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Transformable, affordable jewellery

Gold cuff inspired by the cutwork of pastillas wrappers. Photo by Nelson Matawaran

Publication Date : 05-10-2012


The cloud has deep meanings in Chinese culture, symbolising both good fortune and immortality.

Likewise, Filipino jeweller Paul Syjuco uses the gourd in his jewellery creations, to represent protection from evil and blessings. He celebrates this by creating white diamond clouds and gourds in a pyrite beaded choker, further adorned with green amethyst.

For her part, designer Kristine Dee fashions cherry blossoms from mother-of-pearl, framed by rose-cut sapphires in a necklace. For a gold cocktail ring, the mother-of-pearl cherry blossoms are accentuated by red spinels. As red and gold are auspicious colours in Chinese culture, they also bring out the purity of the floral designs.


The design duo has chosen “Orientalism” as the theme of their latest collection. They will hold a trunk show on October 13 at Chef Jessie at the Rockwell Club.

“Clients are always looking for something unique and eye-catching,” says Dee. “I’m using mother-of-pearl and creating new bangle shapes.”

Clusters of cherry blossoms form the basic stud of an earring played up with drops of chrysophrase, a green gemstone.

“It looks like jade but is less pricey. It’s beautiful because of its luminosity,” she says.

Dee also draws inspiration from intricate temple details of India and the lacelike designs of Rajasthan. For the pendant, the main stone, morganite, is held in a setting of red spinels and sapphires, reminiscent of the elaborate heart-shaped patterns on the walls of traditional Indian buildings.

The multicolour sapphires adorning the jewellery come in rose cut, a technique common in antique jewellery, characterised by its circular shape and triangular facets.

“Rose-cut stones lend an Old World feel to a piece of jewellery. They soften the look, compared with brilliant cut stones where many facets are cut to make it really bright. This is more about subdued elegance,” says Dee.

'Pastillas' tradition

Dee also looks to the pastillas tradition in Bulacan, with its intricately cut wrappers. The cutout look is interpreted in the finely chiselled cutout patterns on the ring and cuffs, embellished with rose-cut sapphires and spinels in festive colours.

Still, she reverts to her industrial design background by coming out with a bold, asymmetrical cocktail ring and earrings with irregular-cut stones of amethyst and pink sapphires.

“I have also been invited to make a collection this October 17-20 at Manila FAME with Josie Natori. This will consist of silver pieces with gold and precious stone accents. I will give a sneak preview of this during the October 13 show,” she says.

It’s the first time that Syjuco is infusing his collection with softer colours, feminine curves and symbols, unlike his abstract pieces of the past.

“I’m focusing on luck,” he says.

Syjuco is introducing charm bracelets such as the gold chain bracelet with clear rutilated quartz and rock crystals, highlighted by the endless knot—intertwining lines laced with white diamonds—that represent eternal love or wisdom.

The yin and yang charm bracelet features gold coins with white diamonds on one side—Syjuco’s version of polarity. Another bracelet highlights the Chinese coin accentuated by a square diamond pavé at the centre.

One of the most intricate pieces is a pair of “Double Happiness” earrings, which have been inspired by the combination of two Chinese characters. Done in white gold, they glitter with white pavé diamonds.

From nature, he carves floral earrings whose pink, purple and amber-coloured diamonds surrounding the mandarin orange garnet create a floating effect, which further enhances the illumination of the white diamonds.

Versatile pieces

The duo also offers transformables that have long been an essential of fine jewellery, thereby providing women versatility in wearing a piece. The earrings can be dismantled to be worn as simple studs or drop earrings.

Syjuco’s diamond endless knot earrings come with removable baroque pearls. Simple pink spinel and diamond-framed ruby studs turn dramatic with drops of sapphires and tourmalines. Topaz drops add more sparkle to the morganite studs. Its star shape is further enhanced by white diamonds.

The piece de resistance is a pair of earrings that plays on the complementary colours of green and blue-turquoise, prehnite, iolite and diamonds framed in yellow gold.

“Earrings don’t need sizing, unlike rings and bracelets. They are versatile because the studs can be worn for a casual occasion. Put a drop and it becomes dressy,” says Syjuco.

Dee’s earrings are made of a diamond stud with several removable stones—tanzanite, tsavourite and chrysophrase—that can be mixed and matched to produce various combinations.

“Transformable jewellery adds value because the wearer can maximise its use,” says Dee.

Although diamonds and precious stones are still their favourite materials, these jewellery designers say they can get the similar look for less. Spinels mimic the brilliance of the diamonds, and tanzanites can be substituted for blue sapphires and quartz for white topaz and sapphires.

Responding to the challenges of the times, they’ve produced pieces that are sophisticated, unpredictable and, certainly, affordable.

The one-day trunk show and afternoon tea banquet will be held October 13, 2 pm, at Chef Jessie at the Rockwell Club in Metro Manila.


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