If you read Crazy Rich Asians you know the luxury coverage was spot on. Seriously, the best I have ever read in a piece of fun fiction. There was one unforgettable line in the book when my jaw dropped at the author Kevin Kwan’s in-depth knowledge of jewelry. He described the uber-chic Astrid Young Teo as having the type of gem dealer that was all-knowing like Gianni Bulgari. Sure, the name Bulgari is known worldwide, but Gianni Bulgari specifically is not.
During his heyday in the 1960s, Gianni was not only the man who sold emeralds to Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor, he was also one of the most knowledgeable and respected dealers on the planet. A visionary, he launched the careers of Fawaz Grousi, the man behind the over-the-top luxurious DeGrisorgino label, Hans Nadelhoffer the esteemed author of the first important Cartier book and the super exclusive designer Giampiero Bodino. None of this is mentioned in Crazy Rich Asians. Gianni Bulgari’s name is tossed off like an aside in the book. It’s treated in the way they say on Instagram, “If you know, you know.”
Kwan knows and the director of Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu, made good use of the author for the movie. Kwan personally contacted Michelle Ong, the designer behind the Hong Kong based label Carnet, that is also mentioned in the publication to be part of the project. She provided some jewels for the matriarch Eleanor Young, played by Michelle Yeoh. One of the jewels is a white and fancy intense yellow diamond, platinum and gold pendant necklace. I suspect Carnet was also responsible for the emerald and diamond pieces Yeoh has on during a party scene. It’s possible she also created the striking diamond dragonfly ring Yeoh wears in the same scene.
Another key jewel in the film came from Michelle Yeoh’s personal collection. As the richest of the rich families, the director wanted her to wear emeralds as a symbolically powerful gem. According to an exclusive report on TheKnot.com the director felt the green of emeralds were regal and strong like her character and that she should have an emerald engagement ring. The costume design crew, led by Mary E. Vogt, created one that looked like Jackie Kennedy’s diamond and emerald Van Cleef & Arpels engagement ring from President Kennedy. Well, Michelle wanted something simpler and ended up wearing her own huge emerald and diamond engagement ring in the movie. It plays a major part in the plot.
Michelle brings another one of her real-life accessories into the film. A long-time ambassador for Richard Mille, she wears the hulking tonneau shaped watches throughout the film. I mean they are on her wrist in every single scene including with evening wear. The watch looks like the timepiece she is wearing on the cult brand’s website.
While Michelle Ong is the only jeweler with an on-screen credit there is plenty of other jewelry in the movie, mainly from Bulgari, Chopard and Mouawad. The luxurious shop where Astrid Young-Tao, magnificently played by Gemma Chan, goes shopping has Mouawad signage. Without giving anything away in the plot, the earrings she causally purchases for $1.2-million appear in her first scene as an indulgence. Near the end the film the jewels are a symbol of her freedom.
Astrid doesn’t show off her wealth with big jewelry throughout the movie, but she does wear great pieces a couple of times. While she shops for jewelry and in bed with gorgeous lingerie, she has on some colorful Bulgari earrings and a ring. In another scene she is wearing some stunning diamond chandeliers.
Astrid has the best taste of all the characters in the film and if her jewelry and wardrobe wasn’t enough to prove it, the watch she gives her husband certainly does. The time piece is a Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona. Kevin Kwan helped secure the coveted Rolex through esteemed watch expert Eric Wind. (Read all about it on Eric’s blog Wind Vintage.)
Rich women who surround the matriarch Eleanor Young all have on pretty big jewelry and I suspect a lot of it is real. Bulgari and Chopard sent security teams with all the jewelry they provided for the film. Younger subsidiary Singapore based characters also wear some serious looking fine jewelry.
The main female characters have jewels that match their personalities specifically. Peik Lin Goh, who is hilariously portrayed by Awkwafina, wears huge costume jewels that go perfectly with her outlandish outfits. Leading lady Constance Wu mainly wears jewels that are casual everyday pieces befitting her job as an economics professor at New York University. For the big scene at the wedding, however, she does don a small diamond pendant and a hairpiece by Jennifer Behr with her Marchesa baby blue gown.
It would be a spoiler to say more about the jewelry, but I will say that it is a way of life for the women in Singapore who are modern yet they have all the glamour of old Hollywood. Or I could equally describe it as those elegant years in the early sixties when Gianni Bulgari was the go-to man for gems in Rome.
See more of the jewelry in the movie in the trailer and, if you haven’t already, see the movie on the big screen soonest.
Crazy Rich Asians Trailer