In conversation with Simone Ng, luxury jewellery designer
As a young girl, Simone Ng's parents had always encouraged her to take a traditional career path; seek a higher education, find a good establishment to start a career, and the like. The Malaysian-born Australian then went on to obtain Honours in Finance and an MBA, and subsequently worked with Citibank for two years. However, it is in jewellery and design that Simone's real passion lies. In 2005, the now 43-year old designer launched her first collection with 20 one-of-a-kind pieces and within 30 minutes, half of them were snapped up at an event. She named her brand Simone Jewels and the rest, like they say, is history.
Fast-forward to today, Simone Jewels is one of the top private jewellery brands amongst stylish women in Asia, Australia and the United States for its customised and ready-to-wear pieces. Using exotic gemstones as well as diamonds and rubies, every Simone Jewels piece is handmade and transformable to be worn in several ways, which remain as the brand's signature. Now based in Singapore, we caught up with Simone while she was in town recently.
Hi, Simone! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Where should I start? I would say I am very passionate about jewellery. I do it because I love it, not because I think it's a lucrative business to go into. Initially, it was a hobby. I honestly never expect for it to come so far and everything just fell into place. Time really does fly when you enjoy what you're doing. It has been almost 11 years!
How did you get started in the jewellery industry?
Even though my grandparents from both sides kind of were of in the jewellery business, I wouldn't have said that it has helped me with starting my business. It has exposed me to jewellery, of course, and maybe that's why I love jewellery. After getting married and having two children, my husband saw me spending a lot of time designing and making jewellery for myself. He encouraged me to turn my passion into a business, so I started designing one-of-a-kind pieces for friends and family. They loved it.
You mentioned that Simone Jewels is "one-of-a-kind." Do you mind elaborating on that?
Each jewellery that we produce in terms of design and colour is different from the other. That's how we create that exclusiveness; you can't see any similarities between them. Because of the way we run our business, we are able to also create these jewelleries at a very competitive price, and that makes it very attractive. For our customers, not only are our pieces unique but also affordable.
How would you describe your clientele?
They are confident woman who strive to be different. She is cultured, adventurous and knows what she wants.
How long does it take for you to design a piece of jewellery?
It varies; it could be one day or take as long as a few months. Usually, I would do a rough sketch and decide on the direction that I want to go for. Then I'll do something a little bit more detailed and I'll stare at it for a few days. After that, if I'm happy with it, then I'll put it in further details. If not, I'll start erasing and do it again. I would not proceed with it until I absolutely love it, and still love it after a few more days.
Can you walk us through the creative and design process?
The process is very fluid. If I see a beautiful stone and I feel that it has potential in terms of investment, I will get it first. Sometimes the stones stay in the studio for a few years because I just have not come across an inspiration that will justify the beauty of the stone. Other times, the designs come first and then I'll find the stones that will best go into the designs.
When designing jewellery, are you influenced by current fashion trends?
I always tell my friends and my customers that we don't follow trends. Every year, we have a different theme and it usually draws a certain story from actual history, which reflects in our designs. When we share the designs with our customers, they sometimes relate to it. Other times, it's a piece of history they have never heard of and they'd be eager to learn more. Our jewelleries become conversational and inspirational pieces.
Speaking of investment, you recently appeared on CNBC's SquawkBox. Why do you see jewellery as an investment asset alternative?
I feel that jewellery is a very good alternative investment asset because, firstly, you can wear them. They make good heirloom pieces and have no depreciation value. Lastly, It's portable and a great liquidable asset. I feel that there is no other investment asset that has all this combinations.
What's your favourite Simone Jewels design?
So many! If I had to choose, it'd definitely all my multifunctional pieces. These days, trends are constantly changing and you don't want to splurge on just a piece and be stuck with one look. So I designed some of my pieces to be transformable like the detachable necklace, 'Gatsby' or the 'Yin & Yang' earrings which are interchangeable to stackable rings . These pieces are perfect for vacations 'cos you just need to bring one item and you'll have several different looks.
What about your favourite stones?
We specialise in colours, so I especially love coloured stones. I look forward to sourcing good quality coloured stones because they are very, very rare, and to find the best within that category is also very hard. Many of the time, I'm tempted to keep everything to myself but I'm constantly being reminded that those are for the customers.
Do you have any advice on what women should look for when shopping for jewellery?
I would say somebody trustworthy who you can establish a long-term relationship with. You'll have to see whether he or she really understands your style because they are not only your jeweller but also your stylists. At Simone Jewels, it's important that we're able to relate to our customer's style, understand it and give the best advice to them.
What's next for Simone Jewels?
We definitely want to build the brand. I'm just going to take a run and see how far we can go with Simone Jewels. People have told me it takes a hundred years to build a brand but I am challenging myself to cut the process to a shorter time period. Let's see what happens!
Simone Jewels be showcasing its collection for the first time in early November 2016 in KL. Visit the brand's official website to shop exquisite jewellery or to contact them for an appointment.