In her Shine collection (above), the star pendant is made up of two angular pieces which are attached via a magnet. — PHOTO: YUKI MITSUYASU
Delicate silver and gold-plated necklaces lie side-by-side on a black velvet tray in jewellery designer Yuki Mitsuyasu’s home-based workshop. But clasps are nowhere in sight.
“Lobster clasps feel like an afterthought,” says the 30-year-old Japanese national and Singapore permanent resident, of the traditional closures used in her line of work.
“I think jewellery should be designed as a whole, which is why I like to incorporate the clasps into the designs themselves,” she continues.
Her best-selling Shine collection, whose main motif is a 3-D origami-like star clasp, is a testament to her belief that the humble clasp can actually be an invitation to be creative.
What looks like an ordinary star pendant is, upon closer examination, two angular heart-shaped pieces that combine, via magnet, to form a star.
The clever clasp is the focal point of the Shine necklace and representative of her aesthetic – simple, clean and with a surprise twist.
The Singapore-based designer marked a milestone last month, with the introduction of her eponymous jewellery label at a dedicated counter in Takashimaya Department Store’s third level.
It is her first counter and the first time her jewellery is stocked at a department store here.
Her collection is also stocked at Singapore multi-label boutiques Nana & Bird, Inhabit, Blackmarket and The Society of Black Sheep. Overseas, the brand is available at retail outlets in Britain, France, Belgium and Hong Kong.
Ms Mitsuyasu chooses to make the clasp the star of her pieces. — PHOTO: YUKI MITSUYASU
“I could never have imagined my work would be sold here one day,” says the designer, who moved to Singapore at the age of five when her father was sent here to work for the Singapore branch of a Japanese manufacturing firm.
Her products range in price from $70 for a single sterling silver earring to $500 for a freshwater pearl and sterling silver necklace.
While she is proud of her work, Ms Mitsuyasu never imagined she would become a jewellery designer.
She explains that she did not even know there was such a profession until she was in high school and chanced upon a pamphlet of Danish jewellery brand Georg Jensen with a profile of its designer on the back.
She later decided to study jewellery design at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, graduating in 2005.
Her graduation collection, called Illusion, consisted of pieces with a signature secret twist – a ring that casts a shadow in the shape of a heart, for example.
“That bit of surprise and fun still holds true for my work today,” she says.
The petite Ms Mitsuyasu went on to work at British label Sweet Pea Jewellery Design for four years.
In 2009, she moved back to Singapore for family reasons and decided to devote herself completely to the Yuki Mitsuyasu brand, which she had been working on developing in her own time, while she was still at Sweet Pea.
Critics have responded positively to Ms Mitsuyasu’s work.
Among the awards she has picked up are the Best New Product award at the 2008 International Jewellery London show for her Shine collection, and a silver award in fashion jewellery at The Goldsmiths Craft and Design Awards, also in London, in 2007.
Trade shows are also a staple for the burgeoning brand. Ms Mitsuyasu has participated in the Blueprint trade show in Singapore three times since 2011, as well as Tranoi and Premiere Classe in Paris three times since last year.
She designs two collections each year, each boasting about 20 pieces, getting inspiration from her travels and the world around her.
PHOTO: YUKI MITSUYASU
The Shine collection, additionally, was inspired by her father’s words of wisdom that “when looking for a partner, what is most important is that the person lets you shine”.
Ms Mitsuyasu married a Japanese finance executive in the shipping industry last year. He is also based in Singapore. They have no children.
She shows Urban her Varuna collection, inspired by a trip to Nepal and the natural environment there, launched earlier this year.
True to her style, one of the long necklaces features a deceptively simple-looking elongated oval accent piece.
The pieces unwind and come apart to reveal shapes inspired by a mountain range and a large water droplet.
She says, with a smile, of the secret design: “It is the circle of life.”
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on August 23, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.