#1: Chez Grillz
The two-year-old jewellery label by Hanya Seah and her partner specialises in customised teeth grills, caps and fangs – simply put, the “mouth bling” worn by celebrities like Madonna, Kendall Jenner and other hip-hop artists.
“I wanted to get “teeth grillz” done but there was no one who was able to do it in Asia,” Seah says of the brand’s origins. “My partner then did a lot of research and figured out how to do it.”
Apart from teeth grills, their other offerings are just as edgy: There are bejewelled signet rings, necklaces with letters in gothic Old English font, and even pendants bearing the faces of local music sensations Gentle Bones and Myrne (see photo above).
Everything from the brand is handmade, and the materials used to create their jewellery – sterling silver, 9/14/18-karat gold or rose gold – are sourced from local goldsmiths. Customised items take at least a month to produce, while customised teeth grills will take two weeks.
Seah says that while prices start at $80 for a simple necklace, you could pay a pretty penny for highly customised ones. “A piece could cost thousands of dollars depending on the complexity of the design, the type of metal used and whether there are diamonds or crystals,” she explains.
For now, they’re only taking in orders via their Instagram account, because they find that it’s easier to communicate directly with their customers that way. “We’re happy that we’ve gotten to know most of our customers on a personal level,” she adds.
Launched last November, the online jewellery store has enjoyed significant succcess in the past five months. “It started to turn a profit pretty quickly, even when there were only three earring designs available,” shares founder Elissa Y. (she declines to reveal her full surname), whose day job is in marketing and PR for a tech start-up.
While there is no fixed launch schedule, the store has released a new collection every month, all of which focus on contemporary yet feminine designs. According to Y., it’s a gap that she hopes to plug in the market right now. “The trend of wearing minimalist accessories is becoming more prevalent, but many local stores are still bringing in the same cookie-cutter designs for the masses,” she says. “Diving for Pearls aims to meet the demands of customers looking for clean, pared-down designs that are still unique enough to spark a conversation.”
So far, the store carries earrings sourced from Asia, and their designs range from abstract faces to arty, organic shapes. Everything here is priced affordably (between $20 to $35), and it’s something that Y. hopes to maintain for the business. “The brand is all about statement-making minimalist designs that look good without breaking the bank,” she says.
While the brand was set up in 2015, it went through a rebranding exercise a year ago and focused its product offerings on origami earrings made in the shape of butterflies, cranes, bunnies and more. Crafted from Japanese washi paper, every design is treated with the brand’s own skin-safe, water-resistant coating to help it retain its shape and texture well.
The quartet behind the brand – Eugene Koh, Amanda Lim, Melissa Ngein and Vina P. Hermanto – are NAFA studio mates trained in sculpture, painting, illustration and ceramics. “We didn’t want to lose touch with our art practices when we graduated, so we decided to collaborate and work on one of our favourite pastimes: origami,” says Koh.
The coolest thing about their designs? Everything is one-of-a-kind, and easy on the pocket too (prices usually range between $16.90 to $22.90). While they do take in orders via Instagram, the brand has recently launched their website to make the ordering process more seamless, and are also offering dream-catcher making workshops or henna drawing events.