From The Straits Times    |

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While local label Carrie K. is known for its modern take on pearl jewellery, founder Carolyn Kan, 45, was initially resistant to wear the pearl necklace she inherited from her grandmother as she found them old-fashioned looking.

After a conversation with her mother, who challenged her to modernise the unchanging designs of pearl jewellery found in the market, Carolyn took it upon herself and started the Pearls of Wisdom collection two years ago.



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Why pearls, you might ask. The reasons are threefold.

The first lies in the creation of the pearl. What started as a grain of sand that irritated the oyster would soon turn into one of the world’s most beautiful and precious gems.

The second, was the fact that the silhouette of pearl jewellery – from the traditional string of pearls, to earrings and rings – remained unchanged since its inception. While fashion and style has continually evolved, these have not.



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Finally, pearls, unlike gemstones like diamonds and rubies, cannot be cut and shaped, which inevitably limits the design permutations. Pearl jewellery, while seen as classic and timeless, always seem to be accompanied with a dated image.

“How do you create something that has been seen as ‘grandma’ to be youthful, how do create something that is timeless to be contemporary and one that whose shape cannot be changed to be versatile?” – Carolyn Kan

Carolyn’s answer to this problem comes through with her thoughtful designs that began with the Pearls of Wisdom collection, which tackled the string of pearls.


Photo: Pearls of Wisdom necklace, $1,980, available in cream, grey and black pearl

Breaking the traditional form of the pearl necklace, Carolyn’s take features a two piece set: A choker and a necklace. Worn separately or attached together (as seen in the picture above), the necklace is mutable and can be knotted or layered upon itself to become a double choker.

“In each category – earrings, necklace, ring – we look at how woman want to dress today. Rings and earrings for example, can be stacked with other accessories to create statement looks.” – Carolyn Kan


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The necklace also can be customised by adding other pieces from the label. One such addition are the complementing accessories of this customisable pearl necklace range. As seen above, the range includes a chain necklace with lock motif that is easily attached to the pearl necklace.



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Moreover, subsequent releases by Carrie K., such as the Star collection, can be worn alone or layered with older and future drops. The Star Pearl Clip, as pictured above, is one accessory that can be added to create a different look. The last Carrie K. counted, they had 15 different permutations of wearing the pearl necklace.

From left to right: Statement star ear jacket, $428; Open star ring, $398

This versatility can also been seen with the brand’s pearl earrings and rings. Ear jackets and rings can be layered with a pearled counterpart. These additions come in various designs from gemstones (like their hexa pearl jacket) to modern geometric shapes (open star ring) add a varied, modern flair.


carrie k pearls modern

Photo: Carrie K.

For those who already have pearl jewellery collection and are not looking to get a new one just yet, fret not as these accessories can be used to layer and stacked to alter its form. Except the pearl clips that can be bought on its own, the ear jackets and rings are sold with an accompanying earrings and ring respectively.

Shoppers are also able to customise their pearl jewellery at the Carrie K. shop. Customisation take about a week and  are done inhouse in Singapore. Options include the addition of semi-precious stones like jade, the choice of metal used, to the size and origin of the pearl (from more accessibly priced triple A graded cultured ones, to more expensive ones like Akoya from Japanese to Tahitian and South Sea pearls).



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Here are some tips from Carolyn on how to make your pearl jewellery last:

  • Always store the pearl necklace flat and nothing should be placed on top of it.
  • Pearls are made of nacre so they should be placed away from metals to prevent scratches.
  • Pearls can be cleaned with a dry, microfibre cloth (or those that come with glasses) only.
  • Avoid contact with chemicals like perfume and detergent as it can corrode to pearl.

The full range is available at the Carrie K. store at National Design Centre, level 2.