Versatility and Inclusivity – An Interview with Simone Ng

Singapore-based jewellery brand, Simone Jewels, has mastered the art of storytelling through design, where pieces transcend mere adornment to become a profound expression of culture…

By Ashie Luke 

Singapore-based jewellery brand, Simone Jewels, has mastered the art of storytelling through design, where pieces transcend mere adornment to become a profound expression of culture and history. Simone Jewels’ dedication to working captivating narratives into exquisite pieces of fine jewellery is at the forefront of the brand’s ethos. Founder, Simone Ng, redefines the boundaries of jewellery design, establishing a legacy that breaks down barriers and subverts expectations. We spoke to Simone about Tattoo, her milestone genderless jewellery collection now making waves globally.

JW: What inspired you to create the high jewellery collection Tattoo, and what drove your decision to create androgynous designs?

SN: The inspiration for my collection, Tattoo, stemmed from my experience with a surgery scar. This scar became the muse behind my desire to explore the art of tattooing, and its capacity to comfort, empower, conceal, and transform. I was interested in the symbolic nature of these inked designs and their ability to express individuality, akin to how jewellery does. Tattoo is a body art loved by all genders. With both men and women in mind, I aimed to create designs that my clients can share with their loved ones, celebrating the moment not only for families with daughters only but also with sons. This inclusivity and versatility are also inherent in tattoo culture.

JW: Can you share some insights into the design process behind the Tattoo Collection? What were some of the challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

SN: Our collection centres around four key themes: beauty, love, life, and courage. drawing inspiration from the artistry of tattooists, who adeptly capture these sentiments through powerful motifs, such as hearts and roses symbolising love, or swords and anchors representing courage, we carefully selected the most relatable symbols for each theme. Determining the motifs and putting together the inspiration that resonates deeply with people took considerable time and research, but the final selection seamlessly came together. 

JW: In an industry largely rooted in tradition, what drove you to take bold steps and venture into androgynous design? Did you anticipate the interest and positive reception it would generate?

SN: I was inspired by the history of Tattoos, and my curiosity drove me to want to learn more. I realised that the tattoo [motifs] are attractive to both genders. Moreover, creating gender-neutral, high jewellery has been an aspiration of mine, given the emerging trend of genderless designs. I noticed a significant gap in the market when it comes to androgynous high jewellery offerings. However, I had been awaiting the perfect opportunity and timing to pursue this venture. The inception of the Tattoo Collection presented itself as an ideal moment to bring this vision to life. I kept an open mind and heart when I decided to launch this collection, and I was very grateful to witness the appreciation from my clientele, across the gender spectrum. Seeing them loving and sharing the pieces with their partners and loved ones was gratifying. And it’s what inspires me to keep doing what I do. 

JW: What message do you hope to convey through the Tattoo Collection? Do you view the collection as a challenge of the societal norms and expectations surrounding jewellery and gender?

SN: I believe jewellery should transcend traditional gender design boundaries between females and males, and embody a sense of inclusivity, much like fashion. With this in mind, I hope everyone can appreciate the Tattoo Collection. For instance, the butterfly motif, often associated with feminine beauty, also carries the profound symbolism of rebirth and life — a concept that transcends gender categorisation. I hope this collection expresses the wearer’s unique personality, like a tattoo. By embracing this ethos, I aim to foster a connection between the jewellery and its wearer that surpasses societal expectations and allows self-expression to flourish.

JW: Can you speak on some techniques employed in creating the pieces for the Tattoo Collection? Were there any unique or innovative approaches used to bring your vision to life?

SN: Various techniques were skillfully employed to bring my vision to life. Drawing inspiration from the art of tattooing, we adapted techniques like engraving and embossing, infusing them into this collection. Additionally, artistic crafts such as enamelling and intaglio were meticulously incorporated to bring these exquisite creations to life. Some of the pieces can be worn multiple ways, and others with hidden compartments.

JW: What other materials did you use in the collection, and how did you select them? 

SN: This collection showcases a rich mixture of different gold with coloured gemstones carefully chosen to capture the captivating colours found in tattoos. Furthermore, a prominent feature of this collection is our transformable jewels, a cherished hallmark of Simone Jewels. I want these adaptable pieces to offer the wearer versatility and symbolise the ever-evolving nature of tattoo art, which has undergone remarkable transformations throughout history.

JW: Did you encounter any specific cultural or historical influences while developing the Tattoo Collection? How did these influences shape the story behind the collection and its final designs?

SN: I’m a huge history buff. Over the past 17 years, I have expressed my love for storytelling of historical events and literature through jewellery. I remember spending months researching and going through the history and origin of tattoos, which left me astounded and affirming my commitment to creating the Tattoo Collection. Recognising that tattoos symbolise significant milestones, celebrations, and even protective amulets, I became captivated by their transformative power. It was remarkable to witness how this once stigmatised form of body art can turn physical and emotional scars into objects of beauty. I was profoundly drawn to the parallel between tattoos and jewellery.

JW: How has the response been from both the jewellery industry and the consumer since the launch of Tattoo? Have you noticed any shifts or changes in perception regarding jewellery as a result?

SN: Initially, my team and others were sceptical about my vision for the Tattoo Collection. However, the response following its launch has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Those who previously doubted the compatibility of rebelliousness and high jewellery were left amazed by how something so rebellious could be linked to high jewellery. To my surprise, even customers who typically favoured feminine and dainty pieces expressed genuine admiration for and purchased items from the collection. They found the gender-neutral designs incredibly stylish and felt classily rebellious when wearing them. Witnessing this unexpected embrace reaffirmed the collection’s impact and solidified its unique appeal.

JW: What role does Tattoo play in the larger conversation around gender inclusivity and self-expression? Can you see it influencing future trends in design within the jewellery industry?

SN: I’m hoping for this collection to celebrate individuals and express themselves authentically through jewellery choices. We don’t often see genderless high jewellery in the industry, so the Tattoo Collection has much more potential to grow. I foresee a growing recognition and appreciation for gender-neutral designs as more individuals embrace the freedom of self-expression.

JW: Can you provide any hints or insights into what we can expect from your upcoming projects?

SN: We are working on a collaboration capsule collection, which fills me with great anticipation. More info [coming] soon…

As the TattooCollection resonates with individuals seeking self-expression and authenticity, Simone Jewels envisions a future where genderless high jewellery becomes increasingly recognised and appreciated. The brand’s commitment to celebrating individuality through jewellery choices helps to pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse landscape in the industry.

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