Nature provides inspiration

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am

Available in diverse colours and of varying degrees of translucency, jadeite lends itself well to trendy designs that complement outfits for different occasions.

A bold mix of colours is the main design theme for this autumn and winter. Apart from the best-known green colour, jadeite is available in other colours, including black, white, yellow, lavender and red. While combining black and white jadeite provides a sharp contrast, local designers have also created bursts of colour by mixing different jade colours with gemstones into a single design.

Designers tend to favour bold and extravagant jadeite designs. Nature is the main source of inspiration and designers have come up with myriad interpretations of flora and fauna. They have also added a new dimension to the nature theme by introducing jadeite designs in asymmetrical shapes and organic forms.

Designers have embraced a renewed sensitivity to Chinese aesthetics. The latest designs incorporate stylised traditional Chinese motifs or antique pieces that have been reworked for a modern look.

Renowned designer and retailer Edward Chiu sets the trend in bold multicoloured combination. Among his latest designs is a one-of-a-kind brooch in a floral design that mixes jadeite pieces in black, white, and green with faceted yellow ametrine (a cross between amethyst and citrine). In other pieces, Chiu combines lavender jadeite with rubies, accented with black jadeite. Alain Evrard, director of the company, describes them as 'youthful looking, spring colours'.

At Baerjewels, designer Peter Baer plays with the colour contrast of golden yellow and black. One of his rings has a golden jadeite cabochon (a dome-shape piece) mounted on a black diamond-studded bezel in blackened gold.

Apart from sharp contrast, Baer goes for complementary colours. A Baerjewels' pendant features an antique carved jadeite disc in dark mottled green surrounded by opaque aquamarine cabochons. The greyish blue of the aquamarine subtly complements the dark green jadeite.

The strong colour of jadeite is complemented by the subtle lustre of pearls. A pair of opulent dangling earrings from Chiu features mottled green jadeite designs mixed with Tahitian pearls. The addition of rubies adds grandeur.

Nature is the inspiration for Chiu's designs, mixing pearls and jadeite in multicolours. His interpretation of a chirping bird is rendered in a brooch featuring irregular-shaped South Sea keshi pearls with details styled in black and white jadeite.

The Samuel Kung brand, best known for unconventional designs that mix eastern and western influences, presents a classic, extravagant necklace featuring a green jadeite cabochon pendant suspended by a strand of pistachio-coloured Tahitian pearls.

While consumer interest is growing for jadeite in other colours, green is still the most highly prized.

Baer fashions green jadeite with high translucency into geometric shapes 'for dramatic effect' he said. He distills his designs down to their essence - pure clean lines - to highlight the colour.

His bold rectangular jadeite slabs are set in 18-carat white gold with white diamonds.

For an interesting play of colour between jadeite and metal, Kung mounts his high-end 'icy-type' green jadeite pieces in titanium in a muted metallic colour.

Jadeite jewellery has been modernised but retains Chinese aesthetics, Samuel Kung, owner of the eponymous retailer said. 'It is a reassertion of the Chinese identity and cultural heritage.'

One of Kung's latest designs features golden and red jadeite pendants with cut-out Chinese characters in the style of a company seal as well as stylized cloud and dragon motifs.

The pendants have intricate white-gold art deco-style details with micro-set white diamonds. His subtle reference to the theme of nature is seen in the organic, wavy forms and irregular shapes of these pendants.

They follow the contours of the original rough stones. 'We want to enhance the natural beauty of jadeite by minimising the embellishment [and processing],' Kung said.

Baer interprets the interest in Chinese arts through his 'Chinese Ink' collection. The rectangular translucent pieces in the collection feature white specks that remind people of Chinese ink paintings. He accentuates them with black diamonds.

The increasing influence of Chinese arts in jadeite design is also driven by consumers.

An increasing number of young customers have asked designers to help modernise their family heirloom jadeite pieces. The results are a surprising mix of Chinese and western aesthetics with a certain degree of playfulness.

Baer, for example, has reworked a pair of doughnut-shaped pale green jadeite pieces into earrings and playfully put a pair of matching green chilli on top of them.

He has also modernised a piece of carved green jadeite in the traditional Chinese design of a monkey holding a peach by mounting it on a peach-shape pendant studded with pink and yellow sapphires in graduated shades.

Chiu gives a modern twist to intricately carved jadeite in traditional Chinese designs, such as the Buddha, by framing them in black jadeite accented with diamonds.