Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A Life In Jade

Madam Leong Seow Ying (or Ying Gu as her friends call her) Jade - Mother, housewife and jewellery designer. But mostly a good neighbour. :-)

My mom in her early 20s (1956). She loved her Doris Day dresses. We still have her fashion mags from that time! Priceless!
One of my late mom's loves (she passed away suddenly this last August) was jade. She would buy and resell them, often enhancing them with gold to turn them into pendants, brooches or bangles. She would also make them into lovely Mandarin necklaces. You can see a sample of her large collection below. (Her jade hobby brought up us 7 kids singlehandedly since our teen years!)

I did not know how large her collection was until she passed away and we - my eldest sis and I - had to sort through her belongings. I must say some of her designs are very eye-catching. My mom's a natural in art and craft - something I inherited as well. I also inherited her love for miniatures (and she has a large collection of these as well!) So you can imagine the task we have in front of us in trying to clear this lot my mom has made and intended to sell.

Why sell? many of my friends would ask.You should treasure them, they say. But I do. And I have kept pieces which I liked or found to be representative of my mom's sense of style and taste. But there are just too many. Those my mom had worn we kept. And we also selected pieces to keep and give as wedding dowry to my mom's granddaughters.

So, here, take a look at my mom's handiwork (she designed and beaded them all) and let me know if any of them is to your fancy. With friends we are selling at cost mostly. My mom dealt only in Grade A or B jade, and also in genuine gemstones. Some gemstones are common, some not. She didn't fancy making jewellery pieces with fake or less than quality material. Her take is that she rather bring out the beauty of the stone or jade. They way they catch light or feel to the touch.

My mom also had a good sense of humour and this is reflected in her selection of quirky pieces. And folks of her generation also learnt of their own Cantonese/Chinese culture through storytelling, word of mouth and the passing on of customs. This you can also discern from the figures that are craved from the jade pieces. Many are auspicious, zodiac or simply meaningful, such as those rounded doughnut shaped pendants that were often given to young adults on their first day of work. "Yau yun" - Cantonese, literally translated to "got roundish shape", which is euphemism for "yau yun" - two other words that mean "got fate", which is to imply getting along with your new colleagues. Sweet, isn't it? It is sad that folks don't practice this custom anymore!

Enjoy and do contact me for a viewing. As my mom used to say, "Jade you have to feel and like. Every piece is different and it grows and changes color with you." I would know. I've worn them since a kid!

I will add more pics in due course (there are jade rings, unmounted jade/gem stones, etc.) Oh, good jade need not be expensive (in fact, they are usually not). So don't get conned by jewellery shops or by merchants who "dope" jade to make them look valuable!

Update: More items and detailed pics are here: A Life In Jade - Gallery

Beads of all kinds of gemstones: Jasper, garnet, turquoise, onyx, etc.

Quartz of all colors and shade. Some are color jade.

Necklaces of crystal beads as well as amethyst, etc.

"Pancake" pendants - very popular. A necklace here with jade beads as well.

Ma lau jade as well as jade with "skin". necklaces stringed with mandarin designs.

Again all manner of necklaces including stone beads, smoky quartz as well as genstones. - All cool to the touch.

Pendants galore - some two sided (great value) and with auspicious carvings.

Lavender jade, anyone?

Unmounted pendant jade. I love the white cloud ones with dark green!

More Chinese-motif carved jade.

Various stuff as well as "pichu" - playful Chinese lions that bring fortune and ward off evil.

Bangles of various shade and texture. 

Can you make out the carvings?

More pendants and snuff bottles in the background (which I brought back from Beijing.)

More unmounted stones.

Some of these colors and carvings are just gorgeous.

Brown jade can be of very high value.

A close up.

How one such piece can be mounted. Real diamonds.

Bangles and more bangles. A very Chinese lady thing (of my mom's generation).

Bangles feel so cool and calming on the arm. :-)

Jade balls of celebration and other pieces.

I love bangles with gold clasps (easy to remove). One way to save broken jade or add a whole new look!

Brown or ma lao jade can be very expensive.

An ancient design of bamboo shape for "catching wealth" euphemism.

Needle quartz. This one is popular with Buddhists.

Some jade and stone miniatures.

Ducks and fortune cats.

Lovely snuff bottles from Beijing's Crafts Market.

Ancient thumb rings. Be the Boss Man with one of these, haha. They are
also called Dowager Rings.

Donut jade pendants for young adults starting work so as to have good relations with colleagues.

Unmounted ma lao and other stones.

This one is lovely. A great mix of stones and crystals!

Dark green ancient jade.

A nice combo creation. Way to go mom!

A lovely fish pendant.

Close up.

Another nice pendant since sold.

Colored jade beads formed into a ball pendant. Modern.

A simple flower jade turned into a happening string macramae bangle with crystals. 
Rabbit miniature jade and motif pendant.
Close up. Two rabbits and three coins for abundance of children and wealth!
Rings and more doughnut pendants.

Bangles and more bangles. The white "fei g yoke" pig fat bangles have been sold. Precious white jade.

A close up.

More bangles in trays.

And some more. Wah piang! Cataloging is going to be a challenge!

Some folks really like these rich green bangles. Very auspicious!

My mom loved miniatures and collected a lot. A small sample of what she used to have (downsizing
to a more manageable, smaller flat). 

More miniatures.

Miniature teapots.

A close up. Chickens and roosters are my mom's fave. If you know chickens, you know
they come in great variety and their feathers can be soft and of great sheen. Just look
at the grey-spotted Japanese chicken. 

Jade fish.

We had six cats once.
A close up.

We had a hare that was toilet-trained and loved bread and coffee!

Turtles and tortoises. A symbol of longevity. On right are ones with slits to hold a name card. 
For more items and detailed pics, please click here A Life In Jade (Gallery)

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