Confessions of a jeweller: Toy bead set sparks mum’s career change
Ex-lawyer finds inspiration in almost everything around her
A bead set from Toys 'R' Us. That was what turned Joanne Low, 47, into a jeweller.
This is a far cry from her job as a corporate lawyer, which she left in 2002, after her second son was born, to look after her children.
"I found it challenging to be a 100 per cent mother and a 100 per cent lawyer, and I knew that if I wanted to be at 100 per cent, something had to be sacrificed," said Ms Low, who has three children aged 18, 16 and 12.
Her interest in jewellery started when she was assembling a bead set with her daughter in 2010.
"When I opened the box of beads to work on it, I realised that I couldn't figure out how the parts go together," she said.
To understand how to assemble it, she took various courses at the Jewellery Design and Management International School from 2010 to 2015.
Its campus is now in Stirling Road, as a joint venture with the Management Development Institute of Singapore.
Ms Low learnt about bead and wire work, metalsmithing, gemmology, computer-aided design and so on.
She started her brand, Joanne L., in 2011.As part of her job, Ms Low does jewellery designing and fabrication.
This means that she designs the jewellery and then creates the finished product by using gemstones and other materials.
She sometimes works with other craftsmen.
Being a mother and an entrepreneur is not easy. She has even taken her children to meetings with suppliers.
Besides sourcing for gemstones and liaising with clients, Ms Low extracts stories from the clients and figures out what they want in their pieces.
"Sometimes, clients come in without knowing what they want in a piece. I will discuss various elements with them, such as their lifestyle, budget, and personalities," she said.
"To me, everybody has an amazing story, even if you do not know it yourself."
Ms Low added that this is what makes her job so interesting.
One of her clients went to her with jewellery from her late mother-in-law.
The mother-in-law wanted a particular diamond to be part of her grandson's wedding. Ms Low then redesigned the diamond into an engagement ring and some of the other jewellery into a few pairs of earrings for the family.
Ms Low can find inspiration in anything around her but mainly in architecture, nature, geometry and culture.
Her pieces range from a ring that looks like Emmental cheese to one inspired by Asian buildings.
Ms Low works from her showroom, which she has set up at home. Her clients range from professionals to housewives.
While some people think being a jeweller is easy, Ms Low said that is not true.
"A lot people think jewellery is just a matter of putting many shiny objects together," she said.
"But there is a lot of work that goes into being a jeweller, such as having to constantly train myself to be current in my knowledge by attending courses."
Secrets of the trade
- You need a lot of patience
- Also a good eye for detail and sense of aesthetics
- You need to be able to listen to your clients and identify their preferences and needs
- Be adventurous, explore new ideas and materials