By Tay Kunming
With a myriad of courses available out there in the marketplace, selecting a course that’s both financially rewarding and beneficial to the local arts and culture scene can be a challenge. Why not learn jewellery design?
As a jewellery designer and craftsman, I’ve noticed that there’s one type of people who are willing to spend on gemstones: the ultra-wealthy foreigners, including the Chinese and Burmese, whose population exceeds one billion and 55 million, respectively. And with more than one million Chinese with assets worth over $1.5 million, the number of rich Chinese is increasing rapidly, according to China Business Review’s report ‘Understanding Chinese Consumers’.
Furthermore, Singapore’s positioning as a world-class tourist hub helps to boost tourist spending, hence learning and practicing jewellery design is ideal.
This year, I was invited to be part of the judging panel for The Singapore Jewellery Design Awards. Looking at the certificate of appreciation that was awarded to me by the design council, I am reminded that as a craftsman, I have to do my part to create more opportunities for the next generation, so they’ll have the right exposure. And as I was speaking to a group of 17 students from Raffles Design Institute the museum partnered to launch an up and coming project titled ‘Gems for Generation’ on 10 November, I am certain that I ought to do more to create a conducive environment for learning and sharing for our next generation.
But for now, here are a handful of practical tips I have to guide jewellery designers and aspiring jewellery designers.
- Build good relationships with your craftsmen. Without skilled workmanship, your impressive design is nothing; it’d would be very difficult to create a good design – unless you are able to design and craft gems.
- Cultivate your presentation skills. As a jewellery designer, you will need good presentation skills and great ideas so you can sell them to your clients. Unlike a classroom setting where you are required to stand in front of your class to present your concept, you are likely to be sitting next to a prospective buyer, surrounded by gemstones and, possibly, coffee, explaining your design while selecting stones to place on his/her hand. Again, without these skills, your gemstones will be left sitting on your shelves collecting dust.
- Open your mind to greater opportunities. In my personal opinion, Singapore is a relatively small market, so don’t be discouraged if your designs are not appreciated by your own people. Instead, open yourself to global opportunities. For instance, selling your designs to the Burmese. With a burgeoning 55 million population, it isn’t hard to find a window of opportunity. Start by researching on a market that you think (and know) will appreciate your works and find all means and ways to penetrate.