Thousands of people visit this site and arrive at a specific post via a search engine without seeing the main page. Please click on the PrivateCollection logo at the top to go there. The site is maintained as a Tribute to Susan as a small part of her legacy. Nothing on the site is for sale. Questions are sometimes answered, time permitting. PrivateCollection is the Photo Blog for Susan Dods, a long time antique dealer and collector. The site features photographs and commentary on very special pieces of Chinese Jewelry. View ALL of the posts in the archive with our exclusive PictureBook format.     相片书

Vintage Chinese Carved Mother of Pearl Dragon

This Vintage Chinese hand carved dragon buckle is the most unusual example of carved Mother of Pearl that I have ever been able to find.


[ click on images to enlarge …. photos by: RP (Bob) Birt ]

Mother of Pearl, is an organic-inorganic composite material produced by some mollusks as an inner shell layer; it is also what makes up the outer coating of pearls. It is strong, resilient, and iridescent. (Wikipedia)

The Chinese have been using  Mother of Pearl for ornamentation for over 1500 years. Usually, it is associated with; game markers and buttons or the beautiful inlays the Chinese use in conjunction with lacquer …but very seldom with jewelry.

An image  search on Goggle seems to bare this out. After 15 pages or so, while I saw a number of beautiful Mother of Pearl ornaments, none were really comparable to this carving.


What I love the most is the skill the carver …creating a character that seems to come to life.

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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Chinese Vintage Jade Silver Bracelet

This is a really wonderful example of a 1930’s era Chinese silver enamelled bracelet that features hand carved jade hair pin ornaments from the 19th century. We have shown similar bracelets from that era or earlier… many of them very large to hold magnificent carved plaques…


[ click on images to enlarge …. photos by: RP (Bob) Birt ]

It is not often that I come across an item that has a Bill of Sale with it … but instead of ending the story right there… it creates more questions than it answers. This bracelet is stamped: MADE IN CHINA… and found its way to Hong Kong but the date on the receipt was probably 40 years after the bracelet was made (and it shows very little if no wear). The date on the receipt is close to one of the major dates in modern Chinese history; the passing of Mao Zedong on September 9th of 1976.


Doing the research on this piece of jewelry prompted me to spend hours reading about this period in Chinese history. This is one of those times when  I wish that pieces could talk… the story that this bracelet could tell… not only about the artist who created it but the times that it lived in and how it made its way, first to Hong Kong and then to the US – via a tourist … who for whatever reason kept the receipt and bracelet in its original box.


Once again, a piece of jewelry becomes more than just a pretty ornament… teaching me…

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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Chinese Antique Yellow Court Beads

It is wonderful to be starting our seventh year with the PhotoBlog! It is amazing that time can pass by so quickly. We would like to thank all of you for your support… your emails and comments have made this ‘adventure’ all the more exciting!!

[ click on images to enlarge …. photos by: RP (Bob) Birt ]

We have featured Chinese glass beads before. In March of 2010, we did a post on a similarly carved set of beads and highlighted the beautiful knotting that was used to string them. 


But these 19th century golden yellow beads are a very special set and help illustrate the importance of color for Chinese beads.

The five colors is the name given to the five basic colors in the Chinese world order. Each, (color) is associated with one of the five basic elements…

The five colors are; red, white, blue/green, yellow and black…but crimson, red and yellow were only used by nobility and forbidden to commoners. Chinese Art: B. B. Welch


So, I was very excited to find these hand carved beads –they must have been owned by a member of the royal family… this is the first yellow set that I have ever seen and the color is spectacular!

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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Chinese Mandarin Court Necklace Restoration Project

This early to mid-18th century Chinese Mandarin Court Necklace was originally found in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. The necklace has quite a story to tell and is now featured in a special post written by Bob “Out of the Attic”.

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Preserving Chinese Heritage in Modern Designs

I have written often about the ingenuity of Chinese artisans… especially how they used materials from previous eras to create new ornaments. I am thinking of things like antique jade button bracelets or hat buttons used as pendants.  There is a new generation of Chinese designers bringing together ‘recycled’ bits and pieces that preserves heritage and creates dynamic modern art.  


[ photos curtsey of WY Zhao; edited by RP (Bob) Birt … Click to Enlarge ]

When Chinese ornament designer W. Y. Zhao sent me a portfolio of her designs, I decided to do something that I have never done before… present a modern artist’s work on PrivateCollection… because they took  my breath away and (as you know) one of my favorite expressions is: “I have never seen this before!”

So I have selected several of her designs (which contain elements I have written about before: Kingfisher Jewelry and Mandarin Hat Buttons ) … presented in their new modern form… which will also be considered ‘antiques’ a hundred years from now …


Wenyan explained in her letter that: she gathers pieces together from many different places and she has people that will contact her when they come across even broken pieces that might be discarded … putting together old and new… and what I really appreciated were her descriptions that explain which is which! Also… the beautiful attention to details like the fine wrapping and mounting for each of her necklaces are in the tradition of beautiful Chinese workmanship.



There are so many variations and unique pieces  I think the best way to see them is to visit Wenyan’s Taobao Web Shop but make sure you have your teacup filled before you do… you might be spending a lot of time there!


Did you know that Google’s Chrome Browser will automatically translate foreign language web sites?

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