Confident and stylish

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Strong, independent and provocative: These words best describe Lynn Ban’s jewellery and the individual who wears them

New York-based Singaporean Lynn Ban is behind a fashion fine jewellery collection that strikes an effortless balance between sensuality and strength. Her singular perspective shows in the unexpected point of contact with the body, the flirtation between light and darkness, the subversive attitude.

Eight-time Grammy award-winning pop star Rihanna, who was her first celebrity client, wore a Lynn Ban cuff during a performance on American Idol 2012. Ban has also designed custom pieces for three of Rihanna’s tours.

Music icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Madonna will be rocking the stage wearing Ban’s star earrings during her global Rebel Heart Tour, which kicked off on Sept 9.

Ban says, “My collection is known for its strong sculptural statement pieces but with this rough and raw edge. We’ve been fortunate to work with the artists and that really inspired me to create something unique and not seen or normally associated with fine jewellery.”

Her jewellery line carries an intrinsic irreverence. Merging timeless symbolism and modern invention, the collection simultaneously intrigues and provokes, and the items become instant conversation pieces at any event.

Ban working with diamonds sourced from “conflict-free” producers. “My work, whether visually or conceptually, is always about the black and white, that kind of contradiction that works together,” she says, citing designers such as Rick Owens and Azzedine Alaïa as inspirations.

Using rarefied materials, Ban balances opulence and restraint to harness the seductive allure of precious metals, brilliant diamonds and vivid gemstones. Worn as statement pieces or in modular- style combinations, the lush organic forms and stark graphic lines reveal an inherent duality.

Her design inspirations include Bauhaus, Pop Art and rock ’n’ roll. She finds the sculptural beauty of torn metal juxtaposed with the pavé diamond wound very sensual and strong, as seen in the sterling silver and red garnet Gash Cuff that was inspired by the idea of a medieval knight’s armour being penetrable. Another piece that stands out is the black rhodium silver and grey diamond Eye Ring, which is inspired by the image of the "eye of God" or the "all-seeing eye" at the back of a US dollar note.

Jewellery with attitude
Ban moved from Singapore to New York at the age of four in 1976 when her banker father was relocated there. The next few years saw her family moving to Hong Kong and then back to New York before returning to Singapore in 1987. She studied art history and literature at Cornell and New York University after graduating from the Singapore American School in 1989. She has been based in New York since 1993.

“When I graduated from college, I started working in fashion. I had a vintage couture line at Barney’s. So, I would source vintage Chanel, Valentino, St Lauren starting from the 1960s onwards and I had the collection at Barney’s for eight years,” says Ban, who also studied art history for two years at Paris-Sorbonne University. “I always had an interest in jewellery and making my own pieces, and I decided to make a small collection.”

In 2011, Ban produced 10 pieces. She reckoned that if nobody liked any of it, she would have 10 pieces of jewellery that she really liked and keep it. Her retail contacts during her vintage couture showings, including Barney’s, loved the pieces. Today, Ban’s collection is carried by selective boutiques in more than 17 countries, high-fashion online retailer Net-a-Porter and Club 21 in Singapore.

Two of her signature works are the Armour Ring (which she first did in sterling silver) and the Coil Ring (styled in multiples).

“I feel the signature of my jewellery is that it can be either very strong statements on its own (like the Armour Ring), or kind of stacked and styled and layered (like the Coil Ring). So, it can be interpreted in different ways according to the person wearing it.”

Her collaboration with Club 21 started in 2012. She has been travelling to Singapore for her annual exclusive trunk show that features around 100 pieces each time. “I’ve been fortunate to have a great client base here in Singapore. They’re very enthusiastic about the jewellery designs, and it’s wonderful to hear that I have collectors, too,” she enthuses.

Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, Doutzen Kroes, Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Jessica Parker have also worn Ban’s works.

“One of the most surprising celebrities that I found wore [my jewellery] was Jane Fonda. One of the stories I heard was she bought the Armour Ring and she wore it in LA. People have seen her wear it, so it could appeal across the board. It appeals to confident women,” says Ban.

Singapore-based Debbie Reyes-Coloma is a freelance feature and lifestyle writer for various publications in the region

This article appeared in the Options of Issue 695 (Sep 21) of The Edge Singapore.