Monday, May 4, 2009


Here at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, China, we have an incredible, panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and all of the lofty buildings standing sharply along the shoreline. China is also home to featured jewelry designer Michelle Ong.

If you have seen the film The Da Vinci Code, you are undoubtedly aware of the film's intriguing yet radical concepts.

The film also introduced an item instrumental to the plot: the Fleur de Lis Cross Key used by actor Audrey Tatou's character to retrieve a safe deposit box.

What does this have to do with Ong? Here's a bit of trivia: Ong, through her company Carnet Jewelry, designed and created the key used in the film.

Ong's unflinching purposefulness, focus, and independence are rather intimidating. The offspring of doctors, Ong learned about gemstones while working as an apprentice for a diamond importer, who was also a family friend.

Ong's interest in gemstones developed into experimenting with designs and through sheer intuition she began to create items for her personal use. Because she didn't want her creativity inhibited, Ong never obtained formal design training, "There's no fear. I have no restrictions," she says.

In 1985, she formed a partnership with Israeli gem dealer, Avi Nagar and they founded Carnet Jewelry; Ong serves as Creative Director. When talking about jewelry I am hard pressed to find adjectives other than 'spectacular' or 'beautiful' to describe a piece. I don't think there are other words to be honest so I can't help sounding redundant.
Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou (left); and Fleur di Lis Key (right)
from The Da Vinci Code  (Fleur di Lis Key by Carnet Jewelry
Many of Ong's beautiful designs reflect the femininity and delicacy customary of Eastern designs yet they possess a bold complexity as well.  Her brooches and necklaces are intricate and ornate featuring stones such as emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and garnets. Others are a bit more understated but equally breathtaking. Many of her necklace designs are akin to lace patterns. One floral-inspired necklace took four years to make.

The brand’s labor-intensive philosophy to produce a piece is largely due to Ong’s very precise and protective attitude towards her designs.  She does not like selling her wares to individuals who want her pieces solely for their bling-bling aspect holding dear the artistic value of her work.

"To buy this kind of jewelry, you need to be a little bit educated, sophisticated. You need to be interested in work and design and not just flash." Ong's designs are made in limited quantity as she follows a strict work ethic: she designs only when inspired and she will not sell any creation that she does not consider high quality.

Her designs have been exhibited in London, Hong Kong, and the United States gaining the attention of upscale jetsetters, and Hollywood celebrities. Kate Winslet and Glenn Close are just a sampling of the famous clientele who have worn her stately fine jewelry.

In 2007, Carnet Jewelry opened a store in Bergdorf Goodman, which features rare, artisan designs, and Ong's creations have been eagerly received.

Interested in officialy licensed prop replicas from The Da Vinci Code? The Noble Collection produces several fuctional items based on the Cryptex.
Photo 1 (top right): Floral-inspired necklace with black/white diamonds, rubies, emeralds, garnets, and pink sapphires
Photo 2 (bottom left): Brooch with white/brown diamonds
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