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Designer To Know: An Architect Turned Jewellery Designer

By Guan Tan

From left clockwise: unpolished moonstone set on a gold-plated ring, rose quartz and freshwater pearl set on a gold-plated ring, amazonite and freshwater pearl set on a rhodium-plated ring.
 
Pham Quang Tung
From left clockwise: unpolished moonstone set on a gold-plated ring, rose quartz and freshwater pearl set on a gold-plated ring, amazonite and freshwater pearl set on a rhodium-plated ring.

In the three years since launching jewellery label [in]trigue, Jaime Lim has distilled the definition and construction of jewellery. “In architecture, form and function are crucial, as they are in jewellery designs.” The architect started out with simple sketches and jewellery making, until she saw made a business out of it, “I decided to turn my doodles into the real thing, just as in architecture.”

The 35-year-old didn’t stray far from her primary profession – when she’s not designing buildings, Lim picks up pieces of beautiful stones and rocks and sculpts them into miniature structures,  “I use natural, untreated gemstones in my designs to add an interesting element and dimension to the jewellery pieces.”

Pham Quang TungLapis Lazuli set on gold-plated earrings.
Lapis Lazuli set on gold-plated earrings.

“I have always been intrigued by stones. It is very interesting to see the way they form naturally with minerals that are in the ground, get mixed or compressed together, and, as a result, form [these] different types of stones. Each stone has its own DNA per se, every stone is unique especially untreated.” Lim continues to explain that gemstones are conventionally treated with chemicals or heat for a high polish look.

But tampering with nature is something Lim is averse to. Unpolished stones are beautiful in their own right, and refinement processes scar these little fragments of nature. She quickly adds, “Each piece is unique in its own form, and with its own inclusions. Perfect in its imperfections.” 

Pham Quang TungLapis Lazuli set on rhodium-plated pendant and chain.
Lapis Lazuli set on rhodium-plated pendant and chain.

While the local consumption palette for raw jewellery hasn’t matured just yet, Lim searched out a sweet spot – she cuts, shapes, and polishes natural stones minimally for a slightly glossy look.

Her stones originates from several regions – Brazil, Africa and Myanmar amongst others. The market is saturated with high-quality laboratory-made synthetic stones. And it takes a very trained eye and expensive equipment to tell them apart. “Sourcing for the right gemstone is not an easy one. There are times you may be cheated into buying a fake stone, and end up [having] to discard [it],” but Lim is sanguine. “I learn from experience.”

Lim considers the moonstone, lapis lazuli, rose quartz, and aquamarine most well-received amongst local consumers –  owing to familiarity and colour. Lim notes that the public’s response to her jewellery has been optimistic, and reminds us why gemstones are perennially sought-after. Lim draws a parallel to herself, “My favourite gemstone is aquamarine.” And the rationale behind donning gemstones is incredibly simple, “It’s my birthstone!”

 

[in]trigue is available here.

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