Chinese New Year 2023 Jewelry

This weekend, billions of people around the world will gather to celebrate the Lunar New Year better known as the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Tiger is closing, and we’re full of hope as we welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

There are a few stories about how the Chinese New Year celebrations started. In part, the farmers and laborers needed a break before diving back into work for the next year, and this provided that much-needed respite. One of the prevailing legends tied to the tradition is that it stems from an ancient battle against the Nian. The Nian was a terrifying monster that came after people and ate children. They used fireworks and firecrackers to scare the beast off. This tradition has continued until today, and the festival serves as a time to gain good fortune.

red and gold lanterns




Asian couple in red and gold

“Legend tells of a creature named Nian, a despicable beast who lived under the sea or up in the mountains (depending on where you would have lived). Once every year Nian would rise from the depths or climb down from the peaks to feed, going after crops, livestock, and children. Mostly children. The villagers were tormented year after year until they discovered Nian hated the color red. They began to write charms scribbled on red papers and paste them all over their houses and doorways until Nian took a hike from then on, the time has become a celebration of all villagers’ safe passing from Nian into the New Year. Here’s to not getting eaten by monsters!

So red has become associated with folklore, but there’s more to the color. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes fire, good fortune, and joy. It is the color of happiness, used strictly for celebrations. Unsurprisingly, gold symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Together, they are used to spread the message of good fortune and prosperity to everyone in the coming new year. A nice sentiment, and those red and gold paper envelopes filled with money aren’t so bad either.” (Source: Sartle)



Asian family with red envelopes

Chinese jewelry collectors in mainland China celebrate the festival a little differently compared to collectors in Hong Kong. “We find that the younger generations of Hong Kong customers view the festival less traditionally than their parents,” says Jonathan Abram, director at Ronald Abram. “They buy jewelry when it suits them and is not tied to a specific holiday or season. In contrast, our mainland Chinese customers still celebrate Chinese New Year with auspicious jewelry gifts, including the younger generation.” Source: TatlerAsia

In recent years, gemstones such as red corundums, aka rubies, and rubellites, have become more common at Chinese New Year auctions and collection debuts. A 50.24-carat pigeon blood ruby and diamond necklace was sold by Bonhams on November 26, 2022, for HK$9.8 million at the Hong Kong Jewels and Jadeite sale. But while rubies may be the most recognizable red stones today, and are revered as a sign of protection, love, wealth, and power, they were rarely used in traditional Chinese jewelry, as they were not easily available in the region. “In ancient times, when trade within the continent was limited, rubies were not well known among the Chinese,” says Young. “Red agate and chalcedony, found locally, were more acceptable [and common], while the rarer red corals found in the coastal regions were reserved only for kings and nobles.” 



We wish you a magnificent Lunar New Year! May this be your best yet, may the Year of the Rabbit be kind to us all!

USEFUL RESOURCE: Here are some greetings for Lunar New Year Wishes.

Written by Kayti Kawachi

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