Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and while that is definitely applicable to Cherrie Chin, she takes it to another level by not discriminating. She appreciates and collects a myriad of other gemstones from the popular rubies, sapphires and emeralds to the more exotic sphalerites, Paraiba tourmalines and beryls as well as everything in between.
“I find them very beautiful,” she says when asked about what instilled her love for them. "The colours, hues and shine are so unique and no two stones are ever identical."
So deep is her love for them that she has taken it upon herself to enroll in the Gubelin Academy for Coloured Gem Professional to learn more, where she recently completed the second level of the certification.
“Studying the stones has further heightened my interest in them; I now understand how they were formed and the very harsh journey they went through that amounts to millions of years. Their mining, making and polishing require so much effort. They’re more than just pretty jewellery pieces, but are each a very precious gem,” she regales.
A twinkling eye
Her interest in them started young, as young as when she was a mere child of 5-6 years old.
“I remember prying out the colourful beads of my mum’s antique clutches because they were colourful and shiny," she shares. "It drove her crazy but anything colourful and shiny caught my eyes even back then.”
Her eye for them matured along with her.
“My first fine jewellery piece is a pair of blue topaz earrings from Poh Kong which I got with my first paycheck,” she recalls fondly. “Following that, my best friend graduated from a course in gemology and started helping me to source and identify loose gem stones. Getting to know more jewelers through my friends also deepened my interest and my collection just burgeoned after that.”
Of the many different stones available out there, she names emeralds and pearls as her favourites.
"Of the three colour majors (rubies, sapphires and emeralds) I like emeralds the most because I like its green -- it reminds me of nature," she tell. "Plus every piece has its own jardin (that's the inclusion we call garden) which makes it unique."
Pearls also have a special spot in her jewellery box because they're her birth stone.
Collector, Investor, Designer
While she names Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Harry Winston as some of her favourite jewellery houses, she also designs her own pieces with loose stones she sources from all over the world. “I love the Art Deco and antique design. I have many books from which I get my inspiration and sometimes I look at them just to marvel at the many intricate designs.”
Her pieces and stones in her collection ranges far and wide given that she collects them out of interest as well as for investment but she doesn’t just buy on a whim. The gems have to meet her criteria before making it into her collection.
“I now only look for gems that I don’t already have because I do have quite a lot,” she admits. “My aim is to collect as many different types as possible.”
“But I also look for quality of course,” she adds. “If I come across a good quality stone at a reasonable price, I’ll still buy it for investment even if it’s something I already have.”
Her latest branch of interest in the world of jewellery is that of diffuser jewellery, little precious trinkets that also diffuse essential oils to help calm the senses of the wearer that are all the rage in Hong Kong right now. She is the proud stockist of the Dearest Grace brand of diffuser jewellery in Malaysia.
“I collect jewellery for a lot of reasons but mainly because I really like them,” she says. “I enjoy collecting them and in my free time, my greatest pleasure is to take them out, polish them and examine them again.”
She prefers to indulge in that past time with her group of like-minded collector friends so they can break into discussion and learn more from one another. “I also like imagining my girls inheriting them as precious heirlooms from me in the future.”
Here, she indulges us with an exclusive peek into some of her favourite pieces from her collection.
"This set is made from Paraiba tourmalines, the gem stone that took the gem industry by storm! One cannot regard oneself as a collector if one does not own a piece of this electric blue beauty. They are priced by the carat, which makes them more expensive than diamonds. I was lucky to have a trusted jeweller friend who was able to source these for me from Brazil and I had them set according to my preferred design."
"This diamond earrings and ring set from TSL Hong Kong is very special to me because it is my first jewellery gift set to my mum for her birthday. I planned it with the store manager to gift it to her by manner of surprise and she cried when she received it. Before she passed away, she insisted that I have it back so it's got a lot of sentimental ties for me. "
"These Mexican Fire Opal frog earrings are my latest prized possession, as it is a gift from my husband for my most recent birthday. It is set in my favourite Art Deco design with a tsavorite body, ruby eyes and different sapphires dangling off the legs as eggs. Fire Opals are the symbol of fervent love so I love this pair of lover frogs not only because it is extremely rare, but also because it is a symbol of our love and our growing family."
"These earrings from Art de Vivre always draw conversation every time I wear them! The beetle brooch by French jeweller Jean Francois Fichot is made from real scarab beetle shell, the same ones once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, and set with rose-cut diamonds. The earrings are set with South Sea pearls, rose-cut diamonds and black wood beads."
"This pair of fiery stones with amazing dispersion are called sphalerites. Its dispersion is 3 times higher than that of diamonds! When I first sent the loose stones to my jeweller for setting, the craftsman thought they were fake because they are so uncommon. It was probably their first time encountering sphalerites so they had to send them to the lab for certification. This pair is one of my favourites."
(Photos: Cherrie Chin)
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