Lawyer, art patron, and jewellery enthusiast Valerie Cheah talks about her love for diamonds and cultivating a relationship with jewellery brands
Valerie wears her own ZYDO jewellery
Valerie Cheah is one of those rare multi-hyphenates who seem to have life figured out. The lawyer-art gallery owner-art patron-mother of two (daughter Justine is 15, son Joel is 9) seems like she effortlessly juggles all these roles, all while dedicating even more time for the finer things in life. In the few hours we spent together, we talked and laughed about travel, food, and her current passion, qigong.
But when we told her that we were about to start the photo shoot, she suddenly became uncharacteristically apologetic. “I’m so sorry, I’m not used to doing such things,” she confessed.
Along with the photographer, we assured her that it’s fine and she’ll eventually get into the swing of things. True enough, as soon as she got changed, dolled up, and decked out in her fabulous diamond jewellery from ZYDO, her whole demeanour changed.
It seems like jewellery has some transformative power for you! Can you share what role jewellery plays in your life?
I guess because jewellery is so pretty and I can’t help but feel affection for it! With the line of work I am in, there are a lot of places I have to be – many dinners, galas, social events, art shows, and more. So depending on the event I go for, I choose the pieces that would be appropriate for it.
Did your interest in jewellery start at a young age?
I guess my first memories of jewellery came from my mum. She’s originally from Hong Kong and she loves jade. I used to see her put on beautiful pieces as she goes out for her dinners or for her social events. But, you know, when you are young, you don’t really appreciate jewellery as much. You just know it’s something pretty.
Valerie wears her own ZYDO jewellery
Now that you have a deeper appreciation for it, would you consider yourself more of a jewellery enthusiast or a collector?
I think I’m a jewellery enthusiast, not so much a collector. I’m not here looking out to buy the next statement piece. I acquire jewellery because it’s a beautiful thing and it complements what I wear. Of course, I know it’s also for good value.
Are you partial to any jewellery styles and gemstones?
I guess based on my collection, I’m not so much into coloured gems. I love white, brilliant diamonds. Once in a while, I will purchase jewellery with emeralds because they’re classic and very clean.
Jewellery as investment – what are your thoughts about this?
I guess one of the reasons why I don’t feel so guilty about acquiring these pretty pieces is because I have a daughter. So if I want to convince my husband about buying more, I’ll say, “It’s not just for me, Justine is going to acquire it one day.”
You could say that what I purchase has the potential to be heirloom pieces. But of course, I have a mixture of fun jewellery where I don’t think about the investment and a few pieces where I would have the certificate. One thing is for sure though – I don’t buy them for resale purposes. I buy it simply because I like it.
When it comes to jewellery brands, is there one that you are partial to?
I am partial to ZYDO, an Italian jewellery brand known for the diamonds they use. The first purchase from the brand was made in Singapore a few years ago when they had a private viewing. I went with some of my girlfriends and we had a great time trying on pieces and shopping. It was too hard to resist!
I love ZYDO’s signature stretchy jewellery, so I bought a stretch bracelet and stretch ring in rose gold, and I wear them to death. I am not the type of jewellery buyer who will purchase something and won’t wear it. For me, I will buy it because I know I can use it everyday. So right now, I buy a few whenever they are in town.
As a regular customer, I soon developed a relationship with the brand. So when I went to Milan for one of our family holidays, we decided to meet up with Jack Zybert, ZYDO’s CEO. He took us out for meals and we even met his parents and the rest of his family. We also happened to be in New York at the same time once, so we caught up for coffee. I like that our relationship is more like family now. Because of that, I always go to ZYDO whenever I want to buy jewellery – and this is something I tell all my friends.
For young people who are starting to consider buying more serious pieces of jewellery, can you share some words of wisdom?
Most of us are influenced by brand names because of the advertisements and the lifestyles they portray. I know there are young people out there who probably skimp on many things in order to save up for something expensive. For me, that’s not what I do. I buy something not because of the brand, but because I think it’s beautiful and of good quality.
This is something I can say about ZYDO’s jewellery. I buy from ZYDO not just because it’s pretty, I also take into consideration the fine workmanship, pricing, and of course, the deep trust I have in the people behind the brand. If you want to be smart about your purchase, go to a trustworthy person or company who has been in the industry for generations. I can tell you that ZYDO knows their diamonds and this is the real deal.
Photography by Chino Sardea
Makeup and hair by Nikki Fu, using Jung Seam Mool Beauty and Schwarzkopf Pro.