Choo Yilin

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Choo Yilin
Choo Yilin.jpg
Born
Choo Yilin
Alma materNational University of Singapore (Honours Degree in Psychology), London Business School (MBA)
OccupationFine jewellery designer
Known forFounder of Choo Yilin Artisanal Jewellery
AwardsMort Abelson Award (Nominee), Elle Jewellery Designer of the Year (Nominee), Women's Jewelry Association 2010 Daytime Jewels (First Place), Women's Jewelry Association 2010 Evening Jewels (First Place)
Websitehttps://chooyilin.com/

Choo Yilin is the founder of her eponymous jewellery label, Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery. A Jade specialist, Choo Yilin identifies as a social entrepreneur who designs intimate and eco-conscious luxury jade jewellery. Melissa Koh, a Singaporean lifestyle blogger, featured Choo Yilin's jewellery in her bridal photo shoot.[1] She has also been commissioned to design and produce jewellery pieces for Amanda Seyfried, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Sasha and Malia Obama.[2]

Background

Based in Singapore, Choo Yilin is a fifth-generation Straits-born Chinese. In 2004, she graduated with an Honours Degree in Psychology from the National University of Singapore (NUS) before completing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the London Business School in 2013.[3]


Choo worked as a Political Analyst in the Ministry of Defence from 2004 to 2007. In 2007, she followed her husband to Bangkok, Thailand where she co-founded the Women Investigating and Nurturing Gifts and Skills (WINGS). In 2009, Choo made a career shift and launched her label, Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery.[4]

Choo Yilin Artisanal Jewellery (2009 - present)

The Peranakan Flower Series from Choo Yilin's Si Dian Jin bridal collection. Photo from Choo Yilin.

Origins

While in Bangkok, Choo worked in projects helping traditionally marginalised groups such as the Karen hill tribe people. She had been inspired by the Karen people’s long history of silver craftsmanship to set up a business model that could bridge art and social entrepreneurship.[5]


Since its inception, Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery is known for its sustainable eco-friendly jewellery which uses reclaimed metals, and sometimes, flawed gemstones to create what Choo termed as “organic asymmetry”.[6] Choo’s Peranakan Straits-Chinese background served as one of the primary inspirations for her work. She seeks to craft jewellery which tell stories of heritage, love and conservation.[7][8]


As a label that specialises in modern jade jewellery, Choo Yilin primarily works with “handpicked Type A Jadeite, diamonds and vibrant-coloured precious gemstones”. Traditionally intricate metalwork designs created by regional artisans complement the jade pieces.[9] In doing so, Choo attempted to add a youthful and timeless interpretation of what is considered as a precious rock.[10]


By 2010, the Choo Yilin’s brand was carried by 10 retail boutiques in 4 countries, including Britain and the United States.[11]

Awards

In 2010, Choo Yilin was the first Asian designer to be nominated for the prestigious Mort Abelson Award and the Elle Jewellery Designer of the Year. In the same year, she won first place at the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) 2010 Daytime Jewels and was also placed first for the WJA 2010 Evening Jewels.[12]

Exhibit shows

Bangles from Choo Yilin's Peranakan collection. Photo from Her World Singapore.

New York AsiaStore 2017

Choo was 1 of the 7 designers participating in the Singapore Design Now event at AsiaStore in New York. The showcase highlighted Singapore’s fashion, retail and food culture on an international platform.[13]

London Jewellery Week 2013

In 2013, Choo launched a new collection titled the “Choo Yilin Peranakan Collection” as part of the London Jewellery Week. The collection was built around the label’s Asian heritage and Peranakan culture. The pieces used “up-cycled” wood, jadeite, gemstones and bronze crafted by Cambodian artisans.[14]

Tranoї 2012

Choo was invited to exhibit at the Tranoї, one of the world’s top fashion platforms held in conjunction with Paris Fashion Week. She was 1 of the 6 designers shortlisted by International Enterprise Singapore and the Textile & Fashion Federation.[15][16]

London Jewellery Week 2010

Coral Polyp Rings from Choo Yilin's "Alternative to Coral" collection. Photo from Her World Singapore.

In 2010, Choo was invited to present her collection “Alternative to Coral” at the London Jewellery Week where she spoke to industry leaders about sustainability.[17] With a S$10,000 funding from the Design Council Singapore, Choo’s collection paid homage to corals while raising awareness for the endangered organisms.[18][19] She worked with the non-profit group ‘Too Precious To Wear’. Her designs featured coral-inspired earrings, rings and cuff bangles made from reclaimed gold and silver.[20]


The items from the collection were available for purchase in Singapore a few months after the showcase.[21]

Collaborations

Shuang Xi Lacquer Jewellery Boxes (2019)

The two designs for the Shuang Xi Lacquer Jewellery Boxes. Photo from Scene Shang.

In 2019, Choo experimented with designing lacquer jewellery boxes. Together with Scene Shang, a local brand that specialises in creating furniture and lifestyle items, the two brands launched the Shuang Xi Lacquer Jewellery Boxes collection. The boxes had two designs that were inspired by Peranakan tiles and handmade by Vietnamese lacquer artisans.[22]

My Baby Tree Campaign (2012)

Choo worked with the World Wildlife Fund on its My Baby Tree Campaign. In this project, each purchase of a bronze leaf necklace, designed by Choo Yilin, would see a baby tree planted in Lombok, Indonesia. The campaign helped to build her brand’s sustainability efforts and eco-conscious message.[23]

TTMD x Choo Yilin x Calliope Silent Auction (2011)

On 29 May 2011, Choo collaborated with Jade Swee, founder of ‘Time Taken to Make a Dress’ (TTMD) and Alicia Kiang of ‘Calliope’ to hold a one-off auction event. The event was a new way of building brand awareness and marketing their products.[24]


The starting bid for the respective items began at a 30% discount. Unlike a conventional auction, interested bidders placed their increasing bids on a piece of paper next to the items.[25]

Sustainable Luxury Design Workshop (2010)

In November 2010, Choo collaborated with Jujube Li, founder of ‘JUJUBE’, sustainable footwear retailer ‘Terra Plana Singapore’ and ‘Green Drinks Singapore’ founder, Olivia Choong. Together, they organised a programme consisting of talks and a discussion panel to converse about fashion design and sustainable shopping. The workshop promoted the eco-fashion agenda that is practised by the brands involved.[26][27]

Choo Yilin showrooms and ateliers

Mandarin Gallery

The Choo Yilin flagship store at Mandarin Gallery. Photo from Choo Yilin.

With improving sales, Choo opened her first flagship store at the Mandarin Gallery in Orchard Road in July 2016.[28]

Joo Chiat

Previously, Choo made private visits to customers and had her designs showcased in exclusive pop-ups or shows. In 2014, Choo opened her first showroom at Joo Chiat Road, an area known for its rich peranakan heritage.[29] The showroom was converted into an atelier in 2017 to offer a more personalised level of service.[30]


The two-storey Joo Chiat shophouse had a jade bangle interactive bar which offers customisation. A workshop space used to be set up on the second floor where jewellery-making and jade appreciation classes were hosted. On the same level, a work area was set aside, which allowed visitors to watch the artisans at work.[31]


As of 2019, the Joo Chiat atelier specialises in “by-appointment-only” bespoke customisation for engagement rings and wedding bands.

References / Citations

  1. Tang, Tansey. "ETHEREAL CHOO YILIN X MELISSA C. KOH WEDDING STYLED SHOOT WITH AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW". Singapore Brides. July 2017. Accessed on 27 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://singaporebrides.com/articles/2017/07/choo-yilin-melissa-koh-wedding-styled-shoot/
  2. Wong, Nicolette. “The Tatler 10: Singapore’s Best Jewellers for 2018”. Singapore Tatler. September 1, 2018. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://sg.asiatatler.com/style/topping-the-charts
  3. "Yilin Choo". LinkedIn. Accessed 22 August 2019.
  4. "Yilin Choo". LinkedIn. Accessed 22 August 2019.
  5. Ong Soh Chin. “Fine Gems”. The Straits Times. December 3, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. Ong Soh Chin. “Fine Gems”. The Straits Times. December 3, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  7. "Yilin Choo". LinkedIn. Accessed 22 August 2019.
  8. “Interview with Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery”. Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.taff.org.sg/interview-with-choo-yilin-artisan-jewellery/
  9. “Our Story”. Choo Yilin. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://chooyilin.com/pages/our-story
  10. Chia, Stacey. “Telling stories through jade”. The Straits Times. July 23, 2015. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. Ong Soh Chin. “Fine Gems”. The Straits Times. December 3, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  12. “Sustainable Luxury Label - Choo Yilin”. A-Mod. September 18, 2012. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://amodsg.wordpress.com/tag/choo-yilin/
  13. Wong, Cara. “Six local designers invited to showcase works in New York”. The Straits Times. May 18, 2017. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/spore-design-on-show-in-nyc
  14. Niki Bruce. “Singapore jeweller Choo Yilin to showcase at London Jewellery Week”. Her World. June 13, 2013. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.herworld.com/fashion/singapore-jeweller-choo-yilin-showcase-london-jewellery-week
  15. Chung, Gladys. “A date with Paris”. The Straits Times. February 24, 2012. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  16. Niki Bruce. “Choo Yilin Artisan Jewellery to show at Tranoї in Paris”. Her World. February 3, 2012. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.herworld.com/fashion/choo-yilin-artisan-jewellery-show-trano%C3%AF-paris
  17. Melissa Lwee. “The role of ethics in fine jewellery”. The Business Times. May 21, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  18. Rohaizatul Azhar. “Design Stars”. The Straits Times. May 21, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  19. Melissa Lwee. “The role of ethics in fine jewellery”. The Business Times. May 21, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
  20. Melissa Lwee. “The role of ethics in fine jewellery”. The Business Times. May 21, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  21. “Save the Corals”. The Straits Times. October 29, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  22. “Two’s Company”. The Business Times. June 28, 2019. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  23. Wee, Vincent.”Rock On”. The Business Times. April 21, 2012. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  24. Melissa Lwee. “Business Unusual”. The Business Times. May 14, 2011. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  25. Melissa Lwee. “Business Unusual”. The Business Times. May 14, 2011. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  26. “Fashion goes green”. The Business Times. December 10, 2010. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  27. “Sustainable fashion workshop by key eco fashion players in Singapore, Nov 13”. Green Drinks Singapore. November 9, 2010. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://sggreendrinks.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/sustainable-fashion-workshops-by-key-eco-fashion-players-in-singapore/
  28. Alyssa Woo. “Modern take on classic gems”. The Straits Times. August 31, 2017. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  29. Lydia Vasko. “My Weekend”. The Straits Times. June 27, 2014. Accessed 19 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  30. Kwek, Angelyn. “Choo Yilin opens its atelier doors in the charming Joo Chiat district”. Buro. May 2, 2017. Accessed 23 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.buro247.sg/watches-and-jewellery/buro-loves/choo-yilin-atelier-joo-chiat-road-jade-jewellery.html
  31. Natasha Ann Zachariah. “Enterprising entrepreneurs reinvent retail to entice shoppers”. The Straits Times. May 20, 2017. Accessed 22 August 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.