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With Caratell Jewellery, rare, natural and very occasionally treated gemstones abound in a wide range of seductive shades, forming part of a dazzling array of bold yet ultra-feminine designs, as part of two to three collections a year as well as plentiful standalone pieces, “I am a true believer in natural beauty, therefore I try not to use gems that have undergone treatment or that are synthetic. Although it is difficult at times to find untreated gems such as emeralds, I always make sure they are ones with minor oil”, the Singaporean designer, Mr Michael Koh adds.
Each of the pieces reveals layers of intricate details; the goldsmith’s ingenuity embracing the radiance of the gems; the apparent fragility of sculptural silhouettes becoming pure delicacy. Whatever Michael Koh’s imagination grasps, it becomes a piece of art, and with sources of inspiration so manifold the variety of themes in his output is impressive. From baroque symbols (eg angels), via architectural motifs to a riveting homage to flora, each creation is a journey. There is such a generosity in the amount detail for such a small scale- a jewel – that it has a lot in common with the most ravishing embroidery work or miniature painting.
The sheer volume of creation may also spellbind you; each one more phenomenal than the next is indeed one of the primary reactions to Caratell’s jewellery. Mr Michael Koh has such an outpouring of creativity that “…..after two decades in the jewellery industry, I have created many timeless pieces, however, I honestly only vaguely remember all of them. My wish would be to arrange a “reunion” of all the creations ever sold over the years, a kind consolidated single exhibition,” he explains.
The ‘Angel’ pendants from the Angel collection are exquisite trinkets that possess charm and a protective aura. The little angels play music instruments, which is most probably a way to connect with our hearts. Or take the Jade and Diamonds drop earrings, as all Caratell pieces it is a feat of both intricacy and delicacy. The carved jades are peppered with tiny precious blossoms. When you think Nature does it best, Caratell challenges this perception.
Even though the feat of both craftsmanship and artistry is inherent in each Caratell jewel, it is overwhelmingly apparent in the impressionist collection: where, and in keeping with Michael Koh’s philosophy, it is a case of paying tribute to Art by creating Art. Having selected three great artists (namely Monet, Picasso in his cubist phase, and Van Gogh), the Caratell designer has rendered in precious form an interpretation of some of their works. The result is sensational: sinuous or angular lines that recall the brush of the painter, and bursts of vivid or delicate hues like oil on canvas. Michael Koh may truly be a calligrapher of modern tales as all his jewellery bears a pictorial quality.
Together with his wife and since 2002, they toyed with the idea of creating Caratell. Eventually It was launched in 2004. “At that time, we felt that the Singapore market was lacking bespoke jewellery. Although it is a niche field, we fit in perfectly into this category as I already had my own workshop and both of us were trained designers”, Michael Koh explains.