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When celebrating your birthday, the last thing you’d expect is for a family disaster to happen. But that’s exactly what happened to Andrew Lim when he hit the big 3-0. 

After returning with his friends from an escape room game, he found close to 30 missed calls and text messages from his mum and sisters. Something had happened to his dad, something was wrong with his heart.

As he rushed to the hospital, there was only one recurring thought in his head—”What if I were to lose my dad today?” 

Thankfully, Andrew hasn’t had to worry about that yet. His dad’s doing just fine following a few medical procedures.

Andrew with his dad, someone who frequently goes scuba diving with him and runs marathons / Image Credit: Apart.sg

However, the question still persists. Nobody lives forever and he will eventually go someday, so then what?

This drove Andrew down a rabbit hole. He started researching options for keepsake jewelleries, a way to always have a part of his dad by his side wherever he goes. Particularly during times when he’d travel to scuba dive overseas. 

Nothing he found was satisfying. The designs were limited mostly to women and had a commercial feel to them. None of them seemed to provide any assurance that the ashes passed to them have gone into the jewellery.

That left him with no choice but to start Apart.sg to rectify the situation.

Image Credit: Apart.sg

A beautiful coping mechanism

A one-man show, Apart.sg began as a personal project to help others cope with grief. Andrew himself was invested in the idea and figured there were surely others looking for such a service.

With no prior knowledge or silversmithing skills, he took some time out of his photography career to research the craft. The more he learnt about it, the more he fell in love with creating jewellery.

Months were spent on R&D to ensure he had the necessary expertise to run the business, including seeking help from industry professionals. To practise, he used chicken bones to work on the jewellery design concept since there weren’t any ashes to spare.

For context, keepsake jewelleries are memorabilia accessories designed to hold a small item of sentimental value. This could be a lock of hair or fur, a piece of fabric, or more commonly, cremated ashes.

Image Credit: Apart.sg

Andrew’s brand currently offers an array of keepsake jewelleries such as rings, necklaces, and bracelets. If you’re looking for a custom design, that can be arranged as well. Do note that this can be quite costly depending on the design and materials required.

Most of them are made with S925 sterling silver, though they also have rose gold jewellery as well. Many of the clients he’s worked with mentioned wanting these jewellery pieces to become family heirlooms.

As such, their material of choice is 18K rose gold as they’re more resistant against tarnish and therefore more durable. Apart.sg’s catalogue at the time of writing starts from SG$189.

Andrew employs several different methods to create his designs. For example, Apart.sg’s rings have a groove in the middle where he will layer ashes then top them with crushed opals for some sparkle.

Image Credit: Apart.sg

As for the others, there would generally be a slot in the middle of the jewellery pieces to store the compact ashes. Then either opal, mother of pearl, or powdered pearl is blanketed on the top.

Making sure it’s personal

Regardless of the kind of jewellery chosen, Andrew has made it a point since day one to document the process. This gives clients peace of mind knowing that these keepsakes actually contain essences of their loved ones. 

One way he does this is by scheduling a one-on-one consultation with each client at his home-cum-office. Doing this allows customers to see and wear the jewellery in person before placing an order. 

Additionally, clients can see for themselves how the founder and jewellery-maker handles their sentimental items. 

Andrew’s documentation and ring-making process / Image Credit: Apart.sg

His usual practice is to label the jewellery that’s been tried on with an order number, and store it together with the items. The documentation process clearly shows the labels as well, so there won’t be any mix-ups or careless handling of the precious remains.

“I believe that pieces like these need a little personal touch,” Andrew shared. “Going the extra mile to meet all clients and invite them here (my home) goes a long way, especially during such sensitive times.”

It’s also for this reason that he’s not keen on receiving sentimental items through mail or shipping. He highly encourages clients to visit the store so that they go through fewer hands.

De-stigmatising the taboo of death

Image Credit: Apart.sg

“Many of my clients don’t know what to do when their loved one has passed. If the logistics itself isn’t even known, what about the emotional aspect of things? How do we cope with loss?” he stated.

These keepsakes serve as a subtle remembrance of loved ones. Having a tangible item can evoke feelings of closeness and comfort, as well as be a source of solace during the mourning process. 

It can also become a conversation starter for people to share fond stories and memories of the departed. Thus, fostering connections with others to help build a support system in this time of need.

This is essentially everything that the brand stands for: a means of providing comfort and a way to let the memories of loved ones live on.

Image Credit: Apart.sg

Looking at it through a wider lens, Andrew’s hope is that the jewellery he creates will encourage Singaporeans to discuss death more openly. 

“It definitely isn’t enough [to de-stigmatise the taboo of death in Asian cultures], but it is a start,” he stated. Though small, his creations seem like a step in the right direction.

  • Learn more about Apart.sg here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Singaporean startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Apart.sg

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)