Crazy Rich Asians

Inside story of the jewellery Crazy Rich Asians characters wore, and a US$2 million Victoria’s Secret bra

The fabulous earrings Gemma Chan’s character buys, the multi-strand necklace Michelle Yeoh’s matriarch wears, and more, were lent by Mouawad. Its director predicts the next big trend in diamonds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 9:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 7:11pm

When one of the production managers for Crazy Rich Asians came calling, asking to borrow jewels from Mouawad, the decision to get involved was a “no-brainer”.

Jean Nasr, managing director of Mouawad says: “It was a bestselling novel, we understood the concept of the movie so for us it was, ‘Yeah of course we would like our jewellery to be used’.”

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But while the family-owned company – Nasr is the great-grandson of founder David Mouawad – is known for its show- stopping creations, such as the annual Victoria’s Secret fantasy bra, it was the wearable pieces (relatively speaking) that made it to the big screen.

Some viewers may already know that the stunning pearl drop gem-encrusted earrings, bought by aristocratic Astrid Young (played by Gemma Chan) during a shopping spree, are made by Mouawad.

For younger consumers, coloured stones are making their mark
Jean Nasr

The jewellery makes a few other subtle cameo appearances during the film.

Take the one-of-a-kind multi-strand pearl, diamond, ruby and emerald necklace that formidable matriarch Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) wore over her green Diane Von Furstenberg top during the dumpling-making scene. The piece was later snapped up by a private collector, says Jean Nasr.

His daughter Jessica Nasr, Mouawad Singapore’s director of marketing and communications, adds: “A lot of extras in the movie were high-society ladies, including some of our clients, and during filming, they would tell us they saw some of our jewellery on set.

“So it was an organic collaboration in that sense.”

The benefits of remaining family-owned in an era of corporate conglomerates are manifold, say the father and daughter. It is not so much about having a job at the ready – both of them worked their way up the corporate ladder – but rather having the licence to invest in unique purchases.

For example, Mouawad holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive single pear-shaped diamond in the world, which weighs 101.84 carats and is worth US$12.76 million.

Jessica Nasr says: “If a big stone comes into the market, we might say even though it is not within the budget, it is a good purchase. These are decisions that the family has the flexibility to exercise.”

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As for jewellery that won’t ring up a seven-figure bill, there is the Leila pendant, as worn by Crazy Rich Asians tai tai Jacqueline Ling (Amy Cheng) during the Bible study scene. “[This style of dressing] is a reflection of the day-to-day in Asia,” says Jean Nasr of the 18K white gold pendant with diamonds and blue sapphires.

For real-life jewellery connoisseurs, the Leila collection, comprising a pendant, earrings and ring, will be flown to Singapore for the upcoming JeweLuxe festival from October 12 to 21. Prices range from S$10,000 to S$50,000 (US$7,200 to US$36,000). The event, which is open to the public, is an opportunity for shoppers to see works from more than 60 jewellery houses, heritage brands and independent designers, many of which do not have a retail presence in Singapore.

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Even for brands that have showrooms in Singapore, such as Mouawad, this is an opportunity to bring in a wider range of jewellery as well as stand-out pieces, such as the US$2 million Victoria’s Secret Champagne Nights Fantasy Bra, which took master artisans more than 350 hours to create.

As for tastes in jewellery, tourmalines, spinels and coloured diamonds are becoming more popular, says Jean Nasr.

“The older generation used to only want rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. But for younger consumers, coloured stones are making their mark,” he observes. “Fifty years ago, we used to cut white diamonds with black diamonds as nobody wanted to buy them, until some people started faceting the black gemstones. The contrast between black and white is so beautiful it became a craze.”

He predicts that green diamonds will be the next big thing. “Mark my words, they’re going to compete with pink and blue diamonds.”