November 09, 2022

Interview with Expat Living SG

By Stephanie Wong
Interview with Expat Living SG

In the studio with Singapore jewellery metalsmith Stephanie

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Singapore jewellery designer

Even as a small child growing up in beautiful Mauritius I remember creating things with my hands. My mum hand-sewing clothes for our family of seven girls inspired me to pursue a career in garment design and manufacture. I moved here after marrying my lovely Singaporean husband and spent a few years attending Singapore jewellery workshops and honing foundation metalsmith skills. I even sold a few pieces of silver and gold jewellery on Etsy!

When an expat posting took us to the US, I was fortunate to study under Daniel Valencia, an accomplished goldsmith in Washington DC. I discovered a whole new amazing world as a traditional metalsmith using antique tools. It’s like working with a piece of history in hand, and I never looked back.

Was it hard to start up a business in silver and gold jewellery in Singapore?

I always knew deep down that I wanted to have my own business one day. I grew up helping in my parents’ retail shop selling clothing, costume jewellery, toys and gifts. My fondest memories are of buying trips to the costume jewellery wholesalers and decorating the shop window afterwards. It just felt like my natural next step to become a metalsmith and Singapore jewellery designer.

Stephanie Wong, metalsmith, at work in the studio

You’re passionate about expert workmanship in design. Tell us about your creative process.

It’s both comforting and satisfying to transform raw materials into a piece of jewellery that will be worn lovingly for a lifetime. I bring beauty to life one piece at a time. I practice traditional techniques of forging, fusing and soldering using basic tools such as dividers, hammers and saws. I create through experimentation, working with a range of forms, shapes and textures. I compare and contrast the elements until I arrive at a harmonious final product. This may sound exhausting but I find it exhilarating!

You specialise in fine silver and gold jewellery in Singapore. What other types of materials do you work with?

I only work with precious metals such as fine silver, sterling silver, and 14 and 18 carat gold. As other gold jewellers in Singapore will know, these materials are endlessly recyclable and can be moulded into any form. It’s fundamental to the nature of my craft that nothing is left to waste ­– every scrap of metal is reused. Even dust is salvaged! I firmly believe that you’ll only create an exquisite product if you start with quality material.

Sustainability and durability are my key product design considerations. I work closely with ethically empowered gemstone and diamond suppliers to support sustainable practices. All gemstones are natural and sourced mine-to-market where possible, and our diamonds are one hundred percent conflict-free. 

Every piece of your metalsmith jewellery is unique

Every necklace, ring, bracelet and pair of earrings is one-of-a-kind and handcrafted with love. Most clients enjoy browsing my designs online and buy direct from my website I take commissions that are aligned with my design philosophy and principles, according to a customer’s choice of gemstone and metal. I would never replicate a design out of respect for fellow artisans.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance as a busy mum of four?

I believe that if you have just the right amount of sleep, nutrition, leisure, exercise, work and prayer every day, then the rest will naturally follow. I begin my day at 6am with meditation and prayer and then I’ll be at work at my bench from 10am to 2pm. In the afternoons I try to get on top of business admin like updating my website and social media, photographing new creations, packing / shipping orders, and meeting customers. By 5.30pm I’m in my kitchen preparing dinner and catching up with my family on the happenings of the day.

Where do you find inspiration for your collections?

Living in Singapore, a ‘city in a garden’, I draw inspiration from the organic shapes of nature and urban architecture that surrounds me. Modernist designs and current fashion also manifest in the lines and graphics of my designs. I’m endlessly fascinated with the hues of natural gemstones and shifting colours of precious metals.

How do you want your clients to feel when wearing your pieces?

I like to think of my jewellery as ‘wearable art’ and strive for a simple, modern and chic aesthetic. Ideally I want women to feel comfortable and beautiful. I love it when I see clients wearing their chosen creations, instantly elevating their look. I hope my pieces become effortless staples in their closet, and heirlooms for the next generation.

Do you have any favourite pieces?

I made matching chunky chain bracelets for my daughters and myself and rarely take mine off. I also adore the textured oxidised sterling silver earrings with yellow diamonds from my Authentica collection.

Any advice for other creatives just starting out in Singapore jewellery design?

It may be a long winding journey but work hard to find your own personal style. In the words of Paulo Coelho:

Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

Stephanie Wong Jewellery

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