The world will shortly be celebrating the beginning of another Year of the Monkey. For those born in these years, or for anyone who just loves monkeys, there is a jungle’s worth of fine jewellery out there to help you ring in Chinese New Year.
And starting with earrings, a lot of Lydia Courteille jewellery features these precious primates. The Parisian designer made her first piece in 1998: “I transformed an antique 19th century brooch, which nobody wanted, into a pair of asymmetrical monkey earrings,” she recalls. “They sold immediately. I was very surprised. Then I decided to incorporate more monkeys into my jewels. Monkeys, as a theme, are just like snakes - they are very easy to work on.”
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Spanish brand Carrera y Carrera’s Bestiario collection of animal jewellery offers up a very realistic-looking monkey’s head to be worn on the finger. The yellow gold cocktail ring displays wonderful lattice work, a brushed gold face, and is decorated with green tsavorites, orange sapphires and diamonds.
Another monkey-obsessed Chinese designer Wendy Yue - who happens to have been born in the Year of the Monkey - has a wide selection of diamond jewellery, with tiny golden creatures snaking through fingers or climbing up ears. One of her latest designs is a two-finger diamond ring called the Curious Monkey, which takes the form of a brown diamond-backed monkey seeking out a juicy rhodolite garnet. Yue says the monkey is supposed to represent herself and her habit of being “endlessly curious of my surroundings and seeking adventure”.
Theo Fennell has added a rose gold and black diamond charm to its Art Charm collection in honour of Chinese New Year, while Bibi van der Velden has recreated a whole troop of monkeys on a brown diamond and tsavorite ring. And US jeweller Elizabeth Showers has yellow gold and diamond monkeys stretching to make hoops and curled up as pendants.
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People who are born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous - not unlike the luxury jewellery that captures their spirit. It looks like a fun year ahead for monkey-inspired pieces.