A Who’s Who List of Jewelers Appear In The Film
In the vastly entertaining and lavish film, Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) based on the enjoyable read and bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, jewelry not only helps define the character’s lives and position in society but also reflects symbolic significance in at least two instances in the movie. Pieces by Mouawad, Bulgari, Chopard and Michelle Ong of the Hong Kong based jewelry house of Carnet accessorize the fingers, wrists, necks and ears of the leading characters of the all-Asian cast.
The glamorous production also features renowned fashion houses and creates the luxurious world in which the characters live. The story, for those who haven’t read the book, follows Nick Young (Henry Golding), who invites Rachel (Constance Wu)), his Chinese American economics professor girlfriend to his friend’s wedding in Singapore where he is originally from. There she meets his traditional and overbearing mother (Michelle Yeoh), grandmother and the rest of his, ‘crazy rich’ cousins, including Astrid (played by Gemma Chan), who is a central character and fashion icon in the book and film. For much of the movie, Rachel is a fish out of water and is rejected by Nick’s mother. But I will leave it up to you to see the film for the rest of the story and I will get back to how the jewelry figures into it.
The jewelry house of Carnet was mentioned in the book and Kwan approach Michelle Ong for jewelry for the character of Eleanor and Ah Mah, Nick’s Grandmother (Lisa Lu). They worked together with costume designer Mary E. Vogt to choose bespoke statement pieces such as a white and fancy intense yellow diamond floral brooch set in platinum and 18K yellow gold, a brooch pendant with a central yellow sapphire and intense yellow, orange and white diamonds in platinum and 18K white gold, worn on a white and yellow 18K gold diamond chain. There is also a jade and diamond brooch that Yeoh wears.
One of my favorite scenes is when Astrid goes on a jewelry shopping spree. In addition to Vogt’s brilliant costuming which emphasizes the wealth and power of the Young family and their friends, production designer Nelson Coates renovated the Astor Bar at Kuala Lumpur’s St. Regis Hotel into the jewelry store replete with display cases filled with bold ornate jewels. Astrid purchases a pair of stand-out gemstone and pearl drop earrings (designed by Mouawad) , which play a symbolic role in her transformation towards the end of the movie (which is all I can say without a spoiler alert).
The engagement ring that also plays a pivotal role in the film is a brilliant emerald ring flanked by diamonds on the side worn by Yeoh as Eleanor. It turns out that it is her own ring, which she designed for herself. She chose to wear it instead of the one that Jon Chu, the director originally imagined for the film which look similar to the Van Cleef and Arpels emerald ring that Jackie Kennedy received from President Kennedy.
The ring is symbolic in an emerald’s association with royalty wealth and power and in how Eleanor changes in one of the last scenes.
Like in real life, the jewelry in this film represents the nuances of a culture- in this case that of billionaires old and new money and the traditions of Singapore society. But more importantly, the pieces chosen for each central character reflect their personalities and the shifts, and turns that each of them take throughout the film.