Carnet by Michelle Ong arrives in London
LONDON, November 18, 2012 – A selection of exquisite pieces of Carnet by Michelle Ong are now available at Harry Fane at 13 Duke Street, St James’s, in central London.
From Castellani and Fabergé in the 19th Century, Lalique and Tiffany during the Art Nouveau years, Suzanne Belperron and Fulco di Verdura in the 1940s and 1950s, all the way to JAR as the emblematic jeweller of the late 20th Century, only a small number of special designers throughout history have focused on “jewels as art”.
Motivated by the search for artistic perfection, their common desire is to produce rare jewels, which transcend the value of the materials used.
Each piece is one of a kind, strongly reflecting the aesthetic vision of the designer and … a work of art.
Amongst the few jewellers following this tradition today, Carnet occupies a privileged position as a sophisticated, bold and sensual designer.
Materials, such as jade, blend with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and garnets.
There are unusual palm tree and peach brooches, as well as exquisite long dangling grape ear-pendants, set with briolette or rose-cut diamonds. There are jade and diamond butterfly brooches and lotus buttons.
Carnet was founded in 1985 in Hong Kong by Michelle Ong, who brought her artistic vision, and Avi Nagar, a precious stone dealer who added his entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of gems.
The aim was to produce signed limited edition jewels and unique designs on request.
To maintain complete creative freedom, Ong purposely did not follow any jewellery design training, but honed her knowledge of gemstones while working as an apprentice for a diamond importer.
She started first by creating jewels for her own personal use, free of any artistic restriction.
From this period of experimental design, she moved towards the founding of Carnet, which remains today the result of her own creative vision.
The name Carnet is a French word, which in this context has a double meaning. It refers to the intimate notebook, which Ong keeps with her at all times, sketching shapes and silhouettes observed from the world she experiences and which are a source of inspiration for her creations.
It also derives from the “Carnet de Bal” of the 18th Century, a little notebook in which ladies would write down the list of the noblemen inviting them for a dance.
In 2003, Carnet opened a boutique in Central Hong Kong. In 2005, it participated in a major exhibition on “Diamonds” at the Natural History Museum in London, and the following year it exhibited 100 jewels in the prestigious Burrell Collection in Glasgow.
With its reputation growing internationally, Carnet was asked to design four special creations for “The Da Vinci Code” movie, based on the famous novel.
It also commissioned American architect Edward Tuttle to conceive a new salon for their jewels in Hong Kong.
Throughout this evolution and increased recognition throughout the world, production has remained limited, the manufacturing approach is highly precise and time-consuming still today, and inspiration is the core foundation for any creation.
In recent years, we have seen a considerable shift in the manner in which collectors approach jewellery.
Often, it is no longer the intrinsic value of the gems but the design element, which plays a key factor in the appreciation of a jewel.
With the development of contemporary art as a major force in the collecting field, a whole new set of buyers has emerged who are interested in jewels as works of art.
Michelle Ong was born in Hong Kong, where she lives today, but spent part of her formative years in North America.
Having served an apprenticeship in the diamond industry, with no formal training in design, Ong began to create jewellery for herself because she could never find pieces she desired and wanted to wear.
“My philosophy of design is to incorporate my inspirations derived from the world at large. It is true that, in a sense, this is a fusion of ‘sensitivities’- but these influences are more wide-ranging than East and West.
“I think my sensitivities primarily reflect an all-encompassing femininity in which resides strength and softness; elegance and power; the remarkable past and the beautiful present.”
Carnet was established in 1985 by Ong, with precious gem-dealer Avi Nagar as her business partner, providing her not only with the right materials, but also with a structure that enabled her to express her individual, inspired and innovative creative vision.
As Ong’s trailblazing creations began to gather international attention and acclaim, Carnet opened an atelier in Hong Kong (2003), and later a boutique (2007), designed by American architect Edward Tuttle, that soon became a destination store for sophisticated collectors around the world.
Carnet’s reputation has continued to flourish, along with Ong’s artistry, yet she remains uncompromising in her dedication to perfection, her designs encompassing a statement of all things that have the power to viscerally move us, no matter the origin.
Ong’s craftsmanship reflects her indefatigable quest to explore new and ingenious expressions of the art of the jewel through an unrestricted artistic vision.