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Taking Creative License: Aum by Paul Syjuco

Earrings and necklace of natural coral diamonds and gold laver

MANILA, Philippines - Paul Syjuco has been in the business as a gemologist-designer for 18 years and as a jewelry retailer showcasing pieces by Filipino jewelers for 10, all under the brand Aum Jewels. Having turned 40 this February marked a turning point, as he takes creative license as Aum by Paul Syjuco.

“This is me embracing what I have grown to become,” the third generation fine jeweler says to the media during his new branding and collection’s press launch. It can be assumed it is his birthright, a vision by way of heritage, but he fancied himself more as a numbers guy growing up, taking economics as his undergraduate degree and getting involved with all things sparkly on the other side of the business as a retailer for 10 years in TriNoma and a store in The Peninsula Manila now going on its fourth year. He eventually received training as a gemologist-designer from the Gemological Institute of America and the opportunity to execute his vision as a designer came to him as clients asked him to create bespoke pieces for them, trusting him with the grave task of reinterpreting heirloom jewels.

Coming to terms with putting his name on his work has taken him this much time; years of experience in the industry has afforded him fearlessness. Syjuco asked long-time friend and top graphic designer Isabel Gatuslao to do the rebranding for him.

 

 

 

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“There are different facets of his personality that not a lot of people know about. He plays guitar for different bands and he is a good cook. He is a fan of industrial design. I think that inspires his work. He designs fine jewelry for women but he’s a man’s man. Not a lot of men I know love history and old world design. I wanted to emphasize that,” Gatuslao explains, using a 17th century serif to distinguish “l” from “I” and an “a” with a square terminal. “He has also gotten rid of his black uniform,” she adds, which explains her use of deep purple, also inspired by Syjuco’s life in Bangkok studying jewelry design.

Gatuslao, based in Barcelona at the time to finish her second master’s degree, worked on it remotely through an exchange of PDF files, drawing common elements like scale and lightness from Syjuco’s body of work. She finished in two weeks.

The rebranding also sees a revitalization of his website. The shift to e-commerce is far-fetched considering the artisanal nature of Syjuco’s approach but done partly to reach an international market (his personal work has been included in contemporary jewelry exhibitions abroad and he has been commissioned by clients around Southeast Asia), partly as a landmark to see how far along he has come. “I have been asked to recreate an old design from years ago,” he recalls. Looking at everything side by side, the gallery confirms the deep heritage and timelessness of Syjuco’s fine jewelry.

This year’s 50-piece collection Moderne debuts this rebranding. Syjuco’s simple-yet-precise, sculptural-yet- fluid take on fine jewelry stems from more adventurous contemporary influences but this is the first time that he is inspired by a city, by way of the Catalan movement and its architectural wonders on a recent jaunt in Barcelona. “Barcelona blew my mind. Buildings didn’t have accents, they seemed to be coming out from nature like the details of Casa Batllo and Palau de la Música Catalana. I love the art nouveau of Paris, but here, I saw there is beauty in being imperfect, almost grotesque. Everything is organic with mosaic, brass work, using a contrasting palette,” he points out, sketching in between walks and fleshing out these impressions in his signature use of natural gems and noble metals. My favorite is a set of earrings, brooch and a necklace done with corals, diamonds and twisted gold laver, as though blooms and chilis are emerging from the sea and onto its wearer.

This braveness is Syjuco becoming more of himself. “Now, I am confident because I have accepted what I am.”

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Moderne by Paul Syjuco will be on view to the public from Sept. 19 to 23 at Aum by Paul Syjuco, The Peninsula Manila, Makati and Sept. 26 to 30 at Aum TriNoma, Quezon City. For inquiries, email aum@paulsyjuco.com and visit www.paulsyjuco.com to see the rest of the archives.

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