The pieces at Simone Jewels represent poems, paintings and even history, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup
SCHOLARS have long wondered who and what William Shakespeare had meant when he wrote the allegorical poem The Phoenix and The Turtle — turtle in this case being the bird turtledove, not the reptile.
Some say it was Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I and her lover, who was executed for treason. Others believe that it doesn’t refer to anyone in particular.
Simone Jewels executive creative director Simone Ng says the poem represents love, where the mythical phoenix and adoring turtledove are bound in affection so intense that it made them eternally inseparable.
It’s also one of three poems that inspired Ng’s most recent collection called Birds in Poetry.
“It’s got nothing to do with the type of bird in the poem but because red is the colour of love, so we use a variety of red coloured gemstones such as rubies, red spinel, red Malaya garnets and hot pink sapphires,” says Ng, who is born in Malaysia but based in Singapore.
The second work of poetry that she uses is by John Keats.
“The Ode To The Nightingale was written when John was in misery as he’d just lost his loved ones. But he heard this nightingale sing and it lifted his spirit. He felt hope because he saw his life differently. The colour of hope is blue so we used stones such as blue sapphire, blue spinel and blue tanzanite.”
The third poem is To A Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Ng sees it as representing joy, and the jewellery pieces in the Joy collection are designed to depict this feeling using nature-inspired green gemstones such as emerald, chrome tourmaline and green garnet.
CHICKEN AND EGG
“Poetry is not easy to understand, especially classical poetry,” says Ng, who learnt poetry in the course of designing the collection.
“I studied the poems from someone and this person had an interpretation that was different from mine.”
Ng also made three intricate pendants in the shape of books to go with the poetry theme.
The Shakespeare Necklace has a heart-shaped tourmaline linked to a fishing pole while the centrepiece of the Nightingale Necklace is a blue Paraiba tourmaline with a bird perched on top of its cage. The Skylark Necklace has a mint green tourmaline and embellished with diamonds and spinel.
Ng explains that the idea of combining birds with the concept of Love, Hope and Joy came from a charity project that she was involved in. One of her clients was helping impoverished single mothers and their families in Myanmar, and was looking for contributions.
“Some of the children there never tasted eggs,” Ng says. “So the client asked if we wanted to donate eggs for her next visit. But I thought that was a temporary solution. So with help from the local church, we donated chickens to the families to rear for eggs.
“They can eat the eggs or sell it, or let it hatch to get more chickens. We started with five families and now we have 45. This is different from when we started where they were waiting for donations. We saw that the village was full of love, hope and joy.”
THE PRICE OF GEMS
Items from Simone Jewels are limited and unique, with only one piece made for each design. Some pieces are multifunctional, like a necklace that is detachable to create a different look or an earring that’s also a stacked ring.
Ng sees her jewellery as more than mere accessories, but as works of art and investment pieces that will not depreciate and can be passed down in families.
She particularly treasures the rare, high-quality coloured gemstones, which tend to be side-lined to clear diamonds in the jewellery industry.
These coloured stones give character and help carry the theme in each annual collection.
There’s the use of blue star sapphires for a piece inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting from 2015’s Romance du Art Nouveau collection and a rare golden tanzanite for Jewels of the Nile series in 2014.
While Simone Jewels pieces are limited, the story behind each collection is free for the taking.
Ng highlights the Parisian Chinois collection from 2012, saying, “It fuses French and Chinese design and is based on the friendship between China’s Emperor Kang Xi and King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century.”
While the two powerful rulers never met, Ng says they exchanged a lot of gifts.
The French king loved the blue and white Chinese porcelain and Chinese style and products became popular in France.
Meanwhile, learned French missionaries are well-received in the emperor’s court, helping the spread of Western art and science in China.