The unique appeal of natural gemstones, be they druzy or layered, adds to the intriguingly effortless quality of contemporary jewellery. Designers are attracted to the beauty of the unpolished stones and let nature do the work.
Fresh from the Kiln
Minimalistic jewellery with a refreshing pop of colour is the signature style of Singapore-based Fresh from the Kiln. Product designer Hanxi Lee established the online store three years ago as her first foray into jewellery design. Raw gemstones are among the major materials applied to her designs, often combined with ceramic parts and colourful tassels.
“I love the texture of raw gemstones, which I use in my jewellery,” Lee said. She is bewitched by the beautiful layers of compressed soil preserved in sedimentary rocks. “Because different stones come in many different colours, opacities and textures, it’s always fun to mix and match them to form the best combinations.”
Most of Lee’s customers are from Singapore and the US. “[They are] chic ladies in their 20s and 30s who love colours but prefer to keep their accessorising simple,” she said. “We want to keep our jewellery accessible to everyone, so they are about US$20 to US$40 a piece. Definitely still in the affordable range!”
The “Threes” necklace, with three raw gemstones strung together in a line, is one of her customers’ favourite products.
Sarah Lu, owner and designer of Lusix, has been in the jewellery industry as a reseller for almost ten years. Three years ago, on a sourcing trip, she was inspired by the beauty of raw-cut gemstones and decided to become a jewellery designer.
“They are refreshing and totally different from the traditional gemstones that are polished or treated,” the US-based designer said. From then on, she started studying the possibilities of turning them into dainty jewellery while retaining their earthy look; jewellery for both casual wear and wearing at formal occasions such as weddings or proms.
“What I have been doing is following the natural shape, form and texture of the raw material when coming up with designs,” she said. “Tourmaline, with its black, green and pink hues, can be cut and polished as a cabochon, then set in a sterling silver bezel as a ring, or it can be cut into a raw and chunky spike and plated with gold to make a pendant.”
The moon necklace, the delicate choker and the long threader earrings using druzy stones are three of Lusix’s best-selling items. The delicate druzy choker’s minimalistic design and sparkling quality make it Lu’s personal favourite.
In their early 20s to late 40s, Lu’s customers are scattered across different countries and continents from North America and Europe to Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The price range is US$30 to US$150.
Fashion and colourful crystals have always fascinated Mari Nakaizumi since she was a child. In 2012, the Japanese designer started her handmade jewellery line, Sanctuary Jewellery. At the beginning of her jewellery venture she used simple wire-wrapping techniques for her designs, but now she is producing items that involve traditional metalsmithing techniques.
“I love working with raw gemstones with a bit of rustic character rather than impeccable flashy ones. I feel they speak to me more,” she said. She likes to keep her designs simple and to focus on the natural form and beauty of the materials, for example making rings and necklaces with a band or chains going directly into the stones.
Raw crystal necklaces have been some of Nakaizumi’s best-received products, with aquamarine being the most popular gemstone. Her favourite work, however, is earrings made with large Herkimer diamond crystals.
Most of Nakaizumi’s customers are based in the US. Product price ranges from US$20 to just under US$200, but is mostly around US$50 to US$60.