Creative thinking is giving these powerhouses in the local jewellery scene an edge in changing the game—in this series, we speak to four women who embody that pioneering spirit.
Jewellery making has been in existence for thousands of years, but it is a field that is still ripe for modern disruption. Tanja Sadow would know: the industry veteran started out as a jewellery designer, jeweller and gemologist some four decades ago, and in 2007 she established the Jewellery Design & Management International School (JDMIS), where she teaches gemology, metalsmithing, jewellery design and more, while serving as the school’s dean.
In Singapore, JDMIS was an early adopter of powder metallurgy in jewellery making, a technique developed in the ’80s that cut down the labour and time needed to craft a metal item. This was followed by computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), which rose to dominance in the ’90s and offer superior accuracy and control of the respective processes. And now, using artificial intelligence (AI) in jewellery has entered the picture. “I think a lot of people accept that doing things on the computer today is just second nature,” Sadow says.
Seeing how AI can generate designs that are beyond human imagination but is ignorant of certain practical limitations, Sadow opines that the technology is only as good as a person wielding it, and if they are knowledgeable enough, they can make AI work for them. “I do foresee that AI is probably going to play a big part in what we do,” Sadow explains. “But I still feel that education is going to be very important for everybody. This is why it’s a passion I believe in: trying to help people to get the right information.”
Regardless of what up-to-the-minute technology is out there, one cannot stray far from time-tested, more analogue conventions and practices. For example, sketching out and communicating a design to a client has not lost its power or relevance, Sadow explains, while a jeweller who only knows how to design but lacks familiarity with manufacturing techniques may be limited. “In my opinion, one has to try a little bit of everything and fully understand what it takes to make that piece of jewellery. You learn how difficult certain techniques are, and how easy some would be,” she says. “A good jeweller today is well versed in every direction.”
PHOTOGRAPHY JAYA KHIDIR
ART DIRECTION GREGORY WOO
HAIR & MAKEUP SHA SHAMSI, USING CHANEL BEAUTY AND KEUNE
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT IVAN ISKANDAR PADRON YASSIN