Her brand may have become synonymous with vivid, candy-colored gemstones, but Tim Tam Ong is set to surprise admirers of her jewelry designs with a new collection using dipped gold and silver recyclable wires and pearls, a socially conscious effort inspired by the streets of Manila.
“There are studies that the Philippines could become unlivable in four years, and I felt like it’s my responsibility as a designer to do my part for the environment by using materials that don’t add to the detriment of the environment,” said the Gemological Institute of America-certified jeweler, whose full name is Ma. Maureen Camelle Mendoza Ong.
Ong previewed her collection, “Existence,” at Manila FAME last month. It included sculpted evening purses made of recycled acacia wood, lacquered with black automotive paint. The bags were adorned with the same intertwined wires and pearls used in her necklaces and bangles.
“Existence” is quite a contrast to her previous collection called “Splendor,” which consisted of sumptuous multicolored stones sourced here and abroad: peridot, tourmaline, ruby, sapphire, emerald, garnet, topaz, jade, amethyst, the whole gemstone caboodle.
“We also chose to go this way because it’s primarily for the export market, and this collection is easier to reproduce,” she explained of “Existence.” (Owing to the gemstones, the “Splendor” pieces are one-off.)
Ong, who has a team of 25 workers, said she had a fun experience using wires since intertwining them felt organic. Every piece is handmade.
The young mom of two studied interior design and was set to follow in the footsteps of her mom, Cezette Mendoza, an interior and furniture designer who has her own showroom at LRI Design Plaza in Makati, next door to Ong’s. But a chance gift of jade from Burma and other excavated beads given by her husband led her to other creative paths.
“I’ve always been entrepreneurial, even when I was still a student, and I liked to do things with my hands,” said Ong.
Like most jewelry designers who work with gemstones, the design begins around the gems, not a sketch, she said.
Ong exports to New York, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, and is looking to show her pieces in other trade shows abroad.
To view Tim Tam Ong’s collection, visit Unit 122, LRI Design Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air II, Makati; or e-mail [email protected].