I think it’s fair to say that St. Patrick’s Day was the furthest thing from Ashley Zhang’s mind when the New York–based designer created her limited-edition collection made with jade and diamonds. Launched just before Chinese New Year, it’s indeed a fitting homage to her heritage, given that jade is prized in Chinese culture not only for its beauty, but also for its historical significance in important ancient stories and associations with the country’s most famous rulers and philosophers. Jade is also revered as a symbol of luck and good fortune, one of the many reasons the stone is now treasured—and coveted—on a universal level.
Zhang is best known for her engagement rings and wedding bands, the prettiest of which sparkle with all manner of step-cut diamonds and have a modern–meets–Art Deco feel. The limited-edition jade pieces, made with jadeite sourced from an old family-run gem business that’s no longer operating, embrace a similar aesthetic. In fact, Zhang looked to the origins of the Art Deco style for inspiration. In the 1920s and 1930s, jewelry and precious objects from that era began to incorporate jade after well-to-do, globe-trotting Europeans and North Americans developed an interest in Asian culture during their travels.
Kite shapes, squares, and rectangles commingle with step-cut accent diamonds in clean, elegantly contoured geometric settings that honor the past—and a material imbued with so much cultural and symbolic significance—yet feel just right for a modern audience.
I’m not sure how Zhang will feel about my highlighting her exquisite work in the context of a holiday associated with so much…merrymaking…but since the color green and good luck are significant to the Irish (and anyone celebrating St. Patrick’s Day over the weekend), this just felt like jewelry we needed to see today.
A few more favorites, below.
Top: Each piece in Ashley Zhang’s limited-edition jade collection is one of a kind, made with a small parcel of Chinese jadeite originally cut for use in jewelry and sculpture in the 1950s.
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