A Cebuano jeweler hones her craft in the unconventional
CIAO BELLA! - Maureen Disini () - May 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Crafted from a startling combination of materials such as brass, resin, wood, acrylic, small mirrors, and semi-precious stones, Noreen Tseng-Fernandez’s accessories appear to have little in common with conventional jewelry.

While each piece she creates is guaranteed to be unique and one of a kind, the Cebu-based designer’s unwavering aesthetic comes through —clear and definitely loud —across the Tseng Jewelry line: chunky yet not clunky; often oversized yet never overwhelming; big and bold yet sleek, even sculptural.

“I have a lot of respect for (the late) architect Frank Lloyd Wright, for his clean lines,” Tseng-Fernandez says. “I started out making geometric-patterned jewelry with clean, modern lines but recently, I have been making couture pieces that are big, full, and loud.”

These rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces (the line shows a definite fondness for bib necklaces and bangles in particular) are certainly not for the timid. “A woman who understands my work,” Tseng-Fernandez explains, “is not afraid to wear bold pieces and would definitely like to get noticed.” 

For the young designer, it’s all about individuality, exclusivity, and quality — every piece takes from about a week to a month to make by skilled artisans, and she makes sure no detail is overlooked so that every item is as perfect as it can be. Metal and wood is sourced from the designer’s native Cebu, while other raw materials — including semi-precious stones such as tourmaline, agate, jasper, citrine, turquoise, amethyst, onyx, rose quartz, corals, and crystals — are imported from different parts of the world.

“I started designing jewelry in 2006,” Tseng-Fernandez relates, “while helping out in my father’s business.” The family manufacturing firm had long been importing granite slabs, home furnishing fixtures, and the like, and went on to source components and beads for various accessory-export companies in Cebu. “This got me interested,” Tseng-Fernandez continues, “and I started tinkering with the raw materials and making myself accessories for personal use. The rest, as they say, is history; I launched my first line in 2007.”

Cutting edge: Each piece in Tseng Fernandez’s collection acts as a stand-alone statement.

The practice of synthesizing the best of local and global is not limited to just the Tseng-Fernandez jewelry’s origin and construction, but continues to inform its outlook, moving forward. “I don’t put limitations, when it comes to inspiration,” Tseng-Fernandez says. Aside from the aforementioned Frank Lloyd Wright, “I have a lot of Cebuano designers that I admire and look up to; they have helped me in more ways than I could ever have imagined.

“I have participated in several shows here in Cebu,” Tseng-Fernandez continues. “In Manila, I was privileged to be a part of (the) Privé fashion series for Mega magazine, which was held last year at Members Only. This June, I will be collaborating with fellow designer Oj Hofer, for Fashion Watch at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.”

As for how she sees herself in five years’ time, Tseng-Fernandez reveals, “I would like to be recognized for my work, be it local or international.”

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Visit Tseng Jewelry at Jun Escario, Greenbelt 5.

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