The tradition of jewelry-making in China goes back at least to the Neolithic Period, when pierced jade animal pendants were worn for their talismanic properties. More recently, within the last few thousand years, jewelry-like jade clasps buckled men’s belts, while women held their hair in place with bone or gold-and-jeweled ornamental hairpins.

In fact, hairpins and pendants were the dominant forms of fine jewelry in China up until the last thousand or so years. The prongs of these pins were sometimes gilded in silver, while the space between the prongs was often richly worked with gold and a type of gold beading called granulation. Sometimes bird motifs would decorate their surfaces, with gems and pearls used in patterns and as accents.

Gold garment plaques were worn by members of the court. Rather like square or rectangular brooches, these adornments were crammed with images of dragons and other traditional Chinese iconography. Gemstones would border the plaque and dot its interior, which was usually constructed of openwork and chased gold. Solid gold was also popular, especially in the bands of gold called armlets worn on women's arms.

Today, much of the jewelry we associate with China was made in the Victorian Era or more recently for export to the West. Jade has remained a trademark of Chinese jewelers, while other materials such as coral are also carved into the shapes of animals and flowers. A mineral called cinnabar, whose reddish pigment is sometimes used in lacquerware, is also carved for bangles and pendants, while ox bone meant to imitate ivory is ubiquitous in openwork earrings and as beading on necklaces.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Good Antique Butterscotch Egg Yoke Amber Bead Necklace 23 GramsVintage Old Chinese 14k Gold Carved Apple Green Jade & Pearl Earrings Screw BackGood Antique Butterscotch Egg Yoke Amber Bead Necklace 28 Grams18-19th Chinese Antique Jade PendantsRare Vintage Chinese Gilt Sterling Silver Enamel Carved Jade Buddha BraceletVintage 1920's Chinese Turquoise Enamel Sterling "vermeil" Filigree BraceletGood Antique Butterscotch Egg Yoke Amber Loose Beads For Necklace 37.1 GramsVtg Chinese Sterling Silver Filigree Jade BraceletSuperb Vintage Chinese High Carot White Gold And Jade RingAntique Chinese White Greenish Carved Jade Jadeite Dragon Belt Hook Buckle SetRare Late C19th - C1900s Chinese Carved Orange Cornelian Agate Or Jade Necklace.19th Chinese Antique White Jade PendantChinese Antique White Jade Boy,song DynastyGood Antique Butterscotch Egg Yoke Amber Small Beads For Necklace 37.5 GramsMing Dynasty Chinese Antique White Jade Boy,group Of 2Antique Chinese Apple Green Jade Gilted Silver Filigree Bracelet (11231401)18-19th Chinese Antique Jade & Tourmaline Court BeadsRare Vintage Chinese Gilt Sterling Silver Enamel Carved Jade Buddha BraceletVtg Chinese Sterling Silver Filigree Vermeil Aventurine Enamel Flower BraceletVtg Chinese Sterling Silver Filigree Turquoise Coral Enamel Finger Bracelet105gram 18k And 9k Gold Necklace With Angel Skin Coral Carnelian Beads Etc.Vtg Chinese Coral Glass Bead Flower Pendant NecklaceVintage Chinese 14kt Gold & Blue Lapis Hard Stone Bangle Bracelet, No Reserve90,4 Gr. Antique Chinese 1,15 Cm Red Momo Coral Bead Necklace Fine Chinese Bracelet With 5 Turquoise Stone Set In Silver & Enamel Strap E20thc70g Antique Coral Necklace Beads Huge Heavy Natural Red Chinese RareVintage Antique Chinese Natural Salmon Peach Carved Coral Bead Necklace 24.8 GrOld Chinese Carved Cow Bone Bangle64,5 Gr. Chinese Tibetan Genuine Antique Natural Undyed Coral Necklace Ca. 1880Very Fine Genuine Natural Undyed Salmon Red Coral Necklace 2 X StrandVintage 1970's 14k Chinese Gold Character & Natural Multi-color Jadeite BraceletCollection Of Chinese Kingfisher Feather & Silver Jewellery E20thcAntique Baltic Egg Yolk Butterscotch Amber Beads Chinese Bracelet Necklace 14gAntique Long Chinese Red Coral Necklace 64 Cm Wunderful ConditionVintage Chinese Gold Gilt Sterling Silver Green Jadeite Jade Ring 69 Gr. Fine Genuine Natural Red Coral Necklace 0,75 - 1,1 BeadsFine Chinese Bracelet With Carved Panel Set In Silver & Enamel Strap E20thc19th C.-20th C. Chinese Jade Fish Form PendentThree String Of Faceted Amber Graduated Beads Antique Necklace 118 Total GramChinese Antique Jade Sword Scabbard Fitting,song DynastyAntique Chinese Hand Carved Cow Bone & Natural Coral Necklace Gold Clasp L@@kExceptional Old Antique Chinese White Jade Plaque Belt Buckle Coral Belt Very Beautiful Old Chinese Cinnabar Brooch - Silver Filigree Mount - Very RareAntique / Vintage Chinese Imperial Jadeite Jade Bar Brooch In High Carat Gold.Chinese Tibetan Genuine Antique Natural Undyed Coral Necklace Gold Beads 40,4grVintage Lot Of 2 Gold Lapis & Carnelian? Beaded Long Necklace Chinese? JewelryVintage Chinese Gold Gilt Sterling Silver Green Jadeite Jade Ring Beautiful Antique Chinese Carved Jade Model Of A Pug Dog.Vtg Light Green And Cafe Jade Lion Pendant Plaque Chinese Bixie Necklace Natural41 Antique Chinese Carved Peach Pit Beads Necklace Figural Man Hedaio Seed Nut148gram Old Chinese Export Bracelet Four Bracelets Gold/silverAntique Carved Chinese Amber Beaded BraceletBeautiful Amber PendantChinese Antique Gold Gate Link Bracelet Mens Womens 20ct 20k Not 22k - Not ScrapChinese Costume Jewellery Clips BroochAntique Chinese Coral Bead Torsade Carved Flower Clasp 83g NecklaceVintage 14k Yellow Gold & Navette Shape Apple-green Jadeite Chinese Ring (7.25)Fine Chinese Silver Filigree Bracelet With 3 Cinnabar Lacquer Roundels E20thcChinese Export Silver Napkin Ring Figural Gothic K C1875Fine Genuine Natural Dark Red Chinese Coral Necklace Beads