If there’s one fashion tip I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that a good piece of jewellery can make or break an outfit. Thankfully, if you’re looking to shop more mindfully, there’s a growing number of independent jewellery designers producing handcrafted, ethically-made and sustainable designs that do good and look incredible at the same time (psst! what’s more, you’ll find they’re affordable too.)
Here’s a selection of my favourite Singapore-based labels to know. One of these handmade accessories would make the perfect gift for someone special, or a stylish treat for yourself (hey, no hints required!)
I first spied Twin Within fairtrade jewellery at a pop-up market in Singapore, and then got to know founder and designer Kristín Maríella through a feature on eco-friendly businesses I was writing for the magazine. Ethically hand made from yachting rope, rubber tubing and brass by mothers in need at the FOCOLARE organisation in Tagaytay, Philippines, each necklace produced gives them stable employment and income.
I can’t believe how much wardrobe mileage my Elba necklace has done already. The design is statement, but it’s deceptively versatile, and goes with so many outfits (it really dresses up a simple tee and denim combo, too).
If there’s ever an example of how hardware can come together creatively to make a stunning and durable final product, then Yard Yarn’s designs are it. From bracelets to earrings and necklaces, the talented Gin Tan (who graduated from Temasek Polytechnic, School of Design) makes each and every piece meticulously by hand from acrylic, stainless steel, crystal beads and more. I own three pieces by Yard Yarn now and I always get asked where they’re from!
My new favourite is the Egyptian-inspired “Emeli” necklace (pictured) which looks as good styled over a strappy dress for cocktails as it does over basics for daytime casual.
Crafted from the natural, renewable material White wood (only the branches of trees are cut off, so the tree itself continues to grow, meaning less wastage) WoonHung’s necklaces are produced in Cebu, Philippines, where the production helps to provide a livelihood for local craftspeople.
The wood itself is cut, smoothed and shaped by hand into the delicate beads that you see in the final designs. Personally, I love the variety of vibrant shades across the necklace series, and the look and feel of the final product.
Another discovery from last year’s Boutique’s fair, ALT jewellery is crafted in fair trade workshops in Cambodia by artisans seeking a more sustainable livelihood.
Aside from the modern and minimal statement designs (love this innovative shoulder blade necklace combo), the cool thing about the construction is that the base metal of each piece is made from spent bombshell casing, remnants of the Vietnam War. For that reason, designer Angie Lai-Tay (who’s also the founder of online boutique Curated Editions) intends each piece to remind both wearer and maker of peace and personal strength.
All jewellery produced by Singapore-based label Eden + Elie celebrates the maker revolution through intricate artisanal bead weaving using responsible sourced materials (I’ve tried this before, and for a sewing novice gosh, does this take patience!) The detail, especially seen up close, is really incredible, and at a glance you can just imagine the care and precision that’s gone into crafting each piece.
The high-quality delica seed beads used in in the label’s designs are all sourced from Miyuki, the oldest seed bead manufacturer in Japan. Apparently, one tube of 24-carat gold plated delicas – which are more durable in this humid climate – can cost 10 times the price of ordinary glass seed beads sourced from cheaper suppliers in countries like China, India or Mexico!
For more posts about sustainable fashion and emerging designers, get clicking here.