September 15 2011
Michelle Ong’s exquisite, to-order-only jewellery pieces have been a secret source of show-stopping gems for south-east Asian women for some years. Coming from one of the world’s most buoyant jewellery markets, Ong – who founded her Carnet label in 1985 – did not rush to sell her designs in the west, but last year she began to take private commissions here. So successful was her visit that she has now returned with the first London retrospective of her work, which will be in the main gallery at Asia House in central London from September 15-24 and includes a number of pieces for sale.
As precise and elegant as her work, Michelle Ong trained in the diamond industry but has no formal design background – she started experimenting because she could not find pieces in Hong Kong that she wanted to buy. Her jewellery is usually inspired by natural forms, with a subtle take on her Asian heritage, and a lacy filigree of gem-set white gold, used to depict anything from a butterfly’s wing to a flower petal, has become her trademark. Even large pieces are characteristically delicate. With a gem dealer as her business partner, the quality and range of her stones is exemplary.
She also runs her own children’s charity, the First Initiative Foundation, which benefits from sales of her jewellery.