Unveiling a Chinese Luxury Jadeite Brand: A Visit to Zhaoyi Cuiwu in Beijing
September 2, 2014
Brand ProfileThe brand name “Zhaoyi” originated from the ancient Chinese Palace of the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 9 AD). It was one of the high official titles assigned by the emperors to women who served in the palace. In Chinese, “Zhao” means “illuminating” or “being bright”, while “Yi” means “etiquette”. These concepts are also the core of the Chinese gold-jade culture.
Zhaoyi Xintiandi Jewelry Co., Ltd. was formed in Beijing in 2003. From day one, this company has established its image as the leader of Chinese high-end jewellery trends and the inheritor of traditional Chinese jewellery manufacturing craftsmanship. The company integrates jadeite rough purchasing, jewellery design, haute couture design, jewellery manufacturing, jewellery retailing and brand promotion.
In 2004, Zhaoyi opened its first retail store in Beijing. In 2007, Zhaoyi opened its first flagship store in the Beijing Kunlun Hotel. In that same year, film star Wenli Jiang walked the red carpet of the international film festival in Rome wearing a Zhaoyi suite consisting of a colourless transparent jadeite necklace and ring. For the first time, fine jadeite jewellery designed and made by Zhaoyi stood out on an international stage.
The store visited by the GIA team in the Grand Hyatt Beijing opened in September 2008. Well-known film stars attended the opening ceremony. In 2012, a new Zhaoyi Cuiwu store image was unveiled at the Shanghai Top Marques private luxury exhibition. International film star Kar-ling Lau modelled top-quality jadeite jewellery at the show. Since the company’s formation, Zhaoyi has collaborated with many film stars, and many of them became collectors of Zhaoyi’s fine jadeite jewellery.
Great leadership and industry expertise are always important to the development and prosperity of a business. Zhaoyi’s president and CEO, Ms Yunhe Wang, has very sharp insights and a clear sense of her company's direction. She selected filigree inlay designer Master Yingyi Bai and Canadian-Chinese jewellery designer Grace Lee as the chief designers. This turned out to be one of the most successful moves in Zhaoyi’s history.
Currently, Zhaoyi has a total of 13 boutique stores in nine cities. While not a large number, every store is like an art gallery. The Beijing store even houses a private filigree museum. Aside from major cities in mainland China, Zhaoyi also has locations in Hong Kong and is planning to open franchised shops in Paris, New York and other metropolitan areas all over the world. Their goal is to bring the Chinese gold-jade culture to the international market.
Creative Jewellery DesignTargeting the high-end jadeite jewellery market in China, Zhaoyi creates jadeite masterpieces with particular appeal to art collectors. In order to successfully inherit and carry on the gold-jade culture and its thousands of years of history, designers apply groundbreaking Western design concepts to jadeite jewellery. These creative designs attract the attention of the younger generation and the Western world.
Company TreasuresWhen a great designer works with extremely rare top-quality material, masterpieces are expected. Zhaoyi claims both elements as company treasures.
Grace Lee, a Canadian originally from Hong Kong, is the chief designer at Zhaoyi Cuiwu. Once a broadcaster at ATV World in Hong Kong, Grace stepped into the gem and jewellery industry with a jewellery design degree from Hong Kong Baptist University and a GIA Graduate Gemmologist diploma. Since she became a jewellery designer, her works have become very popular in auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. As Zhaoyi’s chief designer, two of her product lines, “Jade for You” and “Jade That She Wants”, are very well favoured by clients. Both have been extended into high-end custom jewellery lines.
One of Grace’s jadeite masterpieces is also the company’s symbol. It’s called “The star of Zhaoyi”. It was released in 2012 and won the Robb Report's Best Chinese Selected Jewelry Award. The centre stone of the The star of Zhaoyi is a top-quality lavender jadeite cabochon that weighs 9,499 carats. The cabochon is mounted in precious metal with numerous diamonds and coloured stones. The piece resembles a blossoming peony, which is considered the national flower of China. Ten matched rings were made to surround the larger piece. Each ring has a top-quality colourless transparent jadeite as the centre stone. All ten rings have the same design as the star of Zhaoyi.
Contribution to the Jade IndustryIn addition to promoting and managing the brand, Zhaoyi also played an important role in the formation of the National Jadeite Grading Standard. Because Zhaoyi has access to a huge amount of jadeite of different qualities, it became the sponsor of the research into the grading system. Zhaoyi provided standard samples, and some experts from the company even participated in the research. In December, 2012, the Chinese Standardization Administration officially approved the “transparent jadeite (colourless) classification” standard. This standard was in practice at the end of 2013.
Dr Tao Hsu is a technical editor of Gems & Gemology. Andrew Lucas is manager of field gemmology for content strategy at GIA Carlsbad.
GIA staff often visit mines, manufacturers, retailers and others in the gem and jewellery industry for research purposes and to gain insight into the marketplace. GIA appreciates the access and information provided during these visits. These visits and any resulting articles or publications should not be taken or used as an endorsement.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by Ms Vivian Jiang and Grace Gao from Zhaoyi during our visit to Beijing. We would also like to thank Prof. Xiaoyan Yu and Mr Jianzhu Xiong from the Gemmological Institute of China University of Geosciences (Beijing) for being our interpreters. Special thanks also go to all the staff working in Zhaoyi Cuiwu.