I spotted an exquisite dragon pendant that looked totally unique to me: the dragon had a carved stone of real jade clutched in its paws. David spotted this lilac gem at a jewellery exhibition in Basel last March. The beauty of the hand carved Burmese stone instantly caught the designer’s attention; he had to get his hands on this “heavenly gem”. “The soft lilac colour of the jade is very unusual,” he says. “This combined with the intricate, subtle dragon carving gave the piece a unique and extraordinary beauty. I knew I could do something really special with it.”
Rather than carving on the jade, David Marshall decided to play up the theme of the mythical creature. Indeed, the pendant has an Asiatic design that noticeably contrasts with the jeweller’s other work. He explains this saying: “I have always created different styles and one of a kind pieces. But as a designer I need to showcase core collections at my boutique which represents David Marshall London. Over the years I have designed and made very creative jewels. Now that my boutique is established, I feel this is something I can work on again.” Incidentally, you shouldn’t be put off by the sharp claws and fangs of the dragon: by contrast with European tradition, dragons are worshipped in China and considered kind, wise and merciful to mortals.
When a jeweller holds a stone of unbelievable beauty in his hands, quite a lot of time, as you’d expect, is spent on creating the right piece. “We spent a fair amount of time on the design and around 8 weeks making the setting and finishing the piece,” says David Marshall. “The challenges we faced were during the final stages, the final fitting of the jade carving into the setting and the setting of certain parts of the design such as the dragon claws after the fitting. We had to be very precise and careful not to damage the jade.”
To understand how fragile this stone is and to get advice on how to look after it, I looked to jade specialist Sylvia Quispe at QAS Switzerland. This is how she answered my question: “Jade is 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, so some care should be taken to avoid scratches. The gemstone has exceptional toughness and is very resistant to breaking or chipping.” So how do you look after it? “The correct way to clean jade is with warm soapy water. A small, soft bristled toothbrush is best for cleaning the crevices of carvings.” It’s a real shame that I can’t show you the reverse side of the pendant where you can see how the body of the dragon is encrusted with transparent diamonds. David Marshall doesn’t miss out on a single detail when it comes to his creations. That’s precisely why his clients love him so much.KP