SINGAPORE (Oct 8): A mid-career leap of faith sparked Angela Loh’s fascination with gems and fine jewellery. Following a long career in advertising and a year as brand manager at Asia Pacific Breweries, Loh became marketing manager at Lee Hwa Jewellery, where she witnessed one of the company’s millennial-focused jewellery lines come to fruition, from conceptualisation through to product delivery.
“[Working at Lee Hwa] was my first adventure in the jewellery industry, where I actually got to witness the process of design and creation. The whole journey was wonderful, and I think that sparked off something that never ended,” she recalls.
While she only stayed with Lee Hwa for a year, the experience left such an indelible impression on her that she immediately went on to create JewelFest as its festival director at the invitation of the Singapore Tourism Board. The first edition took place with just five local jewellers in 2003, and grew to feature nearly 60 retailers and designers from 15 countries in the 14th edition in 2016, which marked the jewellery exhibition’s final bow.
Even after running JewelFest for 14 years, Loh did not take a breather. The following year in October, she launched JeweLuxe Singapore, a 10-day exhibition of fine jewellery, art and timepieces, at Ngee Ann City. Her company, JeweLuxe International, was founded in partnership with Nelson Lee. Lee is an entrepreneur who co-owns a digital creative agency called Section. He now runs JeweLuxe International alongside Loh as its chief marketing officer. The two have also launched JeweLuxe World (www.jeweluxeworld.com), an e-commerce retail platform that is an extension of the event.
The inaugural event attracted 13,000 visitors and rang up over US$6 million ($8.2 million) in sales. Loh, JeweLuxe International’s CEO, and Lee are confident of even greater success at this year’s edition, to be held on Oct 12 to 21 at Tent@Ngee Ann City. It will bring together 70 jewellery houses, brands and designers as well as independent watch and clock makers to present works valued collectively at $100 million. Items will retail from as low as $500.
As with last year, JeweLuxe Singapore 2018 will have two editions — one that highlights rare gems and signature designs from around the world, and another that focuses on the artistry and craft of jewellery, watches and clocks from across Europe and Asia. “This year, we have increased our content to include ‘Japanese Virtusos’, a fleet of six designers from Japan, and also ‘Audacious Asia’, where we are a bit more adventurous, with a focus on female designers. Singapore has a great presence this year, ranging from established top-end designers to new and emerging ones that we have recently discovered,” says Loh of the expanded line-up of categories this year.
JeweLuxe Singapore 2018 will, to a larger extent, see the participation of local fine jewellery labels such as State Property, Caratell and Simone Jewels alongside internationally acclaimed designers such as Buccellati, Bayco and Birks. Among Lee’s personal favourites is Maison Tjoeng, a Singapore-based label launched in 2016 by Yasmin Tjoeng, whose collection draws inspiration from her multicultural upbringing and Pan-Asian roots.
“[Yasmin] has such dynamism. It is a very new brand and she is so young, but her works have shown so much potential to become an iconic brand presence. There is a [Maison Tjoeng] necklace that I own and whenever I wear it, people can instantly recognise that it’s from that brand. This is why I feel so much pride in these independent designers who are able to create iconic designs that are memorable,” Loh says.
An auction of the Vestige Series, a collection of art and jewellery pieces inspired by Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, will also be held at JeweLuxe Singapore, with the proceeds to be donated to the museum. Highlight pieces that have been designed exclusively for the event include a pair of golden chopsticks by Paolo Costagli New York and a butterfly brooch by Singapore-based Indian jeweller, Jaipore.
During our interview at the JeweLuxe International office on Alexandra Road, Loh is wearing several statement items purchased from prominent designers at JeweLuxe Singapore. Among the most noticeable is a pair of earrings in Paolo Costagli’s signature cubic motif, as well as a dragon ring designed by Lotus Arts De Vivre. Loh estimates she has spent a six-figure sum on her personal jewellery collection, which started with a 0.2ct diamond solitaire when she was just 16. Since then, she has gone through several phases of collecting pieces of all kinds, from semi-precious stones to tennis bracelets and jade.
“I still love the feeling of diamonds against my skin. But how the diamonds are applied — that’s something I now want to pursue,” says Loh when asked whether she has “outgrown” her love for classic gemstones considering her exposure to the many alternatives. The beauty of jewellery, she elaborates, is that these pieces can always be redesigned by the owner’s designer of choice upon consultation. This is among the many services offered by the JeweLuxe Concierge both on JeweLuxe’s e-commerce platform, and at the event. Loh herself will be present to provide jewellery styling and redesigning consultation at the event this year.
“As one matures, you come to know yourself much better; your personality and sense of style is much stronger and more defined. That is when you want to hone in on a particular look… I believe that in this lifetime, we have to present ourselves as who we are and not be afraid to do so.”
This article appeared in Issue 851 (Oct 8) of The Edge Singapore.