Friday, June 19, 2009


Today we explore the many branches of one of China's famous trade routes known as the Silk Road.

A 19th century German scholar, von Richtofen, coined the name of this land-based network of roads due to the early Romans' fascination with silk.

We have lots of ground to cover that includes oasis settlements Turfan, and Kuqa, and the Gobi and Taklimakan deserts. China is also home to featured jewelry designer Kai-Yin Lo.

Lo is highly accomplished having studied European history at Cambridge and London Universities, and business at Harvard Business School.

Lo began a hobby of collecting semi-precious stones like Chinese jade, bone, amber, freshwater pearls, and aquamarine upon her return to Hong Kong after completing her studies.

Collecting semi-precious gemstones quickly developed into another interest; fashioning stones into jewelry, "My first designs stemmed from assembling diverse antique pieces into pendants, and hangings first for the home then I hung them on myself and friends, then marketed these designs," she says.

Lo's primary interest in creating jewelry with semi-precious stones was to give women, particularly career women, the option of owning beautiful pieces without the encumbrance of keeping the jewelry safe. "Traditionally people think of jewelry as valuable in terms of investment," she says."To me the real value is what applies to your life."

None other than Cartier's, New York branch bought her first collection, a lovely hybrid of Eastern and Western aesthetics. By 1990, groundbreaking events occurred when U.S. stores Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, none of whom had sold semi-precious jewelry, retailed Lo's jewelry.

By 2000, to a certain extent Lo scaled back on her jewelry design career to focus on a whirlwind schedule of lecturing, curating, consulting, and writing.

Lo has organized many exhibitions including Hong Kong's Living Heritage - Vernacular Environment - in China in 2000; Hong Kong's Creative Hong Kong - Design and Lifestyle held at the Shanghai Grand Theater in 2004; and 2005's The New China Chic, showcasing Chinese jewelry and fashion designers for New Jersey's Style Asia, Business for Design Week.

A firm believer in "cross-cultural interaction," Lo's lecturing schedule includes an annual speaking engagement, Asian Arts and Culture - A New Vision, at the Asia Society where she talks about the importance of art, design, and culture in "societal development".

"I am a champion of promoting the creative industries as propellers of economic and social development in society." Her jewelry collections are exclusively sold at the Asia Society's AsiaStore in New York.
Photo 1 (top right): Aquamarine Necklace and Earrings with Freshwater Pearls set in 18-Karat White Gold
Photo 2 (bottom left): Necklace and Earrings made with Hetian White Jade, Coral, and Turquoise set in 18-Karat White Gold
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