IN THE hands of Manila’s mahjongeras lies the past and present of the jewelry trade. Huge stones and statement pieces sit on the hands and necks of maturing women, leaving a huge gap on the fingers of minimalist millenials.
Most millennials, said to be the world’s poorest generation, will have to forego the luxury of owning fine jewelry. But that does not mean they have to forgo jewelry altogether.
Enter Suki, a jewelry brand by husband and wife team Aaron and Sharlynne Cabigas. It pushes itself as a jewelry brand ready, willing, and able to sell to millenials through solid gold and gemstone pieces that are minimalist, tapping into the millennial aesthetic, and, which are, more importantly, quite affordable. Pieces by Suki can range in price from P3,000 to P50,000.
According to Ms. Cabigas, her partner and husband Aaron comes from a family of jewelers and the couple noticed that their peers couldn’t relate to the designs being made by Mr. Cabigas’ family. They were too intricate, too fancy, and probably much too expensive. Thus, Mr. Cabigas began to design simpler pieces, which BusinessWorld saw in Makati late last week.
There were simple rose gold pieces studded with small diamond baguettes forming the shape of a feather, and very simple thin rings with a single diamond dot which are designed to be stacked together. As for earrings, standing out among many other designs was a thin hoop surrounded a cluster of gemstones, forming a halo.
The designs create the impression that they are worn by you, instead of the other way around.
“The main inspiration is the modern individual,” said Ms. Cabigas. Note that she didn’t allude to any sex or gender when expressing this: the pieces are so simple that anyone of any stripe could wear them.
Discussing the sale of jewelry to a generation reluctant to shell out money for baubles, Ms. Cabigas said, “It’s a very daunting task…, to introduce solid-gold pieces to millennials.”
According to her, millennial reluctance to shell out money for jewelry (aside from the obvious fact that many are quite broke) is due to their not being ready to do so, to having a sense of intimidation over making the investment, and in some cases, they may just not like jewelry (when trips to Bali are well within reach). “I feel like, there’s a lack of knowledge and education, that really, solid gold can actually be accessible.”
While older women hold the cards in the jewelry game, their progeny might be lucky enough to inherit a few pieces, but few of these younger people actually own pieces that are wholly theirs, with their own style splashed across it instead of the memory of lola firmly encrusted in a pair of earrings.
“Traditionally, we wait for someone to buy a piece for us,” said Ms. Cabigas. “We want you to have that freedom…, that access. We want you to buy jewelry for yourself.”
That’s sort of the reason for the name.
Suki in Filipino means a trusted source, and implies a strong customer-client relationship. On the other hand, according to Ms. Cabigas, “suki” in Japanese means “to like, or to love.”
“We want you to buy jewelry for your special loved ones, or, really, for yourself. That’s who you are, your own special loved one.” — Joseph L. Garcia