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March 26, 2021 5 min read

Past to Present: A Brief Journey

Jewelry making has grown in complexity since the beginning of civilization. The earliest pieces were made of natural materials like shells, stones and animal bones, simply strung or fashioned into intricate decorative ‘clothes’ with skin and feathers. Following that, the Egyptians wore colorful gems, glass and gold as a display of wealth, while the Greeks expanded on metalwork and were heavily influenced by the realistic detailing of sculpture art.

Possibilities burgeoned with the discovery of minerals and every body part provided a canvas for accessories, from crowns, hairpins, rings for facial piercings and brooches, to thigh bracelets and anklets. In comparison, modern everyday wear now typically revolves around necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, and restraint is exercised depending on the occasion and environment. (‘Less is more’, ‘Just one statement piece’, etc.) Jewelry made by hand today carries on the legacy of past techniques and the sense of pride in skilled artistry. There is much to learn from and be inspired by history, both technically and aesthetically.

The purpose of bodily ornaments has evolved from showcasing nobility, religious artifacts and beauty symbolism to become more accessible to people from different backgrounds to simply wear and enjoy on a daily basis. Modern jewelry crafted by hand can be inspired by evolving culture, preserve heritage, convey interesting and exciting design philosophies or even be a vehicle for social commentary.

The EDEN + ELIE Process

  1. Let inspiration lead you

    The beginnings of a new handmade design or collection starts from simply being inspired, wanting to honor a particular technique, meeting a need or being driven to convey a specific message. Inspiration can be deeply personal, stemming from memories and emotions, or nurtured by procuring beautiful materials and elevating them through thoughtful design. This separates high quality, small batch handcrafted pieces from many other mass-produced articles – they are intentional, never superfluous. This intention forms the heart of the design.

    EDEN + ELIE Modern Peranakan Capsule Necklace and Bangle in delicate Cherry Blossom

    Our Modern Peranakan Collection is a celebration of the love of making deeply ingrained in Peranakan culture and we hope that it can help younger generations appreciate tradition in a fresh yet timeless way.

  2. Pursue the best possible ‘perfection’

    Now, we refine the idea. This is the prototyping stage – countless drafts are created and patterns are redrawn over and over, all in the journey towards achieving the perfect fit, feel and look.

    The new pattern also has to take our artisans into account as we employ adults with autism to hand weave most of our pieces. They excel in highly-focused, detail-oriented work, and vary in their propensity and comfort with sewing certain patterns. Each piece is a testament to their strength and a reflection of their pride. We make many considerations when introducing new patterns as change tends to be disruptive, and have to test the making of a new piece to ensure it is within their scope of abilities while pushing the boundaries of skill and intricacy. 

    Customer comfort is another key point. The jewelry has to sit well on the body – earrings are to be light for wearing all day (you won’t even notice you have these handmade studs on), while bracelets are open to customization for the best fit.

    Model wears EDEN + ELIE Vintage Sparkle Stud Earrings

  3. No shortcuts

    Once the collection is finalized, we individually hand make each order. A single weave demands ultimate patience as the tiny beads are picked by hand for uniformity and color, and then meticulously sewn with needle and thread. The pattern is plated onto the jewelry base and secured, before being cleaned and packaged with care. At each stage, quality checks are done to ensure not a single element falls short of standards.

  4. Be open to change – for the better

    As time passes, we innovate and have more access to better materials, in terms of quality and ethical production. It is important for our products to reflect this growth and thoughtfulness. After months of experimenting and sourcing, our bestselling Medallion Drop Earrings were refreshed with a new premium 22k gold plating, with a much more robust thickness for extra durability and a smoother, cleaner gold hue. We also re-designed the bezel’s edge to be squared, creating a more modern and luxurious look.

    EDEN + ELIE Striped Medallion Earrings in Orchid

Why Handcrafted Matters

There is something irreplaceable about the slow, deliberate and intimate act of making something beautiful with your hands. Taking the time to apply care and skill to every touch as it all comes together into a tangible form. The bond between maker and product, marked by the toiling and time poured into a piece, breathes soul and meaning into handmade jewelry – something that the artificial perfection of machines cannot replicate.

There is also a spirit of community embedded into these pieces. We feel connected over shared labour and experiences, no matter how different our characters and circumstances are. We become better experts by crafting together, supporting each other, overcoming struggles as a group and nurturing new ideas from many minds and not just one in isolation.

As our world modernises, spaces become segregated. The buildings are beautiful but cold. We see more and more people, yet know less. Naturally, we yearn for more meaningful relationships, and for work that puts us in touch with the essence of being human and feeling alive. The pursuit of creativity, freedom and purpose is a compelling mission – and these qualities are very much thriving in the community of making.

A canvas for your story: Customized jewelry

A piece of handcrafted jewelry is perfect to mark a special occasion or chapter in your life and we offer elegant, easy options for adding that element of ‘you’ to our handcrafted pieces.

Customize your own necklace and curate a unique bead collection with our Necklace Bar

One of our customers celebrates personal milestones with different colored beads from our Necklace Bar. She is looking to own Sand, with its golden matte sheen, for a future potential move to the desert. Another customer picked a myriad of gemstone-like shades from Plum to Serenity blue to represent her children.

I can imagine myself customizing a necklace with a single artisan-made Emerald Gold Dots bead for happier days spent under the humid shade of a forest, sun seeping through the foliage like liquid gold. For everyday flair, set it all on an adjustable length chain – our unique necklace mechanism for wearing the same necklace at any length from 16 to 30 inches.

Handcrafted jewelry becomes even more precious when it is purchased with intention, it carries love when gifted or passed down as a heirloom, and steadily holds memories for a lifetime. Which will you bring home to celebrate your story?

Seraphina Leong

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