Byline: Holly Haber
The ancient Chinese philosophies of the I Ching and feng shui form the basis of a jewelry collection that was introduced last month by Asian expert Donna Collins.
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book of divination, and feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of architecture and arranging objects for maximum energy flow and prosperity.
What does that have to do with jewelry? Working with semiprecious stones, pearls and antique carved ivory, Collins has created necklaces that represent the Chinese zodiac, the trigrams of the I Ching and eight aspirations that each correspond to one of five core elements: water, earth, fire, wood and metal.
Each person, Collins explained, has a corresponding element depending on what year they were born. The philosophy behind her line is that customers can accentuate their personal energy by wearing jewelry that represents to their element.
Collins calls her jewelry “feng shui for the body” and uses as a symbol of her collection a Sanskrit amulet that translates to, “Behold the lotus blossom within.”
“It’s about understanding how each person has a specific energy and how to bring out its best,” Collins explained. “Certain colors drain your energy, and other colors enhance it.”
Collins has created three necklaces strung of stones that represent each of the eight energies: water, earth, thunder, wind, heaven, lake, mountain and fire. When the three necklaces are worn together, they symbolize the I Ching trigram that relates to each of the five core elements.
For instance, the energy for a woman born in 1952 is thunder. Collins has created three necklaces made of the stones that correspond to thunder and its core element: wood. The stones are green jade, yellow aquamarine, peridot, amazonite and silver Bali beads. Each of the necklaces costs $400 to $700.
Collins also offers less expensive versions that each represent an element or that incorporate various Asian totems, such as a silver Tibetan prayer wheel and antique carved Chinese turquoise. These sell for $50 to $150 and are strung from an array of beads, including antique Venetian glass, leopard agate, pink agate and silver Bali beads.
“The ones that people are drawn to are what’s best for them,” says Collins. “When you wear them, it makes you perk up. It’s like there’s some kind of magic. I’ve had people get goose bumps and cry when they put on the necklaces.”
To help explain her jewelry, Collins has created a booklet to help people discover their elements. The booklet includes charts that reveal which elements correspond to each year, as well as explanations of which stones correspond to each element. She is also beginning to do trunk shows in which she can work directly with customers to explain her line.
Collins said she’s been intrigued by Asian arts since she was six years old and her father brought her an Oriental outfit from Vietnam. She specialized in Oriental art and philosophy in college and began studying feng shui seven years ago. Since then, Collins has been advising people on how to design their homes and offices to maximize the benefits of feng shui.
Collins also spent four years creating custom pottery and furnishings for the royal family in Saudi Arabia, fashioning objects such as 24-karat gold leaf paper towel holders, garnished with quartz crystal and amethyst.
Collins does not take lightly her adaptations of Asian arts to jewelry making. When pointing out that the philosophies on which her jewelry designs are based date back 5,000 years or more, she said she has been scrupulous in interpreting them accurately.
“It has a real power to it,” she asserted. “This is not hocus-pocus stuff.”