We have within our collections quite a few pieces of intricate and beautiful jewellery which come within the 'Chinese Export' category. We'd like to share here a little of the background to their history and creation. A craze for orientalism and Chinoiserie first started in the West in the Georgian era, when an appreciation of Eastern cultures and Arts was the mark of a connoisseur amongst the 'bon ton'. We have our wonderful Brighton Pavilion built in 1787 as a daily reminder.... Indian to the exterior and Chinese to the interior, it is the most striking creation!
In the 1880's, the Victorians revived this enthusiasm for elaborate Chinese decoration during the 'Aesthetic Period'. They imported furniture, ornamental objects and jewellery in vast quantities from China, both pieces which were domestic, and those made specifically for the export market using traditional techniques by local artisans. The jewellery is exotic and very distinctive using centuries old techniques. Those which are oft seen are; enamelling, filigree and stone carving, and in addition many of these jewels show 'lucky' or fortuitous symbols, such as Bats for good luck and happiness, squash for good health and prosperity, alongside symbology such as the 'Five Blessings' .
In the 1920s and 1930s, during the Art Deco eras many more of these pieces came to foreign shores, as their artistry and exquisite workmanship continued to be a hot commodity in the day.
As Azure and Aster say in their very thorough article on the subject: there was no trade with mainland China between 1949-1970, and so many of the pieces we have in our collection pre-date this time.