Industry Leader

Jiayueh Choong (left) and Dr Jezamine Lim Iskander. Photo: THE STAR/Azman Ghani

Gemstones have always been a part of Jiayueh Choong’s life. The certified graduate gemologist grew up tagging along with her father as he purchased gemstones for the family business.

“When I studied gemology later on, I realised that it was almost instinctive for me to recognise which grades gems were top quality, having seen those specific hues and cuts traded on the table as a child,” says Choong, who is now the communications and design director for DeGem.

Upon graduating with a degree in communications and economics, she landed a job in a custom design jewellery store in Melbourne, Australia, where she learned the basics of sales and employed her drawing skills to designing engagement rings for customers.

“I found that it was a fulfilling calling, as the joy of customers receiving their personalised jewellery was a rewarding experience,” relates Choong, who is expecting her first child.

Today, that passion for spreading joy through jewellery is as strong as ever, as she expands her experience within the company.

From being on the sales floor and meeting customers, to managing marketing and design plans to designing and visiting the brand’s factory to follow up on new designs, Choong’s roles in the company are varied.

“When I’m at my desk, I would be drafting educational articles and insider knowledge pieces for marketing. There is a treasure trove of specialist knowledge that we are always excited to share with customers and potential clients,” explains Choong.

A stunning pair of earrings from the DNA collection, which is made up of brilliant futuristic diamond jewellery.A stunning pair of earrings from the DNA collection, which is made up of brilliant futuristic diamond jewellery.

It sounds like hard work, but Choong is mastering the art of wearing many hats, and she finds the working of the business rewarding.

She is thrilled when customers show appreciation for their jewellery designs, and are often pleasantly surprised by how fair their prices are.

“Wearing jewellery is a personal experience, and I love to style ladies with pieces that bring out the best aspects of their personality, be it soft and minimal, or bold and captivating. It’s also enjoyable for me to recommend to men the right diamond engagement ring for their partners, based on stories of their relationship,” she adds.

Part of the job involves facing up to the changing landscape of the industry, and educating the public on distinguishing between the real and the fake, as well as high quality versus shabby craftsmanship.

“For gemstones, we are the market expert for it and have gem aficionados who we enjoy advising. For the rest of the population, the challenge is to continually educate them that compared to diamonds, natural gemstones have a bigger potential for value growth. For the last five to 10 years alone, the value of coloured gems has soared exponentially,” says Choong.

DeGem’s DNA collection includes these captivating bracelets.DeGem’s DNA collection includes these captivating bracelets.

The diamond industry is constantly battling widespread misinformation, with unethical parties taking advantage of buyers.

“To counter this, we are constantly equipping our customers with the right know-how, what questions to ask sellers, with the goal to empower them to distinguish between quality of diamonds, design, and craftsmanship. Some sellers may push for customers to buy based on certificates only, but not all diamonds are the same quality.

“For DeGem, due to our scale of business and reliable track record for 40 years, we have priority access to first pick of prime goods with diamond miners and cutters, before they are then passed down to other sellers,” explains Choong.

A collection with a human connection

On the day of our interview and photo shoot with personality Dr Jezamine Lim Iskander, Choong brought out their latest collection, inspired by the human genome.

The DNA collection, made up of brilliant futuristic diamond jewellery, represents human resilience, strength, and ultimately celebrates our unique individuality – “empowering you to be you, the one and only you”.

“Our jewellery design team conceived the idea for this DNA collection at the start of the pandemic. We loved the idea as it felt close to home, in times of adversity we need to remember what makes us strong and resilient,” explains Choong.

Pieces in the collection are made up of materials including 18K white gold and rose gold, and contrasting superior cut brilliant diamonds in round, baguette, pear and marquise shapes.

DeGem’s DNA collection includes these captivating bracelets.DeGem’s DNA collection includes these captivating bracelets.

“The process took in total about 10 months to complete, as we took at least four to five rounds of revision for each piece, to get 360 degree effect engineered to perfection – to move in the best way for maximum visual impact,” says Choong.

“We also needed to ensure the curvature of the pieces were in the right comfortable angles, for a real active modern woman to wear for effortless movement".

“When we made this I thought it would look gorgeous only for a formal dinner, but you’ll be surprised to find that it goes remarkably well with a neat sundress for a daytime look, giving it the extra glam touch you need. It’s also a pretty apt symbol of Dr Jezamine’s profession as an expert in stem cells and tissue engineering!”

Many mark life’s milestones with jewellery, whether the purchase is for you or a loved one, be it your partner, parents, or child.

To Choong, a lot of thought goes into the selection of jewellery, and many clients have important factors to consider before deciding on the perfect piece.

For Dr Jezamine, who enters the second decade of her marriage to comedian Harith Iskander, Choong thinks that the elegant diamond earrings from their DNA collection frame her face perfectly.

“Our DeGem DNA earrings play with contrasting shapes of pear and round shape superior cut diamonds, in the swirling motif of a double helix in white and rose gold. For casual a look, the DeGem DNA bracelet has a mesmerising golden swirl that swivels with every turn of her wrist, showing off beautiful sparkles of natural diamonds in round and baguette shapes. It’s a modern classic for the multi-faceted active woman."

For more information, visit

Photos: AZMAN GHANI/The Star, Dr Jezamine’s hair and makeup: ANITA TANG/A Cut Above, Jewellery: DeGem

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