Uratemas is the brainchild of award-winning jewellery/product designer and artisan, Kevin "K" Lu Zixian.
Meaning “Veins of Gold” in Malay and Indonesian, Uratemas explores the tension between nature & urbanization - and between the secular & spiritual - via the intermarriage of sustainable natural materials with contemporary versions of precious historical alloys, interpreted into striking silhouettes that are primal and distinct, yet intuitively universal.
Materials are largely sourced from the region of tropical South-East Asia, and many are specially chosen for their corresponding natural & cultural heritage; deep-rooted connections to local animistic beliefs & practices, ways of respecting nature, and their various sacred and spiritual properties.
Kevin "K" Lu is an award-winning jewellery designer with over 20 years of behind-the-scenes experience working for various jewellery companies both large and small.
Born under unlikely circumstances in the tropical island of Singapore, K is deeply steeped in the prevailing intersectionality of the "Nusantara" - between its various cultures, the ancient & the modern, the tribal & the urban, and also between nature and technology.
An Old-Javanese term for "Outer Islands", Nusantara is the historical Malay/Indonesian term for Maritime Southeast Asia, an archipelago of tropical islands - also sometimes known as the "East Indies" - and in this context includes the nations of Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Singapore.
The region's historical significance as a trade route has seen much intermingling between the various indigenous Austronesian cultures with more global influences, creating a vibrantly diverse ecosystem of cultures that are nevertheless in a constant state of flux, like the sea upon its myriad shores.
"Jewels of Radical Nature"
Uratemas takes Nature seriously; by integrating its elements directly into the creation of every piece, jewellery by Uratemas is not merely "inspired" by Nature, but co-created by it.
Sacred woods and natural tree branches - even bones - are adorned with gems and ancient, sacred metal alloys to mediums by which Nature itself effects a direct confrontation with human beings, and tangibly responds to a wearer's care and diligence - as if each piece were truly alive.
Uratemas strives whenever possible to procure jewellery materials that are not only sustainable & natural, but have distinct and unique connections to the diverse natural and cultural heritage of the Nusantara.
Some of these materials might be native to the region and found nowhere else in the world; others may simply be so synonymous with Tropical Asian cultures that they become unmistakable - either way, this heavy dependence on culturally-significant materials shapes the Uratemas aesthetic into forms that suggest a vague familiarity, and yet remain undeniably unique.
Often carrying the nickname "Sultan's Gold", true Suasa is an ancient, rose-hued alloy of several different metals. Its alchemy precedes modern standards of processing precious metal, but its formula always includes a notable fraction of Gold.
Much like Tibetan "Seven-Metal" Bronze, mystic properties are also ascribed to Suasa. Often used to embellish the ceremonial tools and weapons of Malay and Indonesian royalty, it is believed that the alloy repelled evil and ensured the tools it adorned were put only to noble use.
Uratemas' Suasa conforms to contemporary international standards for 9K gold - a guarantee of at least 37.5% gold content within the alloy.
An Arabic term meaning “roots of the sea”, Akar Bahar is often conflated with the Antipathes genus of deep-sea hard coral, but is more typically the underwater branches of mangrove trees growing in brackish waters near the sea-shore.
Fresh out of the water, their branches are flexible when wet and can be reshaped into forms that wear well on the human body before they eventually harden. With proper care, they can last for centuries, and are often inherited by successive generations as conduits for ancestral wisdom and power.
The coaxing of Akar Bahar branches into wearable form requires sea-water and patience; it is a meditative exercise in balance between imposing upon Nature, and yielding to it.
Dalbergia latifolia, Indian Rosewood.
The term "Sonokeling" refers specifically to Indian Rosewood that hails from Indonesia. Like other fabled trees such as Sandalwood and Cedar, it has its own distinctive scent and hard-wearing beauty, which sees its use in anything from furniture to tool handles - and accessories.
Often associated with healing powers and matters of intuition and the heart, the harvesting of rosewood is sustainable in theory, but production should nevertheless be mindfully paced, to ensure usage does not outstrip replenishment.