With her signature short crop and cool rock chic vibes, it doesn’t seem like Singapore jeweller Carolyn Kan of Carrie K would have much in common with Paige Parker, a prominent socialite, philanthropist and author who is rarely seen with a hair out of place. But as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving – and in this case, exceptionally so.
For one, they’re both exceptionally strong women: Carolyn gave up her role as a managing director of a top advertising agency to pursue her passions and her accoladed jewellery label; while Paige, together with her husband Jim Rogers, holds the Guinness record for most countries visited in a continuous journey by car.Then, there’s their unwavering belief and support of local talent with Carolyn having spearheaded Keepers, a retail initiative now housed at National Design Centre that throws the spotlight on independent designers, while GIA certified gemologist Paige is often seen in Singapore labels when attending high profile events.
In this light, their recent collaboration on a jewellery collection seems like a natural fit. Entitled Journey, the designs are inspired by Parker’s record breaking road trip taken two decades ago. Fifty percent of the collection’s profits will go towards the Singapore Committee for UN Women and their programmes to empower women through education and job opportunities.
Here, they tell us more about the collection.
How did this collaboration come about?
Paige Parker: Carolyn and I became friends several years ago through Keepers and our mutual love of supporting local artists, artisans and fashion designers. She learned I was a gemologist and we discussed a potential partnership; but it wasn’t until about a year ago – over coffee in my home, when she noticed I had oodles of globes and maps – did we turn serious on the collection together. It’s a collection to inspire women to chart their own journeys and not allow life to drive them – just like the way Carolyn lives her life.
Carolyn Kan: I love telling stories through our designs, and wanted to establish our inspiration for the collection with the most important story or life lesson Paige would want to pass on to her daughters. It’s clear that travel is one of Paige’s passions, and the one great lesson she took away from her epic journey around the world – which she documented in her book, Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers – was to not just be a passenger but to take control of her life’s journey. This became the motivation for us to create a collection that conveys this story and also to become that a modern heirloom piece that mums can wear and gift to their daughters in celebration of key milestones in their lives.
What was the most challenging part about producing the collection?
CK: As Carrie K. is known for versatile engineering, it took a while for us to ensure the designs were versatile and robust enough to weather global travel. As all the gems featured in the collection are custom cut, we went through a few iterations of the gem cuts on top of carefully curating a selection of gems that are not only meaningful but also look beautiful in its setting. We designed various pieces for versatile styling with travellers in mind. The pieces may be worn a number of different ways, and some pieces, like the Compass pearl clip, is designed to allow the classic pearl necklace to be styled in different and refreshing ways.
PP: I wanted literal navigational themes and motifs so the wearer would be reminded of travel, of going out there and taking chances, of wagering on a compass to direct them through the desert, or longitude and latitude to find their way ahead or back home. I wanted strong references to have women lead and direct their own lives on their terms in a strong, beautiful fashion.
What are you most proud of about Journey?
PP: I’m proud to have collaborated with Carrie K. because I wear the brand and respect it. The pieces are chic, stunning and unique, which is incredibly cool. Plus, as a gemologist, I’m delighted to have my first jewellery collection out there to share with other women. I’ve designed pieces for myself before, but this process, working with Carolyn and her team – on designs, stones, metals, heft, pricing – taught me to think about how the wearer will feel when she puts on the design and ultimately has to pay for it! We had to lighten the weight of the bracelet and necklace simply because the cost would have been prohibitive. This was a learning journey for me, which I adored.
CK: I often think about Carrie K.’s purpose, which is to leave a positive mark on everyone we touch. Through our craft, we create physical symbols and representation of meaningful, intimate stories that people wear to remind them of what is important, or perhaps to mark a milestone achievement. Thanks to Paige [who is on the board of Singapore’s UN Women], this collection allows us to not just create those stories but also to have a positive impact on the community through Singapore Committee for UN Women. Fifty percent of profits will be donated to the organisation’s programmes to help empower women to be in a position to chart their own journey.
Now that you’ve worked closely with each other, tell us one thing about the other person that you respect the most.
CK: Wow, there are so many new things I have learned about her that has made me admire and respect her even more. Paige is a rare mix of dreamer and, more importantly, doer. The key thing I respect about her is her deep empathy for others, her refreshing honesty, and her 200% conviction once she has set her course. She is an “All In” kind of woman.
PP: Carrie is really funny. She cracks jokes left and right and I like this so much. She’s terribly thoughtful too, asking about my daughters often. Carolyn is a woman for women. She believes in creating pieces that will make the wearer feel positive and satisfied – jewellery that can one day be passed on from mothers to daughters to create their own story with the pieces.
What is your favourite piece from the collection?
PP: The Globe ring; the design is perfect. Lovely height with arched longitude and latitude, coupled with a white moonstone and white sapphires that make it an absolute show-stopper. Of course, this resonates with me since travel – and standing out – represent so much about me.
CK: My favourite piece of the collection is the Compass Signet Ring in gold for my pinky finger. I’d like a ring that I can look at to remind me to stay on course. I suspect it will be one of those “security blanket” pieces, that I will feel naked without it.