A leafy stretch of Julu Lu houses the newest addition to Shanghai’s independent jewellery scene: step through the light-filled conservatory into a charming space of powder-blue walls, French antique-style furniture and eccentric, oversized glass jars displaying jewellery as if it were botanical specimens.
Store director and qualified gemologist, Alice Pang, spotted a gap in the market for a high-end jewellery boutique several months ago. ‘Shanghai has a lot of luxury fashion boutiques, but their main focus is on clothing,’ she says. ‘Local demand for independent fashion has grown beyond clothes. People now want exclusive, one-off pieces of jewellery too.’
The majority of the jewellery is by Taiwanese designer Chen Yen Yeh, a former classmate of Pang’s now based in Shanghai. Her simple, aptly named Contemporary collection features different types of jadeite (one of two types of semi-precious gemstones collectively referred to as jade) in a range of modern settings.
It’s a world away from the ponderous, imperial style associated with traditional Chinese jade jewellery: instead, think oval pendants strung on delicate silver chains (7,560RMB) or embedded in plain silver rings (2,980RMB). The jadeite itself comes in a palette of pastel hues, ranging from mint to white, lilac and amber stones.
Chen has also produced some gorgeous one-off items with a distinctly vintage feel, like ‘Grandma’s Jewellery Box’, a cylindrical jadeite ring bookended with rubies (pictured, 9,880RMB).
Aside from jade, you can find offerings from Yol, a French designer whose pieces have an artier feel, with finely-veined ceramic brooches (3,240RMB) and scrolled silver hoop earrings (2,880RMB).
For a hippier vibe, check out Hong Kong-based brand Bothos, whose Setha range combines vintage silver amulets with rows of sandalwood rosary beads from Tibet. The wood gradually releases its oils on contact with skin, making for a soothing scent which deepens throughout the day.
Though Alice is billed as a ‘jewellery, art and lifestyle’ concept store, clothes are limited to a few carefully selected silk separates courtesy of Toufy (1,200-1,600RMB), and the ornate picture frames on the walls currently hang empty. Pang plans to introduce homeware and furniture this month. Selena Schleh