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On the Radar

The Triad Strikes Again

MANILA FASHION OBSERVER - Christine Dychiao -

The jewelry industry, by way of its relation to the mining industry, is often linked to controversial social and environmental issues. Think blood diamonds and the ecological impacts of harmful mining practices. With a mind to educate consumers that “gems” and “gold” can be uttered in the same breath as “recycling” and “sustainability,” jewelers Paul Syjuco, Kristine Dee and Michelline Syjuco decided to deal with these issues head on via “Triad II: Reluxe.”

For their second joint exhibition, Michelline created a collection of jewelry made partly from reclaimed and surplus industrial materials, while Paul and Kristine focused on using reclaimed and recycled precious metals. While the trio’s successful debut collection was all about looking to the future, their pieces for this year’s show have most certainly brought out the glory of the past.

ON THE RADAR: Did you intend for “Triad II” to happen, or was it brought upon by the success of “Triad 1”?

Michelline: I think the success of “Triad” propelled us to move forward with “Triad 2.” Although even if “Triad 1” had not been as successful, we probably would have done it again, just because it was so much fun for us to work together the first time around.

Reluxe is about using recycled precious metals or repurposing metals. When you say recycled metals, what’s that about?

Michelline: I for one use a lot of discarded bullet shells that are melted down and turned into luxurious pieces of wearable art. I also use a lot of scrap metal from the junk shop.

Paul: For my pieces I used the metals derived from old, unused jewelry. We melt this down, refine it and are able to use it once again as fine gold.

Kristine: In my case, I reused gold from old pieces of jewelry, mostly from what clients brought in from their own collections. Some are old and perhaps, I would say, dated.

They bring them in because they want to update the look or change the design. They want the precious stones (like diamonds, pearls or other colored gems) to come alive or look fresh again according to the times. While gold is melted, refined and reused to create a new piece. This way, gold is recycled and reused economically, without waste.

Cuffs by Michelline Syjuco which are made partly from reclaimed and surplus industrial materials.

Would you say Reluxe is a form of upcycling? Is that a new concept in the jewelry industry and how long has this practice been going on?

Michelline: I’m not sure how long this practice has been going on, but I for one have been incorporating recycled materials into my jewelry from the very beginning. My very first pieces were made out of Nestlé Cream cans.

Paul: I guess upcycling is a good way to describe it. I consciously tried to use the refined metals and turn them into contemporary pieces that are more updated in look and feel. In the Philippines, some people have heirloom pieces they don’t want to use because of outdated designs, so they would have them reworked into newer pieces using some of the recovered gold and gems. It is not really a new idea. But here with our collections, we wanted to focus more on using reclaimed metals as our primary ingredient and translating our inspirations through the medium. And also to show jewelry from repurposed inputs don’t need to have a shabby-chic aesthetic.

Kristine: Yes, I guess we can say it is a form of upcycling. When you use old materials, you add more value to an old piece, by breaking it apart, reworking it and improving the design. The end result is a value-added piece.

In jewelry terms, when a client brings in an old piece and wants to reuse the gold, it is called a trade in. This practice has been going on but not a lot of jewelry stores/retailers take in this type of arrangement. Sometimes it is more tedious and time consuming for retailers. For them, it is definitely easier to make a sale of readymade jewelry they have on hand.

Of course, my jewelry comes from a totally different market. The selling point is my uniqueness and non-commercial aspect of each piece. Everything is handmade, not from a mold, and not made in batches of 10.

What made you decide to go towards that direction for “Triad II”?

Michelline: Actually, it was Paul’s idea, and since I love working with discarded materials to begin with, I jumped at the opportunity.

Paul: When you’re in jewelry, you’re basically a direct driver of mining of gems and precious metals, be it large or small scale. It’s a little bit disconcerting that you contribute to the damage. And this is to show that whatever it is that you do, there are responsible choices you can make to contribute to the common good.

Ring by Paul Syjuco with his signature infusion of colored stones and diamonds

Kristine: With all the consumerism going on, we wanted to create a line that has purpose and meaning, not just create pieces to sell, but something that will tell a story, something with a background.

How long did it take you to plan and launch “Triad II”? And did you work independently or did you seek out each other’s input while working on your individual collections?

Michelline: We’ve been working on this project since the beginning of the year, and although we did not see each other’s works before they were completed, we kept in touch, discussed and consulted with each other.

Paul feels this could be your best collection yet, and judging from the photos, I would agree that this year’s pieces look totally inspired. What was your mindset and creative process like as you worked on your pieces?

Michelline: I agree that this collection is really awesome. I was very inspired by the idea of turning useless scraps of metal into beautiful luxurious pieces of art. On my part, I wanted to make jewelry that no one would ever think came from recycled junk.

Paul: My goal was to recreate a feeling of luxury from the old pieces. Which is where we derived Reluxe from — the renewing or recreating luxury.

Kristine: I agree with Paul because I would say this was a most tiring process but also the most fun. I think we get better each show. Being in the group helps us push ourselves a bit further. The creative process depended largely on the available precious materials that were allotted for recycling. With these materials, I would imagine what kind of woman would wear this or that. Then I would create a piece for that specific woman in mind. It is more of converting emotions into wearable forms.

Would you say a “Triad III” is on the horizon?

Michelline: I’m always open to that possibility!

Paul: I would honestly like to enjoy this launch first before I have to face the reality of having to come out with a new collection again.

* * *

“Triad II: Reluxe” was unveiled last Oct. 22 at Firma Greenbelt 3, in partnership with Moët and the Modern Epicurean Kitchen. All three collections are now on display at Firma.

JEWELRY

KRISTINE

MICHELLINE

PAUL

PIECES

RELUXE

TRIAD

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