Mad About Madly Gems

Janiqueel and JKJ visit a unique gem shop in Tiong Bahru learning about a world of sparkle, color, design, and creativity.

These gems have life in them:  their colors speak, say what words fail of.  

~George Eliot

I must admit my knowledge of gems and was a tad on the weak side. My companion, freelance writer, JKJ, knew even less – a familiar paradigm. Our collective lack of knowledge notwithstanding, we enthusiastically accepted a kind invitation from Maddy Barber, founder of MADLY, to visit her cozy, comfortable shop on a quiet street of Tiong Bahru. If you plan a visit, don’t bother looking for a sign above the door. Visits are by appointment only which typifies the personal nature of Madly Gem’s business aura.

“We want our bespoke creations to be unique works of art inspired by individual.” ( One doesn’t just walk in, choose a piece and walk out. One offer is a creative process intimately built around the client’s particular wishes and aesthetic sensibilities. Maddy Barber founded the business with one designer and herself. Now in a more spacious shop which feels more like a comfortable drawing room than a store, she works with a small team of designers. The shop space is soon to be renovated to better utilize space and provide an even more welcoming setting for clients. Little advertising beyond word-of-mouth and online both local and international ensures that the experience of choosing, fitting, and designing is tailor-made to the individual. Expect the process to take 6-8 weeks from the initial visit to the proud first wearing.

We watched as award-winning designer, Renee, drew intricate ring settings in front of our very eyes. Her drawings, – life-sized – were worthy of displaying themselves. The team at Madly consults with the prospective clients determining 1) what stone is desired; 2) budget for the stone and setting; 3) design drafting – usually three before the final selection is made. Some designers, we were taught, make rough sketches. At Madly, several perspectives give an overall impression of the final product.

I think the first step – choosing – would be the most challenging. Garnets, spinels, tourmalines, emeralds, and more await in sparkling boxes to inspire awe. Add to these stones an infinite variety of colors and cuttings and you have your challenge, my friend. Because we are talking bespoke jewelry, though, experts led by Maddy are there to help match one’s creativity and unique characteristics (think, skin color, for instance) to the right stone and setting. Should you already have a piece you might want to be emulated, it can be done with the proviso that the design would be, in some way, unique to Madly and would carry their imprimatur.

Rings are the most requested items followed by earrings – Maddy’s were to die for, thought I – and pendants.

What a sparkling, intriguing world JKJ and I found! Full of questions at first, we emerged better educated into the world of gems and bespoke jewelry than we could have imagined.

By appointment only:


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I love ‘Birthday Rings’. They are coming of age presents you gift to yourself in celebration of YOUR tale thus far. A gift YOU choose for YOURSELF worn as a declaration of independence and more importantly, self-love. ❤️ As I turn 45, I wanted my birthday ring to be a four stone ring – an ode to my family of four who has, is and always will be my pillar of strength (thus, a tower of a ring) and comfort (pastel palette). The art deco-inspired sunrise motif proclaims wondrous new beginnings, heralds of blessings, eternal sunshine and my love for Art Deco with a modern twist! 🌸 This ring doesn’t just reflect my hopes and dreams, but also of those around me. To my awesome #teamMadly and lil’ Hae Hae who dreamt up this design with me, your art is a reflection of whats inside of you and that which is joyful, pure, bright and golden. This is MY infinity ring and power is in MY hands! 👊

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