How Queen Victoria inspires young jewelers | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

CABOCHON ring encircled by white opals, by Kristine Dee PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN in gold; earrings of fine white opals encircled by diamonds and multicolored sapphires, in gold by Paul Syjuco
CABOCHON ring encircled by white opals, by Kristine Dee PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN in gold; earrings of fine white opals encircled by diamonds and multicolored sapphires, in gold by Paul Syjuco

One of the most powerful trendsetters in fashion is Queen Victoria, whose influence has lasted for generations. In her time,  Queen Victoria cast off superstitions surrounding opals by wearing them after a huge opal mine was uncovered in the British territory of Australia.

On the death of her husband, Prince Albert, she popularized jet, a matte fossilized wood,  as mourning jewelry.


Jeweler Paul Syjuco has always been fascinated with history and the impact of design paradigms  on jewelry. His interest in Victorian fashion was spurred by  clients who would bring their estate jewelry and heirloom pieces to him.


On Oct. 26 at Chef Jessie’s at Rockwell Club, Syjuco and designer Kristine Dee will hold a trunk show of their Victorian-inspired jewelry. Dee  studied at Pratt Institute, majoring in industrial design and metal smithing for jewelry. She met Syjuco in one of her jewelry exhibits and they have since collaborated in many jewelry presentations.


Not ‘out there’


A third-generation jeweler, Syjuco studied at the Gemological Institute of America. The family has been involved in all aspects of jewelry making, from sourcing to manufacturing.


“For this collection, the colors are softer—more pastels.  Romanticism comes to mind in terms of style. They are  heirloom pieces that could be passed on to the next generation,” says

CUFF of pink sapphires, pink and red spinels, and diamonds in yellow and white
gold by Kristine Dee



He draws influences from the Victorian era, such as carvings on stones, fleur-de-lis motifs, cameos, seed pearls, opals and the rose cut, a vintage diamond cutting style.


A rose-cut diamond or gemstone renders less shine than the modern brilliant-cut ones. Syjuco explains that jewelers in the 19th century didn’t have the technology for precise cutting. Rose cuts are polished by hand, using saw blades and scalpels.  The best stones are flatter and don’t have much height.


Still, Syjuco says the soft brilliance of rose-cut stones has its own allure. With its subtle light-diffusing properties, the rose-cut stone has an understated beauty.


Fascinated by skeleton keys of the Victorian age, Syjuco created key pendants with a black shaft to mimic a vintage look.




FLEUR-DE-LIS drop earrings with rose-cut diamonds and silver-white baroque South Sea pearl drops; drop earrings of cognac diamond pave with seed pearls and gold granulation; earrings of pink tourmaline carving, diamond pave and seed pearls by Paul Syjuco

On a tour of Europe, Dee took snapshots of church architectural details, such as grills, bas reliefs, friezes, arches and columns,  iron works and crests, and visited museums for inspiration.


Dee chose stones and metals that would last beyond a lifetime. “Things are better expressed in gold. These pieces will be treasured more and the designs are more personalized.”


In every collection, Dee has her delicately meshed cuff. This time, she has produced a cuff inspired by the lattice grills of a church, punctuated with red spinels, sapphires and diamonds.


She employs the rose-cut technique on such pieces as the pink and blue sapphire and diamond earrings. “They were called diamante cut back then,” she says.


Dee tweaks  pearl opera-length necklaces, accenting them with gold patterns inspired by cathedral mirrors, and  pink and blue sapphires. She gives a choker a different spin by adding cascading pearl strands to elongate the figure.


Dee’s training in industrial design bolsters her jewelry design.

“I’m very finicky about proportions. If I don’t get it right the first time, the jewelry is melted.”


MINT tourmaline ring and earrings, with pink spinels and diamonds in rose gold; ring of mandarin garnet with pink and red spinels and diamonds in yellow gold by Kristine Dee

The trunk show at Chef Jessie’s on Oct. 26  is in partnership with Machiavelli Chocolatier at Rustan’s. For details, contact 0917-8950816 or

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