Since establishing my own high jewellery brand, Nuò by Cindy Yeung, one request has always stayed with me. As chairwoman and CEO of Emperor Watch and Jewellery, one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious retailers, founded by my grandfather in 1942, I’ve been able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most extraordinary gemstones and jewellery designs. But when a well-dressed French lady came to see me at my Central boutique about sourcing three beautiful pieces of fei cui jade eight years ago, I was especially moved by the reasons behind her commission.
We Chinese call jade the “stone of heaven” and for very good reason. The Chinese word for jade also means “precious stone” and it’s a jewel that has been worn by the region’s nobility for centuries. But you don’t have to be from Asia to love jade. This lady had three daughters and wanted to design three identical jade-set pendants for each of them as a declaration of her unconditional love and support. As a mother of three myself, I found it incredibly touching that she wanted to give such a thoughtful and personal gift to her children.
One of the most common misconceptions about jade is that it’s always green. It can be white or combined with other minerals for colours that range from lavender to yellow and even black. Personally, I love the more traditional emerald-coloured Imperial jade, and so did this lady. It polishes into a gorgeous gloss and its smooth touch is matched by few other stones. She wanted a carved block of transparent apple green-coloured natural fei cui set into a timeless pendant design, specially lengthened so that the stones would rest on each of her daughter’s hearts. She had already sourced one and wanted me to find two additional identical jewels for her other two daughters. Sounds easy enough, right?
Wrong. The truth is jade is unique and increasingly rare. After three months of scouring auction sites and jade mines from all over the world—Myanmar, China, India—we had sourced about 30 pieces of jade, none of which matched her requirements. In the end, it took nine months to find the right rough stones, which we sent to our Hong Kong-based factory for cutting, polishing and gem-setting.
The whole process was fascinating, and I learned a lot as a result. It was also very special for me to be involved in such a personal commission. It’s important to me that my jewellery is relevant internationally, despite being heavily influenced by my Chinese culture. After ten years of living in Hong Kong, the client and her children moved back to France and took their
little slices of Asia back with them. She continues to message me and wants to design something for herself next. I can’t wait to find out what she has in mind.
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