Majulah Singapura

2020 has not been a kind year to Singapore, or to Foundation Jewellers as well, and it looks as though the rest of the year may continue to not be kind as well. So even as Singapore’s National Day looms closer on the horizon, one might choose to ask, what is there to celebrate? A short moment of light will do nothing in a valley of darkness.

Yet it is because something is fleeting and transient, that gives it a level of sentimental value and importance. That is why we find beauty in flowers, even though they may wither. That is why we find magnificence in fireworks, even though they may fade instantly. Of course, the opposite is true as well; what ultimate value is there in something that does not last?

The Peranakan Firework Flora Pendant then, is an amalgamation of those conflicting theses, mixed in with the wishes of our chief designer for his beloved homeland, Singapore. The Chinese word for firework is “烟花” (lit. smoke flowers). Our chief designer thus chose traditional Peranakan flowers such as the ixora and the rose for a motif, thus using the ephemeral flora to depict the fleeting fireworks in the sky.

Despite using these symbols of transient joy and impermanent beauty, the crux of his heart’s desire comes in using the materials from which the pendant is crafted: gold and diamonds. Diamonds are almost as old as the earth itself, while gold is said to be used in even heavenly realms by many religious texts. This marriage of contradictions, where the ephemeral is given substance by the eternal, betrays our chief designer’s wishes: that Singapore will continue to find and draw strength from these moments of joy and beauty, until the end of time itself.

Foundation Jewellers would like to wish Singapore and all our fellow Singaporeans a joyful and prosperous 55th National Day.

The Rival Regent

As the “King of Precious Stones,” the ruby has been venerated and admired since antiquity. With such high demand, many beautiful red gems throughout history have been set into jewellery used by royalty and the upper class. However, when the modern age of gem identification came, it was revealed that many of these supposed “rubies” were instead pretenders to the throne. Amongst the most famous of these usurpers is the rubellite, also known as pinkish red tourmaline, having been mistaken for rubies and set in the Russian crown jewels.

Rubellite, being a tourmaline, is softer than the ruby’s 9 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, coming in at a   still generous 7 to 7.5 with no cleavage. That means it is suitable for everyday wear, able to be set in most kinds of jewellery. This 125 carat rubellite however, was far too grand for our chief designer to set in anything except as a pendant.

However, for such a majestic gemstone, it was clear that a simple casing would not be enough. A regal jewel needed equally regal trappings to truly accentuate its beauty. Its journey into becoming a Peranakan jewellery piece would begin with a yellow gold bezel casing, with a circle of gold leaves to secure the large rubellite. This setting helps to enhance its colour as well as to hide any potential imperfections that would take away from its beauty. A yellow gold Peranakan enhancer with diamonds was added later to give the pendant additional form, and its flower and leaves motif almost giving it the image of a fancy crown upon its head.

This Peranakan rubellite pendant, when put together with this Peranakan princess-length floral necklace, can bloom in its full glory, truly befitting its historical position as a royal contender. Much like this rubellite gemstone, some of our loved ones would shine even brighter than they already do, just by giving them the appropriate accessory to wear. Is there anyone who you think would absolutely glow with this rubellite pendant? Send this to them and let them know that they are always in your thoughts!

The Fruit of the Vine

The mystery of the Peranakans lies in the odd mix of myriad influences in the Peranakans’ lives, especially from sources usually not expected of those living in South East Asia. As such, these influencing cultures on the Peranakans may share the same symbols but carry different meanings in their respective traditions. One such motif in the Peranakan tradition, as seen in these Peranakan ruby earrings, are grapes.

For the Peranakan Chinese, grapes symbolized longevity due to the word sounding the same as “peach” in Chinese, as peaches have long had the reputation of being the sustenance of immortals in Chinese mythology. However, if we also consider that many Peranakan Chinese were also English-educated and assimilated Christian beliefs, grapes also symbolized the redemptive blood of Christ and the abundant harvest.

Most Peranakan yellow gold jewellery historically made use of intan, or thinly cut slices of diamond. However, when it came to coloured stones, rubies were the preferred gemstone of choice. Thus, our chief designer chose to make use of these vibrantly coloured ruby cabochons to represent the grapes in these earrings, with brilliant cut diamonds to help accentuate the contours of the leaves on the grapevine.

The stark difference in size between the grapevine and the grapes is a reminder that while it is good to enjoy the fruits or the gifts that we have been given, it is more important to remember the giver. Is there someone who you want to honour or bless with a gift like this because of what they mean to you?

The Carp Leaps Over the Dragon Gate

All Peranakan jewellery carries a storied history; if not in its ownership or craftmanship, then definitely in its design. The interbreeding and mixing of cultures and races found in the Peranakan traditions resulted in an eclectic mix of influences in their jewellery. By examining the core motifs found in any piece of Peranakan jewellery, we can help unlock the traditions and thoughts of the Peranakans of years past.

One of the largest influences on the Peranakan culture was due to their Chinese forebears, and so it is no surprise that we find a Chinese motif on this contemporary Peranakan gold pendant-brooch: the carp or the koi fish. Fish motifs can even be found in traditional Peranakan waffle iron moulds for making love letters, and even in their bolsters. In Chinese, the word for “fish” is also a homophone with the word for “abundance,” which makes fish itself a symbol for wealth in Chinese culture.

The carp is generally the most depicted fish due to their longevity as well as their large scales which resemble the mythical dragon’s scales. There is even a Chinese saying that when a carp leaps over the Dragon’s Gate, it will become a dragon! When creating the Peranakan Carp ruby pendant-brooch, the designer had similar wishes for the person who would bear this brooch.

When crafting this pendant-brooch, our designer decided on the ruby to not only add colour to this item, but to also merge the symbolism between the carp and the ruby; for what is the point of abundance if it is not fortified by good health, protected by sufficient wisdom, and perhaps most important of all, made worth having in the first place because of love. In today’s climate of fear and worry, this is a blessing that Foundation Jewellers prays for all our friends to possess. Is there someone in mind who you feel could use such a blessing? Share it with them and be blessed yourself today!


July’s Birthstone: The Mighty Ruby

July’s birthstone is none other than the King of Gems, the precious ruby. Known as one of the most expensive gemstones in the world, the ruby has carried its regal air since antiquity. In Sanskrit, the ruby was first given its moniker Ratnanayaka, the “king of precious stones,” while the Indians once believed that by offering rubies as sacrifices to the gods, it would make them emperors in the next life.

The highest ranked officials of Qing Dynasty China wore ruby hat pins to signify their rank, but high rank is not the only characteristic of rubies. Medieval Europeans also believed its blood-like hue granted them health, wealth, wisdom and even love. While we may laugh at these notions, it is still common to see ruby jewellery be given today as a great token of love and affection!
Ancient Burmese even wore rubies into battle, believing that the crimson gemstone would make them invincible. While this would seem like a great waste, it probably made more sense to them as the earliest recorded ruby mines were found in Myanmar. Even today, the most valuable and most sought-after rubies are said to come from Myanmar. Rubies can also be found in many other places like Thailand, Vietnam, and even Mozambique, which produces rubies said to be on par with the famed Mogok deposits.

Such is the allure of the ruby throughout the ages, many stones that were once considered or thought to be rubies, turned out to be spinels (birthstones in their own right) or rubellite. Interested to know the difference? Every week this month, Foundation Jewellers will feature a piece of our Peranakan jewellery that highlights the ruby, tell you the story behind its craft, and additional information you wish you knew about the “King of Precious Stones”. Stay subscribed for more developments, and share this with those you know would be interested!