Swayed by the Jade
Once deemed an accessor y for the elder folk, jade has a newfound appreciation by the younger generation, partly thanks to jeweller y designer Choo Yilin’s modern interpretation of the stone, writes Elizabeth Soong
With the interpretation of a young mind put to work, this perennial jewel gets a modern twist. Plus some tips on what to look out for when shopping for these stones
When someone mentions the word ‘jade’, I would think of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers with their paper-soft skin over gnarled limbs and the ubiquitous jade bangles and pendants,” Choo Yilin shared. “I have these deeply nostalgic, comforting memories of climbing onto their laps and playing with their pendants and bangles when I was a child.” Having said that, Yilin, a jade jewellery designer herself, is determined to change this perception. A fifth-generation Straits Chinese immigrant from Singapore, Yilin, whose name when translated means ‘moving towards beautiful jade,’ remains true to her namesake and makes it her life’s work to share all about the beautiful, cultural heritage of jade through storytelling—and of course, her creations.
“I created the brand for so many reasons,” Yilin says. “On one hand, it is for our younger selves, and all our childhood friends that we grew up with. That instead of us emulating Angelina Jolie or Natalie Portman—icons of Western idealised beauty—it is equally wondrous to embrace our own identity and grow into our own versions of Asian women who are on a quest to accept all aspects of ourselves, which inevitably encompasses our histories and heritage. “At its heart, building this brand is to show all of us Asian women that we should be fiercely proud of who we are. That young Asian women all over the world will finally have a jewellery brand that speaks of their every emotionally significant moment— from births and weddings and anniversaries, to meaningful birthday gifts. A brand they can personally relate to.” For her creations, Yilin uses only Type A jadeite, a highly prized gem that is a completely natural type of jade which has not been subjected to any form of chemical treatment to enhance its colour. She also
works with talented artisans to create the stunning and intricate metalwork that you see on the bangles, pendants, earrings and rings in her collections. Aside from its beauty, the metalwork serves as a way to showcase our rich heritage—such as that of historic Southeast Asian shophouses, kebayas and Peranakan laces. Yilin couldn’t have put it better than this: “With Choo Yilin’s jade, there is this desire to recreate memories of our grandparents and our greatgrandparents but done in a way that also reflects my own experiences and values as a 21st century woman.” It may be called the Classics yet this collection is nothing but, and it’s the perfect way for a millennial to get started on building her treasury of jade jewellery. Launched this year, it features pared down minimalist designs where the jade itself tells a story. According to Yilin, no two pieces of jade is identical and with this new range, she aims to highlight the rich variation of jade—the different levels of translucency, the inclusions of clouds, veins and chromium flakes, which give each piece of jade a unique visual character. She assures, “The Classics collection is meant for everyday use.” Nevertheless, jade still holds true with special occasions and Yilin’s signature collections of Peranakan-inspired pieces and Cherry Blossoms happen to be very popular with brides and count among her best-selling pieces. Find her jewellery online, at chooyilin.com.
JADE FOR YOU Choo Yilin finds that the Cherry Blossom collection (top) tends to be popular with brides or people who wish to gift for special occasions
A TWIST FROM THE CLASSICS Clockwise from top left: Kebaya jade necklace and studs; Peranakan Lace bangle; Classic collection (Forest Vintage)