One’s the queen of wearable art; the other, the master of liveable sculptures. When Simone Ng and Jason Pomeroy put their creative forces together, the result is a unique capsule collection of six rings.
Inspired by six iconic British buildings, the luscious sugarloaf center stone that sits atop each ring can be lifted to reveal a hidden space beneath, decorated to represent architectural elements of the building the particular ring is inspired by. In Gulliver’s reality, these may just make perfect homes for Lilliputians.
I sit down with Ng of Singapore-based jewellery label Simone Jewels and her long-time friend Pomeroy of Pomeroy Studio for an in-depth interview about Jewels of Architecture, their first collaborative jewellery collection.
This is the first collaborative collection for Simone Jewels (the brand turns 12 this year). Why did it take so long?
Simone Ng: There’s a theme for every year’s collection. Usually, it’s based on culture, or history. This year, I chose to move into the history of Britain. Since Jason’s from Britain, I thought it made sense to work with him – we’ve been friends for many years and we’ve always joked about creating a collection together. Opportunity is a strange thing. It has a lot to do with timing and blessings. It wasn’t something that I planned for, but the moment was right, the idea was there, Jason was available, and we both thought it was good timing, so we went ahead with it.
You have chosen six British buildings as inspiration for the collection. Why these six and how do they represent Britain’s history?
Jason Pomeroy: Each chosen building has a particular resonance in my life and when put together, the six buildings demonstrate the evolution of British architecture from medieval times to the modern style of the 20th century. The first is the Pomeroy castle, my family’s castle that’s now an abandoned relic of the past. Then we move on to the Gothic era of King’s College, Cambridge University, which is where I studied. The Renaissance era is represented by Queen’s House, which I’ve always thought of as a real marvel of Renaissance structural ingenuity. St Paul’s Cathedral is a fantastic example of Baroque architecture. My father brought me there when I was eight and it was what inspired me to become an architect. I used to run past the Neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament either in the morning on my way to work or in the evening on my way home. Finally, the Gerkhin – I could see it from my bedroom window. Every building also has particular architectural features that lend themselves well to reinterpretation in jewellery form. The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the spiral staircase in Queen’s House, and the Gothic fan vaulted roof of King’s College are all details that characterise the period of history those buildings belong to, and on top of that, have strong geometries that make reinterpretation really easy.
Is there meaning behind the coloured gem chosen for each ring?
Ng: The Pomeroy castle has a lot of greenery around it and the apple fruit is also significant to it (the name Pomeroy comes from the French words “pomme” and “roy”, which means apple and king respectively), so we decided that the peridot, which is apple green, would be perfect for it. As for the Cambridge ring, Jason said that…
Pomeroy: (jumps in) When we play sports at Cambridge, we wear blue and white stripes. So what better way to represent Cambridge than with the aquamarine, which probably comes closest to that particular shade of blue? We chose the Malayan garnet for the ring inspired by the Houses of Parliament because at sunrise or sunset, the buildings’ stonework looks almost red. Pink zircon was used for St Paul’s Cathedral because it has a significant quantity of marble and again, when the light hits it, it turns slightly pink. The Queen’s House has the blue tanzanite because the wrought iron filigree of its spiral staircase’s balustrade has a blueish tinge to it. Finally, the Gerkhin. The building has a twisting effect that’s actually achieved by using two types of glass, a darkened smoky glass and a clear one. To create a contrast between the bright metal parts of the ring and the stone, we decided on a very dark amethyst.
|Pomeroy Castle ring||9.56-carat peridot center stone with akoya pearls representing the apple trees surrounding the castle, bees and English rose motifs on the ring shank. Within the hidden compartment under the gem is a miniature of the stairway found inside the castle.|
|King’s College ring||18.20-carat aquamarine center stone with motifs inspired by the building’s iconic fan-vaulted ceiling on the ring shank. The hidden compartment is decorated with the same motif.|
|Queen’s House ring||8.91-carat tanzanite center stone with tulip details taken from the building’s wrought iron stairs on the ring shank. A miniature of the spiral stairs sits inside the hidden compartment.|
|St Paul’s Cathedral ring||8.55-carat pink zircon center stone with baroque-style details on the ring shank. The hidden compartment opens to reveal a replica of the cathedral’s iconic decorated domed ceiling.|
|Houses of Parliament ring||10.65-carat garnet center stone with the building’s gothic details on the ring shank. A miniature chandelier, modelled after the one that hangs in the lobby of the building, is hidden in the compartment.|
|Gerkhin ring||8.20-carat amethyst center stone with triangular diamond-pave and mother-of-pearl segments mimicking the building’s glass facade on the ring shank. The same triangular motif is found within the hidden compartment.|
Why have you chosen a more abstract representation of your inspirational subjects instead of replicating them faithfully in miniature, which Simone has definitely done in her previous collections?
Pomeroy: Because it’s like dating. You don’t give everything away on your first date. I think it’s important to leave things to the imagination. It’s important to allow people to create their own stories and finish those stories. When you look at abstract art, what you see will be very different from what I see. It’s human nature to bring ourselves into a story. I also find that there’s a greater craft involved in being able to capture the essence of something than replicating something.
Ng: Since this is a capsule collection, it has to be different from my other collections. But simply coming from a woman’s point of view, a woman may not want to wear an entire building on a finger. It is massive. It will not look very feminine or be very practical.
Jason, how different is designing rings from designing buildings?
The process of design I go through is a constant no matter what product I am working on, which is why I can enter into any discussion on design – whether it is furniture design, product design, creating a toothbrush, or a camera – and still engage in a conversation. I think that’s the mark of a good designer because if I can’t ask myself a set of rigorous questions, then I’ll only be making my design job a lot harder than it should be. I guess the fundamental difference is only in the material object that results, and the materials, too. As an architect, I work with glass, steel, concrete, ceramics – materials that are large scale, because the volumes of space I am working on is of a human scale that is completely different from the human scale of something that is to be worn.
And the commonalities?
Manipulating a certain amount of space, except it’s on a micro scale when it comes to jewellery. In architecture, when I am creating a building or planning a city, the spaces I am manipulating are a lot bigger. The spaces are to encapsulate people, living in real time, working, playing, learning, relaxing, interacting. In creating a piece of jewellery, we are trying to encapsulate a finger, an ear, or a neck. It’s something wearable, something that is interacting immediately with the colour of the wearer’s skin, or her eyes. It’s a very different kind of interaction with the individual compared to a building. I think it’s poetic how we have incorporated a secret compartment underneath the center stone of every ring. As an architect, I am always talking about space and capturing space, so to have a little pocket of space in each of the jewellery pieces hiding architectural elements inspired by the buildings – it’s just really poetic.
Finally, Simone, how was the experience of collaborating with someone else after being accustomed to working alone?
It has been very interesting because we come from very different backgrounds. Jason’s a professionally trained architect and a professor so he brought a lot of structure and sequential processes to the work. As for me, my style is very organic, and I go by my instinct, gut feel, and emotions. Our working styles are very different but they give the best of both worlds.