Hong Kong Gold Legend
15/6/2018 - 11/8/2018
Chinese are fond of gold. Gold is essential for daily life in Chinese society: it is used as currencies, kept as assets, and displayed as wealth and status. Gold products are imbued with an eternal intrinsic value.
The exhibition showcases over 60 gold wares by C.S.S. Jewellery, a historical brand of goldsmith business. It provides a unique opportunity to appreciate traditional gold craft and discover how this popular business in Hong Kong evolves throughout the years.
Message from director
Traditionally, our ancestors chose precious metals as currency. Copper coins were the most common yet gold coins were the most treasured. During the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE), gold was abounded in the Chu Kingdom; allowing the first employment of gold cakes or bullions to be traded on the market. Hence, gold bullions assumed its monetary function ever since the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-20 CE).
The legendary Silk Road created transaction opportunities between the eastern and western worlds; including the trade of foreign gold coins and Chinese silk, in common with Chinese gold cakes in exchange of overseas goods such as leather and incense. In view of this, this trade route channeling the East and West may be termed as the “Golden Silk Road”. Today in Ningxia where many Northern Dynasties (386-581) and Tang Dynasty (618-909) tombs are located, foreign coins from the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) and the Sasanian Empire (Persia) can be found. This validates how invaluable gold is; it can stand against time and location as well as life and death. Nomadic tribes such as the Xiongnu, Qidan, and Mongols that were typically rudimentary in economic and cultural development also had a desire for gold. Portable yet precious, gold suited their itinerant and rustic lifestyle and became their most coveted collectable asset.
Indigent people led a frugal life and had a practice of purchasing gold with all their savings in order to prepare for emergency. The affluent on the other hand, accumulated and splurged gold jewellery in order to flaunt their wealth. Historically across the stratum of society, the necessity of gold has made it essential in the Chinese culture.
As people equated gold with wealth, gold products were intrinsically imbued with eternity. The people of Hong Kong were no exception. Since the twentieth century, Hong Kong has been seeing an influx of immigrants due to upheavals in Mainland China, bringing in the affluent and refugees; both buying gold to preserve their wealth. This has led to a booming gold business sector in Hong Kong.
Customers were naturally drawn to reputable goldsmith stores that offered a variety of gold jewellery. Not only were the products of good quality and exquisite designs, a very attractive return policy was adopted - one can return and cash in the gold jewellery items at the store of purchase when deemed necessary.
Over the past century, a flourishing Hong Kong gold industry has been witnessed within which a few brands have emerged and earned domestic and international reputations. C. S. S. Jewellery Co. Limited is one such exemplary example. Throughout its history of eighty years, C. S. S. Jewellery Co. Limited has made indispensable contributions to the gold sector and participated in the unfolding of the unique Hong Kong gold legend.
Our gold legend testifies to the Chinese penchant for gold. Although Hong Kong did not play any role along the ancient “Golden Silk Road” that originated from Chang’an (nowadays Xi’an), she has nonetheless developed her own “Golden Road”! As the hub of gold jewellery manufacturing and transactions, Hong Kong continues to offer gold products that appeal to Chinese people from all across the globe. It is all thanks to her exalted reputation that Hong Kong has made such a remarkable accomplishment in gold production.
Yeung Chun Tong
Editor: Rachel LEUNG
2018, hardcover, Chinese/English, 96 pages, 23.5 x 31 cm
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring over 60 gold wares by C. S. S. Jewellery Co. Limited, a historical brand of goldsmith business.