Seven Traditional Crafting Techniques for China Luxury Jewelry

1.Beijing Enamel

Also known as ‘silver enamel,’ this technology flourished during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The Beijing Enamel process is typically used in silver jewelry-making, particularly in north China. Contemporary artists have taken up the Beijing Enamel process in recent years, managing to innovate by using it in new and interesting ways.

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2.Cloisonné

Cloisonné, also known as ‘copper wire enamel,’ is one of the most famous traditional crafts of China. The style’s production techniques matured during the Ming Dynasty’s Jingtai period (1449–57 CE), and it typically incorporates blue enamel glaze. Hence it’s known in Chinese as Jingtai blue. Cloisonné is one of the top traditional exports of China, and was seen in the courts of emperors throughout the imperial period. Nowadays, Cloisonné is undergoing a period of transition as more designers are using it in more modern designs.

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  1. Jade carving

It is acknowledged by the world that jade carving is one of the oldest carving arts in China. Jade is a high-quality stone and has a good many variants. There are white jade, yellow jade, jasper, jadeite, agate, turquoise, etc. Jade carving refers to the process to carve a piece of jade into a fine article of art. A carving artist has to thoroughly examine a piece of jade, cudgel his brains to make a design according to its natural colors and shape, and turn it into an artistic work. Jade can be carved into human figures, containers, images of birds, animals flowers as well as small things like a brooch, ring, seal or decorative object.

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  1. Filigree Inlaying

Filigree inlaying first appeared in China during the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE), and later became popular during the late Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). By the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it had become one of the eight Yanjing traditional handicrafts. Today there are few craftsmen who work in filigree inlaying and the technique is in danger of fading away. However, with the famous Chinese jewelry and jade company Zhaoyi engaged in preservation initiatives, perhaps this traditional craft has a chance to live on and flourish in the years ahead.

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  1. Engraving

Engraving as an art form has been around almost as long as Filigree Inlaying, having begun in the late Spring and Autumn Period and become popular during the Warring States period (475-221 BCE). Different engraving techniques were used over the years to decorate gold and silver with colorful patterns, peonies and chrysanthemums, fairies, unicorns, phoenixes and dragons in the traditional Chinese style.

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  1. Kingfisher Feather Ornamentation

As a traditional process in the creation of gold and silver jewelry production, due to the complexity of the process, the difficulty of preserving the finished product, and the use of kingfisher feathers — which is more difficult as environmental protection requirements become stricter — this traditional jewelry-making technique has almost been lost. The vast majority of examples of this type of ornamentation we see today have been handed down from the Qing Dynasty, since the technique really peaked during the Qianlong period (1735-1799 CE).

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  1. Gold and Silver Threading

First appearing in the Shang and Zhou Dynasties and mainly used in the decoration of bronze vessels, over the course of history gold and silver threading gradually disappeared from the world stage as a result of the difficulty of the process. Today, though, some artisans are bringing this art form back to life, restoring thousands of years of lost time.

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by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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