Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Orchard Central

Not to be confused with Central Mall at Clarke Quay. This newly open vertical mall is 8 stories high and counting. At least level 8 was the last floor open with shops. There is a 12th floor that my mom and I didn't make it to, i.e. Not Open yet. Same thing with B2, not open yet. In case, you were wondering why the lift buttons don't work. It is tall, but lean, with only 2 rows of shops, it also qualifies as the narrowest mall in Singapore yet.

To make it's point, it has a statue of a skinny fashonista 4 stories high (see picture above). This mall does have a few notable features; a rock climbing wall on the 4th flr next to a cafe (see pic below). For $15, you can give it a go. They also have several outdoor areas for alfresco dining on the 8th to 12th floors. Not for those afraid of heights. These areas are serviced by an outdoor escalator with no safety windows. Quite a ride, definitely not for the inebriated.

The entire ground floor is lined with fountains and jewellery shops. My favourite line-up and the fastest way to burn through your bonus. Also love the large scrapbooking store on the 5th flr.

Fitness First

I am a gym junkie, I don't exercise any other way. I have had a gym membership for over a decade now. Starting with the school gym in my JC days then moving onto the first professional chain to open in Singapore The Ray Wilson California Fitness Center. They dropped the Ray Wilson (coz the guy sold out) after a couple of years. In between there were the Sports Council gyms, hotel gyms (near my office) and Planet Fitness. Then entered Fitness First and I became a loyal member.

Why I pay the premium? No queues at the machines or classes! That and they have extra perks like free workout gear when I check in, DVD rentals when I check out. Multiple studios, pool, magazines, personal trainers, sauna, free drinks station, spa and a lounge area. It's like a clubhouse for the price of gym membership.

Convenience is an added bonus as there is usually a branch in the same building I work in. More recently, they started selling affordable gear (e.g. socks for $7.50) along with juice and power bars. Power work-out during lunch hour anyone?

At night, I come here to work-out, de-stress and catch some TV before heading home.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

F1 Singapore 2009

Busy weekend in Singapore, with the F1 night races and inaugural F1 rocks concert. Did anyone take leave from work to take advantage of their all access season pass and concert tickets?

Lewis Hamilton is the star of the event. With pole position, a lead he held steadily in the race and came in 1st, no surprise there. Last year's winner Alonso came in 3rd this year. The race was a lot less exciting than last year. The safety cars came out only once, when the Kingfisher car crashed, splashing debris all over the track. 3 rounds to clear it up! 4 drivers droppped out of the race, including both RedBull drivers coz of gear and brake problems respectively. What a pity. Then there was the scandal ridden Renault team, who were dropped by their sponsers.

I caught the qualifiers and the actual race on TV. No party though, as there were no more tickets to the outdoor concert. No loss, as F1 Rocks will be televised as a special.

So I heard Lindsay Lohan is Nicole's replacement as host of F1 Rocks. With performances by the cantopop stars Amei & Jacky Cheung on Thursday, No Doubt and N.E.R.D. on Friday. Ending with Beyonce, ZZ Top & Black Eye Peas on Sat. Apart from sound system problems, I heard the concert was a blast. Can't wait to catch it on TV.

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Creepy Crawlies

Preparation for Halloween.

You can't deny the craftsmanship that goes into this piece of jewellery. It's the size of a miniature (1inch x 1.5inch) and fully 3-dimensional. I think it was made for a wildlife themed international jewellery exhibition. So it isn't bespoke and I didn't have to break the bank to buy it. Diamonds are pave set into a rose gold base, with a 0.3 carat diamond at it's mouth, followed by channel set baguette cut diamonds in a gold loop. Perfect for Halloween I think.

The jeweller also made a lizard with pink sapphires and blackened gold. It's convertible from a ring into 2 pendant designs. If you flip the lizard up, the foot rests on the diamond wreaths. When you flip the lizard down, the paw rests on the diamond wreaths. From the side view, the setting achieves a certain height as diamonds are set all around (top, left & right) to form the wreaths. Remarkable detailing with pink sapphires set on the base of the ring on both sides (see sharp pointed end).

Black gold is so edgy. Looking forward to it being used more.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

18K & 22K Gold

Gold is the most stable of all metals. Used to make jewellery, objects d'art and in ornamentation. It also has a practical purpose when coated onto fixtures, furnishings, cars and just about everything else to provide protection & a long lasting shine. More recently, I have tried gold facials where thin sheets of pure 24k gold are applied to the face to create a mask. The same type of gold foils are used to dress opulent desserts in Michelin starred restaurants. Buddhists offerings sometimes comprise of these to gold leaf the statues.

Pure gold is very soft and seldom used in large quantities on it's own. Jewellery are often made of 22k or 18k gold. 18k or 75% gold is the high lustre bright yellow gold we all recognize and greatly loved by the older generation. Although today's generation tries to avoid it, I managed to find quite a few distinctive pieces at the neighbourhood goldsmiths, that provide retro plastic heart shape cases with "Goodfish" pouches.

Perhaps the most obvious choice would be the Dragon Phoenix bangles and necklaces that the Chinese goldsmiths have refined to a high art; 3D detailing, sometimes with pearls, rubies and sapphires. These were the wedding standard for the bride-to-be, not so much these days. (picture above is of a Dragon Ring). Gold charms with a distinctively Chinese flavour of ingots, banners, abacus etc. Goddess of Mercy charm (see below) with miniature scriptures embossed on the opposite side.

Gold Bar

Gold prices dropped to all new lows a year ago. I had a lot more on my mind then, so I didn't take advantage of that investment opportunity. I tried to buy some pamp gold bars 6 mths ago and the jewellery shop aunties & uncles refused to part with their precious stock at market rate. So I tried again today where gold prices are around the same as before the crash @ 991.85.

Can you believe I found the cutest Credit Suisse 1gm bars. They stopped selling gold a couple of years ago, so this design is pretty much out of production. This particular neighbourhood gold shop still had a couple of CS 1gm bars leftover in their original yellowed sealed packs. Sorry, no bigger sizes available as they were probably sold out years ago. The shop even sells casings for the gold bars (to turn them into pendants etc) from $50 & above.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The birthstone for the month of November (my birthday month).

It is part of the quartz family and seldom found in untreated form. Treating the Citrine intensifies the colour to render it fit for jewellery. It took me some time to find the ring above; it's over 20 carats of a very light yellow, almost white, naturally formed, clear Citrine. The pendant above was a gift and I would think of better quality given it's more intense colour. How to certify if my gems are real?

Inspired by Nature

Nature inspired themes always make such beautiful jewellery. Above picture is an old pendant from my mother. A shiny white gold bamboo circle encasing it's matte white & yellow gold leaves. Featuring only 1 precious metal, it is at once simple yet elegant. Appealing with a distinctively oriental aesthetic.

A rose gold diamond and coloured gem pendant (picture above). A detailed rendering of a tree branch in Autumn. Surprisingly affordable as it is produced for the mass market by a local jewellery chain. It's amazing how the standard of locally made jewellery has risen.

A duo-coloured daisy ring. White gold and diamonds on 1 half and yellow gold on the other. The design makes it adjustable for any ring size.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Precious Coral

Precious coral is not your usual saltwater coral. Corallus Rubeus is a gem quality red or pink coral that is hacked and polished to form jewellery. Worn throughout the centuries as adornment, it is widely documented in portraits as early as 1400s: More recently, Black Coral and Gold Coral have been added under this umbrella term.

It's raw natural beauty is highly prized by lapidary enthusiasts as it presents endless possibilities to the mind in creating something new and beautiful. In the usual polished bead form, it resembles pearls (another organic gem). I would love to get a whole coral in a polished form. The golden coral from Hawaii is a fairly new and rare breed known for it's mystifying chatoyance.

It all very tropical. You can almost feel the island breeze brush past.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

JPOT by Jumbo

Met my friend for dinner at Jpot, the steamboat restaurant by Jumbo. It took over Wood Restaurant's space at Vivocity. The most delicious steamboat soups by far, offering laksa, bak kut teh, porridge, herbal and tomyam in individual pots (hygiene reasons).

To be expected, loads of fresh seafood from a Jumbo Restaurant. Everything's served on a bed of ice to keep it cool, Ribeye (Wagyu is available as well) & Kurobota Pork. Freshly made dim sum was also available from the a la carte menu.

We got a scenic view of Sentosa from our table.

Fried beancurd skin is their specialty. It's already cooked, so you just dip it in the soup.

Sauce bar in the middle of the restaurant! 15 different types of stuff to mix and match from freshly chopped chives, leeks, parsley to fish sauce and peanut butter.

My dipping sauce is vegetables in soy sauce, topped with chopped chilli padis.

They serve the shaved milk ice here! With fruits of the season, mango and nata de coco.


Jade encompasses Nephrite and Jadeitite. Nephrite is usually reserved for more intricate carving and only available in white, green and sometimes red-orange. Jadeitite is the rarer stone of the 2 and can be found in a wide variety of colours; blue, lavender-mauve, pink, and emerald-green. Emerald green being the preferred (Imperial) choice of the Chinese. It's also my favourite of the 2, as it exhibits a mirror-like finish after polishing.

I prefer white or Icy Jade pieces mainly because it's easy to match and more modern than the green or red-orange pieces my mom and grandmother prefer. My mom bought me both bangles above from China. Both have a consistent, natural colour but are cloudy. Transparent, vividly coloured jade is very ex, reserved solely for royalty and the rich.

Of course, Jade also presents itself in the many lapidary stores around the island. I bought the above Jade and Rose Quartz necklace from a hobbyist at almost cost price I think. A great stone to wear in our weather as it dissipates heat quickly.

Deep green jadeite from Tiffany & Co, Starfish by Elsa Peretti (picture above). She is my favourite Tiffany designer. I used to collect her silver necklaces in my JC days and am so glad that they made a bigger version in jade.

A sign of our times, this jewellery store sold me the above Burmese jade and diamonds gold ring at a fraction of the original price. Wish I had more available cash to take advantage of the situation.

Flower Ball Bow

I learnt how to make a new type of bow. $2 per pack of 14 from Daiso. Layers of coloured tracing paper are tied into a fan shape for you to fluff up into a flower ball.

Looks like the sculpture above at Vivocity?