Minimalist jewellery has a beauty of its own

Understated designs and ease in mixing and matching has made minimalist jewellery the trend of the times.

THE famous phrase “less is more” describes minimalist jewellery perfectly.

As the name suggests, these items are minimal in size, design and style but the delicate and dainty rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants have become popular choices for many women and, to some extent, men.

According to jewelstreet.com, in the jewel-

lery world, unfussy, understated designs reign supreme and every day, more people are following the trend.

The concept of wearing small pieces of jewellery is not new but the evolution in style and design has made it covered with today’s fashion world.

This trend has been partly influenced by celebrities, the instafamous and popular bloggers who are often seen wearing and promoting minimalist jewellery.

The trend is also fast catching up in Malaysia as there are now a few brands with their own collections.

Here are two of the local brands that have created their own versions of minimalist jewellery:

THE STRAITS FINERY

Co-owned by friends, Foo Chia Chern and Amira Yahya, the brand was born out of their love for fine jewellery.


Amira Yahya (left) and Foo Chia Chern

Both women, who have known each other since their schooldays in Penang, left their jobs to set up the business in 2016 as they felt it was the right direction for them.

At that time the concept of minimalist jewel-

lery was becoming popular in Malaysia.

Both have had a passion for jewellery from young but as their styles evolved, they wanted designs that were modern, contemporary and subtle.

“We wanted something simple and easy which we couldn’t find in the market. I used to wear a lot of jewellery when I was younger but they were chunky. After a while it gets in the way.

“As my style evolved with age, I tried to streamline my accessories. The idea is to create pieces that one can wear every day, all day and which are aesthetically pleasing,” says Foo.

It took them about a year — from conception to design — to launch their first collection. It was a learning process for both as they did not have any experience in jewellery making. To equip themselves with knowledge of metals and the creation process, Foo and Amira took up silversmithing classes for eight months.

Foo says it is important to learn the process so that they have a frame of reference when they send their designs to the jewellery maker.

They learnt many things, including how to bend and shape a one millimetre-thick wire into a ring. As Foo explains, drawing and designing the pieces and crafting them are two totally different processes.

Their first collection — Luna — was launched in 2016 and comprised nine rings, two necklaces and two earrings. The rings can be worn individually or stacked together.


Stacked rings in the Luna collection

The Luna collection takes inspiration from the moon and nature’s basic shape — the circle.

“We did a different permutation of the circle for Luna which allows the wearer to use them as he or she pleases, whether individually or slotted into each other. The nine rings tell our story, the beginning of our brand and what it is all about,” says Foo who is the lead designer.

The collection — handcrafted by a skilled artisan in Bali — is made of 14-karat gold as well as sterling silver.

Amira says 14-karat gold has a composition of 60 per cent gold mixed with other alloys. This makes it very hardy, it won’t bend out of shape and does not tarnish. It is also easier to create the dainty and delicate pieces with 14-karat gold as its thickness is only about one millimetre.

“We have always admired European jewellery because lighter karat gold is used which means the tone is more champagne as opposed to the yellow hue of 22-karat gold. We also decided on 14-karat gold as no one makes jewellery with it here.”

With the success of their first collection, the duo launched Musim — the second collection — last year. The collection has five rings, four earrings and two necklaces. Each piece has tiny droplets that represent the seasonal theme — Cloud, Rain, Matahari and Malai.

They were created using the granulation technique where the metal is heated until it melts and then formed into a tiny ball shape.

“We really like the technique, as you can see the metal looks like droplets. These rings are also stackable to fit in with those in the first collection. The wearer can interchange pieces from both the collections, so there’s this element of flexibility,” adds Foo.

For the second collection, they formed a partnership with a jewellery maker in Vietnam. As the stackable rings need perfect measurements, hand crafting them is difficult.

“We were happy having them hand-made at first but soon realised that this resulted in too many variables with the rings. Even if it is one millimetre off, they won’t fit well with each other. That is when we realised we could not have them handmade as they needed to be precisely done.

“Now, we make the prototypes and send them to Vietnam. The jewellery maker will make a cast for the pieces and then hand finish each piece.”


Straits Finery’s Luna and Musim collections.

Last December, the duo launched a capsule collection of earrings in collaboration with multi-label concept store Snackfood founder, Adeline Chong.

Titled Coming of Age, the concept consists of three essential earrings that every woman needs. It is inspired by a woman’s journey of self-discovery through constant reinvention. The collection comprises three pairs of earrings in 14-karat solid gold: Tic Tac, Tomboy and Waterfall.

Tic Tac is a pair of mismatched stud earrings inspired by youthful rebellion; Tomboy celebrates a period of experimentation, androgyny and adventure; and Waterfall is a nod to the arrival of adulthood and confidence after one’s journey of self-discovery.

“Tic Tac is the type of stud earring that every girl owns when she has her ears pierced for the first time. Tomboy is an ear cuff which I always wanted when I was younger but dared not have. It represents the rebellious years of a teenage girl. Waterfall represents a more mature woman,” says Chong.

Foo and Amira are working on Straits Finery’s third collection, which they plan to launch in batches instead of all at once. The rings in the third collection will also be stackable just like those in the first and second collections.

“The idea is to trim, edit the choices. We don’t want to overwhelm customers with too many designs. Since the jewellery is minimalist, it is easy to mix and match.”

The Straits Finery range of gold rings, earrings and necklaces are priced between RM360 and RM1,880.

For silver, the pieces are between RM170 and RM580. The collections are only available at www.thestraitsfinery.com.

MINIMALIST LAB

While other brands focus on earrings, rings and necklaces, Minimalist Lab is all about creating minimalist charms.


Charms are best described as emotional jewellery

To co-founder Nicole Chia, the charm is an emotional piece of jewellery, far more than just an accessory.

Charms are often gifted to mark or represent a special or happy event in life and Chia says they are a lovely reminder that one should be grateful for everything one has.

Chia set up Minimalist Lab in 2014 with her husband Nicholas Goh. They first opened a stall in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, followed by kiosks in Mid Valley and Isetan KLCC. Their products are also available at minimalistlab.com.

The charms are gold-plated and the brand also sells leather bracelets and gold and silver-plated necklaces that can be fitted with the charms. Prices range from RM69 to RM89.

“Customers can either purchase the charm alone or together with the necklaces or bracelet. Our customers are mainly women between their early twenties and mid thirties.

“The pieces are simple and minimal with classic designs. They are perfect for daily wear and for special occasions,” says Chia.


Minimalist Lab's owner, Nicole Chia

Designed by a silversmith in Thailand, the charms come in shapes such as unicorn, hippie feather, butterfly, anchor, ballerina, snowflake, heart, rose, cupid and key. The most popular designs are the clover leaf and the symbol for infinity.

Each charm comes with a gold-debossed card containing an inspiring message, is fitted into a white box and hand-wrapped with metallic satin ribbons, and carries a gift tag.


Layers of charms with silver and leather bracelets from Minimalist Lab.

While the husband and wife are not involved in the designing process, some of the charm designs are exclusive to Minimalist Lab.

“We want the charm to be a meaningful gift. From the charm to the packaging and the message, they all have meaning,” adds Chia.

kasmiah@nst.com.my

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