feathered flora and fauna reminiscent of the art deco New York Chrysler Building. There’s no time like the present to add Borgo’s covetable pieces to your collection: they were recently launched in Singapore at Club 21 and Hide and Seek.

Gaia Repossi

Earcuffs and rings in turquoise from the Berbe collection. Available exclusively at Colette
Earcuffs and rings in turquoise from the Berbe collection. Available exclusively at Colette

At just twenty years of age Gaia succeeded as artistic director of Repossi, her family’s jewellery house, and revived the established brand. In only a few years, Gaia has taking the fashion and jewellery world by storm, combining a youthful spirit with family heritage, and haute joaillerie with high street. Her debut collection, Ere by Repossi- a collaborative endeavour with childhood friend Eugenie Niarchos — comprised beautifully detailed and articulated filigree designs. Her intricate signature cuffs and latticed over-the-finger rings, inspired by nomadic and Indian jewellery, have led to collaborations with Alexander Wang and Joseph Altazurra, as well as a sell out collection for Zadig and Voltaire.

Lara Bohinc

Two Sun and Moon Rings, 18ct yellow gold with white agate and 18ct yellow gold with diamonds
Two Sun and Moon Rings, 18ct yellow gold with white agate and 18ct yellow gold with diamonds

Slovenian-born with model looks, Lara Bohinc had stints at Gucci, Costume National, Lanvin and Julien Macdonald before she decided to start her own, now very successful, brand. She embraces a wide range of technical processes in the execution of her work such as photo-etching, laser cutting, and computer design to produce pieces that are bold, feminine and sophisticated. Her jewels have adorned Samantha Cameron, Michelle Obama, Kylie Minogue and Victoria Princess of Sweden as well as a handful of supermodels. Unsurprisingly her collections sell out in London where she has a boutique. Expansion of the brand to include sunglasses, shoes, handbags, belts and scarves, is set to make this a modern luxury goods house to look out for.

Philip Crangi

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Award winning New York designer Philip Crangi‘s collections are inspired by history — Greco Roman artefacts, Byzantine crosses and Japanese armour. Using unusual materials and traditional jewellery-making techniques, the designer describes his aesthetic as “one of contrast in material, colour and mood”. His pieces are heirlooms for a new era — delicate chains with anchor or lock charms in palettes of gold, wrought iron and steel give one the feeling of wearing a long-lost old treasure. Crangi opened his first store in 2009 in New York, which carries the designer’s two lines- his eponymous collection and Giles and Brother, his diffusion collection.

Delfina Delettrez

Delfina Delettrez, a fourth generation Fendi, hails from fashion blue blood. The young designer, though, has forged her own path in making jewellery. Delettrez plays with metals and organic materials — bone, leather, and wood — irreverently mixing them with precious stones to create deeply symbolic gothic creations that reference the young designer’s experiences, desires and dark imagination. Skulls and other body parts, flowers and animals are rendered in exquisite detail to create mini wearable sculptures. A recent collection drew inspiration from factories and insects, with a honeycomb necklace featuring detachable bees so you can make your own unique necklace. Each piece has a story to tell and is made by hand, while many are one-offs based on found artefacts. Her quirky and witty collectible creations have made her a sure favorite in the fashion world.

Shaun Leane

He is a designer known for pushing boundaries, fusing jewellery, fashion and art in pieces so beautifully crafted and so highly sought after that Sotheby’s have described his pieces as ‘antiques of the future’. His long-standing collaboration with Alexander McQueen resulted in provocative catwalk pieces that blurred the lines between jewellery and couture. Shaun Leane‘s collections, drawing from the macabre and nature — earrings in the shape of talons, claws and tusks, or pendants fashioned from bird skulls — have earned him international admiration and acclaim. A recent collaboration with Daphne Guinness — a glove made of 18-carat white gold chainmail and 5,000 pavé diamonds — toured internationally highlighting Leane’s exquisite artistry and mastery of silversmithing.

Not to be outdone by their European and American counterparts, a crop of Asia-based designers have been making their mark across the world with their innovative creations.


Swiss-born Marielle Byworth launched her Marijoli collection in 2006 in Tokyo where she was based. Since then she has pushed the boundaries of jewellery design with her unorthodox combinations of precious and semi-precious stones and modern materials, which have made her pieces highly coveted staples for women internationally — from her home city of Hong Kong, to the red carpet of Cannes. Diamonds are combined with black vinyl, rubies are paired with wood, and coloured stones are layered atop leather to create a look of modern elegance. Her signature Elema collection with its identifiable style has developed a cult following in Hong Kong. All pieces are produced in her ateliers in Hong Kong or Switzerland, and bespoke can also be ordered.


Blacktip Stud Earrings copy
If you’re after conversation-starter jewellery that makes a bold entrance then Singapore and London-based Tara Thadani has a treasure trove of delectable creations for you. Her four-year-old brand, Tsura, draws from nature, infusing an exotic nomadic aesthetic with touches of the mystical, borne out of her extensive travels to far-flung places. Her pieces redefine luxe boho, with an alchemical mix of crystals, shark teeth, precious metals and stones.


A fourth generation diamond dealer from Belgium, it’s fair to say that Hong Kong-based Audrey Savransky, founder of AS29, knows a thing or two about beautiful jewellery. The striking redhead lives and breathes jewellery. Whether it’s delicate pavé diamond flower pieces or edgy fetish inspired collers and bracelets, her jewellery maintains that winning combination of fashion and luxury. Each piece is packaged in a cute leather pill box, to administer a little dose of luxury. This is medicine that goes down easily. Her talent has already been spotted by Colette, Liberty in London, Bon Marché and Harrods.


Founded by Bali-based self-described ‘international gypsy’, J Esteban del Monserrat, these jewellery pieces are as cool and edgy as their creator. I discovered this self-taught jeweller’s work in Melbourne and was immediately drawn in by the rawness of the pieces. Inspired by the cultural aesthetics, history and mysticism of his Latin American heritage del Monserrat‘s pieces are rich in symbolism — from totem animals, Mayan and Aztec culture, Mexican Day of the Dead skulls, and hand-engraved rings that hint at the post-Colombian era. He takes a traditional approach to crafting his pieces too, forging, fusing, punching and beating patterns, metals and gems into bands. The result is a collection of wonderful textured pieces that feel like precious treasures from a bygone era.

La Mouche

Exquisitely crafted by its French-born Hong Kong-based designer to the exacting standards of haute joaillerie, this is heartbreakingly beautiful and unique fine jewellery. Plumbing the depths of history and literature for inspiration, the designer of La Mouche builds each collection around a poem to guide the wearer on a journey, tapping into the romanticism of the poetry of Maupassant, Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Barely in its infancy, and keeping a very discreet low profile (there is no shop and no online order), La Mouche‘s pieces are nonetheless making their way into serious jewellery collections. Pieces can be ordered through the designer who likes to work with his clients directly for personalised one-off pieces. Take my word for it, you’re sure to see La Mouche‘s pieces glittering on the fingers and around the necks of jewellery afficionados. Stay tuned for more on this little gem.

Published as ‘Quirky Obsessions’ in Singapore Harper’s Bazaar, December 2011

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