The tea party affair at The Cake Club at The Fort became the ironic backdrop for the mystifying raison d’ être of the moment. While the wait staff were busy presenting trays of dainty sandwiches and pastries, guests hovered around the main table to view the display of jewelry with skull bracelets and the wide-open jaws of shark as pendant, or bracelets shaped as bones.
But interestingly, the pieces with the deathly theme look more elegant and mysterious than macabre. It’s a result of its designers’ fascination with fossils and other things related with the passage of time. Two of lifestyle media’s accomplished members, beauty editor Ria Prieto and fashion editor Bea Ledesma (who both have separate columns in two major newspapers) launched their first collection for their new business called Narra Jewelry.
Named after the Philippine wood, the women wanted to make their brand synonymous with its characteristic resiliency. “We’re not flash in the pan,” stresses Ledesma, “We like to think we’re strong females and, at the same time, we wanted a sound that’s very Filipino, very Asian, because we want to keep to our roots.”
The designers created the skull as the universal piece of their first collection, which pursues the theme of what remains, fossils, remnants, things left behind after a particular time, leaving a sort of old-world patina.
Ledesma explains, “One of the cornerstones of our label that we wanted to keep in mind as we progress to our second collection is to make sure there’s always tension between the delicate and the tough because we’re not girly but we like girly things. And we’re not funky but we like a few funky things.”
With such a theme, Ledesma relates that this was how Prieto developed the bone cuff. Next, the team worked their way around underwater elements. Ledesma reveals she has a faux shark head in her home, which moved her to create the collection’s shark jaw and tooth pendants.
“It’s all based on fossilized imagery. Things you find in museums or on some shore stripped of its flesh and bare bones and what remains is the essence and that’s what we want to capture in this collection,” adds Ledesma.
Handcrafted by local artisans, the collection consists of pieces made from .925 sterling silver, dipped in gold, which “will fade in time to a soft patina.” Ledesma continues, “We want the elegance of precious metal, but not too precious.”
The pieces, looking so delicate, cast a disturbing impression on the viewer. Each miniature skull and bone cuff appears to be like a sacred yet strangely consoling piece its wearer would want to stroke, or play with every so often.
“We didn’t want to make chunky statement jewelry. We wanted to make things you can wear everyday and mix so they’re effortless and easy. The scale of the pieces are small and thin—and that’s the point,” expounds Ledesma.
It’s all about layering necklaces or bracelets as much as one feels. Prieto, according to Ledesma, likes wearing her bracelets five at a time. Bea will wear either her shark jaw or shark tooth necklaces with a Tiffany pendant and a Mother Mary necklace that she got from a local beachside shop.
Still, individuality is encouraged by the designers. The fashion editor in Ledesma says one can wear one thin piece with a crisp white shirt and trousers. “You can wear it to the office, it’s not too funky. And that’s what we wanted to do, we wanted something old-world and elegant.”
Narra Jewelry’s Fossil Collection is available at AC + 632 in Greenbelt 5, Makati City.