Renaissance of Chinese Imperial jewelry. In Chinese culture, the 熙 character (pronounced C) represents light, prosperity and good fortune. The logo of C has three meanings: Firstly, the design comes from the two-headed dragon of Longshan culture; the dragon represents self-improvement; Secondly, the dragon embodies the former imperial family, in line with the mission of C to revive imperial jewelry craftsmanship; Thirdly, C is also the initial of Chinese.
Since 2005, the team of C has invested a lot of effort and capital, with several traditional craftsmen, for the revival of traditional skills, from traditional manual tools, to the development of metalworking welding formulas, to mastering techniques of gold working.
The creation of Chinese royal jewelry requests different tools. There are nearly 100 types of manual tools for gold engraving, weaving, texture and wire drawing. At that time, there were only copper wire draw plates with a diameter of 0.8mm, whereas the standard of Chinese royal gold wire is 0.2mm. So the team of C spent more than 3 months to manufacture wire drawing tools to create a draw plate with a diameter of 0.1 mm, a sixth of a hair, which has been praised by professionals. Up to now, the revival of tools for gold engraving, weaving and texturing is an on-going mission.
The filigree mosaic is a Chinese imperial classical skill. The gold wires of 0.2 mm diameter must be spliced into a filament, then stacked, braided, and firmly molded by welding. The traditional gold wire technique demands a high temperature welding while keeping the textures and curves. It requires a very specific solder, which has been lost for a long time. In addition, the old filaments were made of 22K soft gold, easy to deform and unsustainable. So the quality of the jewelry had to adapted to our contemporary way of life. Faithful to its mission, the team of C after hundreds of sleepless nights finally managed to recreate the appropriate solder.
In accordance with the standards of ancient royal workshops of the Qing Dynasty, Ms Ruan has established her own atelier. Apart from the transmission of traditional craftsmanship, her team also works with the latest techniques, such as micro-inlay, mixed veneer and wax engraving, mixing them with the ancient skills. In the C workshop, the royal art of fine gold gets infused with the vitality of our modern world.
In 2007, C recreated the Golden Wire Crown of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty, which is the ultimate example of filigree mosaic. The gold crown weighs only 826 grams. It is made with 518 gold threads of 0.2 mm in diameter. Not only is the pattern totally uniform, but there is not a single joint or broken wire. The embossed dragon, as if still alive, was made from convex gold engraving and its scales are in filigree mosaic. This work is considered by professionals as a Museum piece which would have been impossible to recreate a few years back.
In our modern civilization characterized by openness and fusion of Chinese and Western culture, it is essential for artistic jewelry to preserve and pass on traditional skills, while expressing the emotions of contemporary people.
With traditional aesthetics as a starting point, and inspiration from other fields such as classical literature, painting, philosophy, architecture, etc. and in collaboration with Asian jewelry designers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, C has never ceased to create in the last ten years in a spirit of openness.
In order to present the excellence the pinnacle of Chinese imperial jewelry craftsmanship and aesthetics of the imperial dynasties, to present its humanist vision and the work of contemporary Chinese craftsmen, and to promote cultural and artistic exchanges between China and France, C – The Art of Chinese Imperial Jewelry has chosen to organize the exhibition “Renaissance of Chinese Imperial Jewelry” in Paris.
The exhibition consists in three parts and presents 108 pieces.
The first part includes several 1000-year-old pieces of jewelery from prestigious imperial dynasties.
The second part presents the contemporary creations of C – The Art of Chinese Imperial Jewelry created during the last 14 years, which symbolize the most its values of craftsmanship, aesthetics and creativity.
The third part consists of three artistic collections of C : “A Moonlit Night on the Spring River”, 2016 – “The Uncomparable Beauty of the Goddess of Water”, 2017 – “Gardians – Twelve Signs of the Zodiac”, 2018.
All pieces of jewelry are made in accordance with the standards of the former Chinese imperial workshop and thanks to artisans who have revived the ancestral know-how. While using the eight traditional techniques of Chinese high jewelry, namely tweezing, filling, joining, welding, stacking, layering, weaving and braiding, C has also incorporated the most recent techniques, such as micro-inlay, mixed veneer and waxing in its traditional process, so that the art of royal gold revives in our time.