Antique collector to exhibit unique nyonya jewellery

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 05 Apr 2003


KUALA LUMPUR: Antique collector Chan Yue Yee will travel miles and cross the seas, literally, in search of nyonya jewellery. 

She traces families with nyonya heritage not just within the country but also to Australia, England and New Zealand to obtain a wide range of designs dating back hundreds of years.  

Her enthusiasm is fuelled more by personal interest than business calculations, as when she stumbles upon a piece of jewellery she truly likes, no amount of money can make her part with it. 

“I have a weakness for nyonya jewellery, which are rich in cultural heritage and unique. 

COSTUME TIP: Chan showing the right way to pin the kerongsang onto a kebaya top. During the exhibition, she plans to show visitors how to wear antique jewellery with a contemporary twist.

“Each piece of design is full of symbolism, such as butterfly for wedded bliss, Chinese unicorn (Qilin) for wisdom, justice and good fortune and peonies for prosperity. 

“The cut is so fine. Just imagine, the craftsman could actually ‘add’ veins to the design of a leaf that is the size of a rice,” she said when interviewed at her shop, Heirloom – which specialises in Peranakan antiques from painting, nyonya wares to kebaya – at the Lot 10 shopping complex recently. 

Chan will exhibit some 100 pieces of antique nyonya jewellery, including her not-for-sale collection, during the KL Fashion Week’s exhibition and showcase at the MidValley Megamall on April 27. 

The pieces on display would include pendants, kerongsang (brooches), rings, bangles and anklets of intricate designs made of precious stones and gold.  

“During the exhibition, I would also like to show the public how to wear antiques with a contemporary twist. For example, by matching a gold nyonya pendant with a velvet string to go with a tube top underneath an unfastened kebaya top with jeans, you have the look for a night out at the discotheque.  

“I use kerongsang in the hair as my headgear quite often to formal functions and parties. If I am in a foreign land, my nyonya accessories always become a point of conversation and lead on to little history lessons on Peranakan culture for foreign guests,” said Chan, who was trained as an interior designer. 

The showcase would also include a kebaya collection from Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, the wife of Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a range of Qi Pao (cheongsam) designed by Zang Toi and prototype shoes from London-based Jimmy Choo.  

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