The best part of Peranakan jewellery for us is how refined they appear for something so delicate. But do you know why?
In the old days, the jewelry craftsman would bring his tools to the family residence and make the commissioned piece there. In that way, the specifics of each piece was perfected in the presence of its owner.
This pair of earrings was commissioned by a Peranakan family more than 90 years ago. While unique in its own right, we also found out that this very pair was owned by every dame who would have worn it in her young days! Ha! Another conspicuous trait of the small community, to intimate and to story tell, until one and all shared the same aesthetic, urges, and not forgetting, trivia. Each side consists of 20 tiny old mine cut diamonds set in a crescent shape that hugs the ear lobe. Like the lavalier pendant, the earrings end with a single diamond dangle. We like to think of it as, ‘only a wee frivolity is allowed’.
After some mind-numbing research, we feel that this is an unusual style for Peranakan earrings. We normally see art nouveau style dangling earrings (anting-anting), or studs (kerabu) but with its clean lines, this one is certainly art deco. Perhaps it was commissioned by a young lady who was not traditional at all!
Old Peranakan jewellery is beautiful because they are stubborn. Stubborn on quality and stubborn on style. In a cultural sense, we do not see this quality replicated in jewelry from anywhere, no matter how fine or expensive. Unlike Cartier or Bulgari or Tiffany, the style of Peranakan jewellery is not determined by any particular designer or craftsmen; they are products of organic, cross cultural efforts.
Although they command formidable prices in the marketplace nowadays, this does not deter collectors and admirers alike. Even people who don’t like jewellery perk up when they hear about an old Peranakan piece!