A year ago the art world was buzzing over one of the pearl treasures of China. The Emperor's Eastern Pearl Court Necklace (Chaozhu), incorporating 108 flawless natural freshwater pearls, gold, coral, and other gemstones, was sold for a staggering price of US$ 8.7 million at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. 134 cm long and with pearls measuring from 9.6 to 10.65 mm, this necklace belonged to the emperor Yongzheng from the 18th century Qing Dynasty.
The pearl court necklace, incorporating a Buddhist rosary design, had been introduced as a part of the official ceremonial dress by the Qing Dynasty in 1636.
The portrait of the Yongzheng emperor wearing formal court attire depicts him wearing almost identical, if not the same necklace as the one that has been auctioned. There are only five other known Eastern pearl chaozhu in China, all located in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The Eastern pearl necklace is considered to be of the highest cultural significance.
Inspired by the rare beauty I checked my collection of gemstones. See, I
smuggle bring the colourful bits from all over the world: pearls, jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise from Asia, malachite from Ural, amber from Latvia, corals from the Dominican Republic, crystals are available in abundance here in Switzerland. One must have a hobby, n’est pas?
The idea of making a Yongzheng-inspired piece was sitting in my head for a long while rather quietly. Until a few days ago Ralph Lauren presented his Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection in New York (no, unfortunately I didn’t watch it from the front row or backstage, I did it online, eating chips on the sofa; a nice option too: no need to splurge on a flight ticket and new boots).
Can you even believe it?...when everybody else is desperately waiting for spring, fashion designers are already looking forward to next winter, brrrr. Although I wouldn’t mind a three month winter extension if I got to wear one of Lauren’s pieces…
Photo: Gianni Pucci / GoRunway.com
Like Oscar de la Renta in his last collection and Marc Jacobs last season at Louis Vuitton, Lauren looked to the Orient for inspiration - China specifically. The models wore jade earrings and coral lips, red lacquered heels on the equally glossy runway. I can empathise :-). And I finally made my version of the Emperor’s pearl necklace and a pair of matching earrings. Thank you, Ralph.