Nature is the subject of the annual trunk show of fine jewelry designers Kristine Dee and Paul Syjuco.
Fascinated by natural wonders, Dee and Syjuco created exquisite pieces featuring animals, marine life, wings and even the human vertebra.
Syjuco, a third-generation jeweler, threads his collection with a tinge of whimsy. There are statement pieces such as a red baroque pearl necklace with fine strands of gold depict seaweeds, and saucers of intricately carved mother-of-pearl pendant earrings with sea urchin studs.
The geometry of the chain necklace contrasts with the organic shapes of the baroque and keishi pearls on the floral pendant. Fine gold chain tassels cascade from sapphire and amethyst studs.
The artisanal virtuosity is displayed in smaller pieces such as earrings. One marvels at the fastidious work in engraving and crafting minute details.
“The trend has been polished surfaces. We’re bringing in texture,” says Syjuco.
Tiny diamonds on a pavé or cobblestone setting line the threadlike golden snake earrings. Seed pearls pop up like thorns among the natural coral earrings.
The grains of the coral starfish studs complement the delicate frame of golden curlicues. Earrings resembling artichokes look delicious in tanzanite buds with diamonds.
The veiny textures of leaves and vines are replicated in the foliage gold earrings with peridot and yellow diamonds. Engraved wing earrings feature diamond-studded claws clutching South Sea pearl danglers.
An abstraction of the wheat sheaf is rendered on a yellow gold bangle with colored diamonds. Syjuco explains that it involved milgrain, a technique to create tiny beaded patterns to neatly define the bangle’s edges.
For ring lovers, Syjuco highlights the “newer” stones. The tender hues of the pink kunzite play against the blue sapphires and diamonds on a gold ring. Its band is painstakingly engraved to echo the grains of wood bark.
The transparency of the white opal is made more mysterious with its border of seed pearls that imitate thorns on a band of gold.
Beyond the story of each design lies the workmanship tradition of the Syjuco workshop. In the West, finding jewelers who do quality milgrain is rare. He is blessed with a seasoned workforce.
“We rely on skilled craftsmen who apply these traditional techniques. Some of them have been working for the family even before I was born,” says the 37-year-old Syjuco, who studied at the Gemological Institute of America.
The Pratt Institute-trained Dee’s collection, meanwhile, is feminine, highlighting the best stones for her clients.
She notes that the local market prefers the classic, feminine styles as opposed to strict linear modernity.
Abstract discs of the spinal column are playfully interpreted as ear danglers of moonstone and diamonds. Ditto the sapphire earrings shaped like molars. Another reference to the vertebra is the stack of gray South Sea peals with tourmaline studs.
Art Deco-like wings become earrings with pink spinel and green chrysoprase, Dee’s characteristic color combination. In fact, pink gemstones flourish in her earrings.
“It brings out the color in the cheeks. The jewelry is designed to beautify,” she explains.
The collection is also influenced by insects such as a caterpillar necklace of pearls. The patterned back of a dragonfly is a design inspiration for a pair of earrings, encrusted with diamonds and spinels.
Dee observes that women today favor longer strands of necklaces. Stackable jewelry is an offshoot of the trend in daintier proportions. Fine pieces are piled on top of each other or slim rings are slipped on each finger to make a bold statement.
Dee’s stackable bangles are composed of fine golden geometric shapes alternating with white sapphires.
One of the most elaborate designs is the multistranded garnet necklace. Each minuscule garnet bead is threaded by hand and fitted to conform to the wearer’s silhouette.
The necklace is highlighted by a cross of pink sapphires and red spinels above a teardrop pearl pendant.
Despite the innovations, the collections of both designers will feature classic pieces with a little tweaking to cater to those with conservative tastes.
Syjuco’s collar takes after a popular 1970s design of a loop of gold with knobs of brown diamonds and a contrasting baroque pearl.
Dee’s floral ring is a delicate mix of pink spinels and diamonds. She adds that clients still look for rose gold.
Dee explains the planning for a new collection takes almost a year. Although the designers want to introduce new ideas, they still keep the familiar to appeal to their clients.
The creative process requires developing the right design that is not only artistic but also cost-efficient. The handwork takes some three weeks to set the stones and engrave to perfection.
In the end, their imaginative designs and technical bravura guarantee their undying glitter.
“The Naturals” will be launched on Oct. 11, 2 p.m., at Chef Jessie, Rockwell Club. The pieces may be viewed afterward at Aum Jewels Trinoma and Peninsula Manila, and Firma Greenbelt 3. For details, call Kristine Dee (0917-8950816 ) and Paul Syjuco (0917-8404788).
PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN