Family Heirlooms in the Making

So, after A Becky Lee and The Boobook announced their engagement, I wanted to get something really special for her as a wedding gift.

My family had recently received some treasured possessions from our late Grandfather’s estate (the Aged P’s dad), which included some jade pieces that belonged to our late Grandmother who died when I was a very small girl. The minute I saw the jade pieces, which included a pair of jade doughnuts, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them – bring them to Choo Yilin.

Now, I have been a closet fan of Choo Yilin for years, ever since I stumbled across her website years back, when J was born. At the time, she had a small site on Etsy, but I was really impressed with her commitment to sustainable luxury and the way she used her designs to communicate important social, environmental and cultural messages.

Many times over the years, I saw Choo Yilin’s jewelry brand pop up in various collaborations with environmental-awareness groups such as World Wildlife Fund and non-profit charities such as UNIFEM. I was impressed by the efforts that she made in sourcing for fair-trade jade and precious stones, going through great lengths to ensure that the supply chain is conflict-free. Additionally, I liked the fact that she worked directly with hilltribe artisans from Thailand who crafted her designs, finding ways to support and redevelop their community.

So, I booked an appointment for myself and A Becky Lee, and we headed down to Joo Chiat, where her shophouse is located.


There’s nothing like Tea and Some Pretties

We were met by one of Choo Yilin’s in-house designers, Samantha, who chatted with us over a cup of tea, inspecting the jade pieces that we brought and showing us a variety of designs and options, each more beautiful than the last.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Grandma’s jade doughnuts were both type A jadeite, completely pure and untreated, which was evident in the level of translucency each piece displayed. Apparently, it is common to find jade pieces that have been artificially enhanced with colour treatments and polymer injections.


Some of the gorgeous ready-to-wear designs available in store mixed in with Grandma’s jade doughnuts

In the end, A Becky Lee and I decided on turning the jade doughnuts into matching necklaces using one of Choo Yilin’s existing Peranakan-inspired designs, a cherry blossom branch studded with semi-precious gems.

We chose different combinations of gemstones, depending on their particular significance to us, then selected the colour of the metal that we wanted to use. Samantha told us that we could also choose the shade of each gemstone if we wanted – however, as both of us are terrible with colours, we chose to leave that part up to her expert eye.

It would take a few months for the necklaces to be completed – and I can hardly wait to see the result!

Thumper sleeping through the entire process

Samantha’s copious notes on our jade doughnuts, and a sample of the design we chose. Please note Thumper sleeping through the entire bespoke jewellery-making process!

Now the process of bespoke jewellery-making is pretty costly, but it was worth it for myself to make something truly meaningful to commemorate our sisterly bond on the occasion of A Becky Lee’s wedding. I really do hope that our necklaces will be worn often and remind us of our heritage and family.

One day, I hope to be able to take Grandma’s broken red jade bangle do something special with it…but first I will have to save up my pennies for another trip to Choo Yilin!


11 thoughts on “Family Heirlooms in the Making

  1. I did not know that we can craft or re-craft our jewelry, a pity my family do not have any Family heirloom. Perhaps there might come a time when I (or Mrs) can leave something for the next (next) generation 🙂

    cheers, Andy

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