Edge of Ember jewellery (left to right): Dylan and Suryn earrings
Sustainability is a hot topic in the jewellery world – most recently US based Maiyet has been making headlines with its chic jewellery made by artisans from different developing countries. It seems that the trend is catching on here in Asia, as more jewellery brands focus on using sustainable materials while employing local craftsmen to give back to the community. Finally fashion has a conscience!
Our latest find is Hong Kong based Edge of Ember, established by ex-trader Lynette Ong earlier this year. The brand features versatile yet modern jewellery that is made by local artisans in Asia. Her current collection, Sarat, immediately caught my attention with its organic hand-hammered metals, bold geometric studs and ethnic-inspired tassels.
We spoke with Lynette to find out more about the worthy cause behind her jewels…
Pieces from the Sarat collection (left to right) Essex ring and Chamelli bangle
What inspired you to launch Edge of Ember?
The idea came to me two years ago when I was in Ubud, Bali. I visited silversmiths and art workshops where customers could watch the artisans at work. I remember thinking to myself that these were gorgeous works of art that would be so well received anywhere else.
I wanted to create a tangible product and somehow give back to the global community. It was important to me that it also carried a socially responsible message. Unfortunately in the current market, everything tends to be done cheaply and efficiently, thus producers often disregard the welfare and development of those who work for them. And in the wake of mass production, traditional craftsmanship is also often thrown out the window. It would have been easier and cheaper to simply have my designs made in a China factory but I didn’t want that.
How would you describe your jewellery?
Edgy combined with a touch of femininity. It’s about bold pieces that retain versatility for every occasion. Each collection is themed, so for our first collection we feature geometric shapes and spikes paired with black and white crystal colors. Our next collection Aarati (launching in September) will have a slightly softer feel, with more curved lines and colours including blue lapis lazuli.
How do you balance the artisans’ techniques with your designs?
The artisans have a pretty solid set of skills, so translating my brass-based designs from paper to reality was not an issue. The occasional limiting factor is the materials, like stones and crystals that are available in their countries, or working with resin/enamel. Also every piece is handcrafted, so certain designs that would realistically require sophisticated machines (like thick chains, or laser cut patterns) are not possible. I start off with the understanding of these limitations and then designing the pieces, and so far it has worked out.
What about materials?
We use brass as a base metal for all our pieces. I wanted to keep the collection in a more affordable price range because of our social message. They are all plated in gold, silver, rose gold or gunmetal inHong Kong, so as to control the consistency and quality.
Currently certain pieces from the collection showcase an up-cycling of materials, such as the studs and spikes from recycled brass bombshells inCambodiaand discarded buffalo horn inVietnamwhich are made into buffalo horn bangles. I hope to, wherever feasible, continue to employ this concept in more jewelry pieces going forward.
What are your favorite pieces?
I love the Dylan earrings and wear them almost everyday. The Blair necklace and Chelsea (both rose and gold) are also very versatile pieces that I love.
How to you see the brand growing?
I want Edge of Ember to grow and be as big as TOMS. We want to be an established global fashion brand while keeping true to our ethical and philanthropic roots. Through our story and projects, I would like to raise awareness of local artisan craftsmanship and the plight of disadvantaged groups that we support. I hope to contribute and make a larger difference in the lives of individuals we impact.
Prices range US$55 to US$175, with 10% of all proceeds going directly to local charity projects that focus on women and children. Edge of Ember is available at Alexa & Todd and The 9th Muse in Hong Kong, or order online on www.edgeofember.com.