Inspired By Africa, Marilyn Tan Launches Her Latest Ethiopian 2 Collection
Accomplished designer Marilyn Tan’s eponymous jewellery label, Marilyn Tan Jewellery launches its new handcrafted limited edition Ethiopian 2 collection at her intimate Tiong Bahru atelier. The new collection continues from the first one, which launched in 2017, and features five main unique design lines: ID Marks and Tim Kat—both reinventions from the previous collection—as well as the new Mountain, Opals and Crosses lines. The collection also debuted an exclusive capsule line, Sunset, featuring semi-precious stones such as lime quartz crystal and Ethiopian opals. These design lines are dedicated to the sights and sounds experienced by Marilyn during her journey to Ethiopia in 2017.
After creating the first Ethiopian collection, Marilyn continued to feel inspired by the sense of sheer vastness she felt while travelling through different regions of Ethiopia, and knew that there was more of the story that needed to be told.
In the Ethiopian 2 collection, her inspirations include the geometric lines of the Obelisk of Axum that marks the centre of Ethiopia’s ancient Axumite Empire and the bronze identity marks in the National Museum of Ethiopia; woodwork designs unique to rural Ethiopia; the white shawls, signifying purity, worn by locals at the annual Tim Kat—Ethiopia’s biggest religious festival—at the break of dawn; and the terrain of the Simien National Park.
Each design line draws inspiration from artefacts, landmarks or an event. The influences of the Obelisk of Axum and ancient bronze identity marks are reimagined in the lines and form of the pieces in the ID Marks line. Featuring bold, abstract forms, this line is Marilyn Tan’s tribute to female strength and courage, inspired by four Ethiopian sisters who opened a restaurant, the Four Sisters Restaurant in Gondar—a rarity in the male-oriented culture of Ethiopia.
The Mountain line captures the colours of the sparse flowering that occurs across the mostly barren mountains of Simien National Park and Lasta Mountains in Lalibela. The base of the jewellery is created with solid “original gold”—which possesses a natural brown patina—to represent these vast brown ranges. Semi-precious stones such as garnet and moonstone are set in the “original gold” to emulate the mountains and sky, and crafted into earrings and rings.
The Tim Kat line interprets the scene of the yearly religious festival for the celebration of Epiphany into contrasting black-and-white necklaces and earrings—using white jade and silver plated with black rhodium. The line pays homage to the spectacle of hundreds of locals garbed in traditional white shawls as they gather every year at dawn around the remains of Fasilides Castle in the city of Gondor.
The Crosses line distinctively embodies Ethiopia’s religious spirit with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church being one of the oldest in Christendom. The designs are taken from the Ethiopian Christianity crosses, which symbolise the faith according to different regions of Ethiopia. Typically made using complex latticework and piercework, these crosses further portray the Ethiopians’ proficiency in smithing. The Crosses line uses 18K gold vermeil to recreate necklace inspired by the original Ethiopian crosses.
The Opals line highlights Ethiopian white opals, prized for their rare red iridescence, found in the mines in the region of Welo. These opals were personally sourced by Marilyn, and set in solid “original gold” into earrings and rings.
The special Sunset series encapsulates the spectacular sunsets throughout Ethiopia. The vibrant colours that bathe the landscape at evening twilight are evoked in the opals on this statement necklace and earrings.
Entirely handcrafted, every piece is one-of-a-kind and limited pieces have been created in each specific model with bespoke orders available on request. The collection ranges from SGD129 to SGD5,800.