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Antwerp welcomes DRC minister of mines

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Diamcor diamonds fetch an average price of $192.07/ct

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JUNWEX Moscow will be held at the end of October

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22 october 2021

Lucapa improves core-earnings guidance as diamond industry recovers

Lucapa Diamond has reported a significant upgrade to its 2021 full year attributable guidance, which sees its full-year EBITDA increase by about 45% to between A$26 million and A$28 million following solid operational performances from both the Lulo...

22 october 2021

History of Jewelry Business in South Korea

07 october 2008

South Korea is a country with a developed economy and original culture located in East Asia. In their outward appearance, the Koreans look very much like their neighbors – the Chinese and Japanese. However, there is a substantial distinction in the Korean character and etiquette – they are peaceful, non-aggressive in relations with others and disposed to reconciliation.
Korea’s historic tempo is surprising by its singularity. During one thousand years this country lived as if in a sleep and then in a matter of several dozens years it went through colossal transformations both in the economic and cultural planes. This makes it essentially different from the cyclic processes of sluggish modernization in China; or from the extinction of the neighboring nomadic (Hunnish-Manchurian) civilization; or from the linearly irregular progress in the countries of Europe.

Of all the “small” states in East Asia, Korea was traditionally most close to China. The Chinese classic culture was at all times held in reverence in Korea. It is no wonder that the Chinese Confucian concept of the “Mandate of Heaven” was accepted there without any reservations and doubts.
The history of Korea’s jewelry business is radically different from the European centrist tradition. Jewelry articles proper as perceived by Europe (in terms of manifestation of one’s individuality) have secondary significance. In Korea, items made of precious metals and gems are to perform fist of all a function of social identification and symbolize religious aspirations of a member of the Korean society.
In Korea, the culture of using jewelry gold and silver as well as gems (amber, pearls, coral, jade and amethyst) dates back to many centuries ago. This was because despite its long-term commercial isolation Korea had and used its own deposits of these minerals.

Its national jewelry images and predilections find their concentrated expression in state regalia, royal ritual adornments and ceremonial attires of supreme dignitaries. The Korean elite and grassroots simply copy the high fashion samples, naturally in a more modest way.
Outstanding pieces of the Korean jewelry art are collected at the National Treasury (a counterpart of the Russian Diamond Fund).  The gold crown of the Silla epoch (the 5–6th century A.D.) is the most famous Korean jewelry article. It should be said that it is absolutely unlike European crowns and carries unusual symbolic charge. Incidentally, this is not a kind of state regalia passed over by inheritance, but a funeral headgear. The Silla Crown looks like having two parts – one turned to the front and the other to the back, which are fixed to the forehead hoop. The back part consists of two vertical gold plates depicting a bird’s wings. They resemble Hermes’ wings on his popular images. Evidently, the wing symbolism in both cases is similar, meaning fast-taken decisions and their impetuous implementation. The front part of the crown has a very elongated vertical composition. The main structure of the crown goes upwards from the middle part of the forehead and resembles a tree, whose central trunk has three rows of styled branches. Their form resembles the Chinese hieroglyph “chul.” The tree is decorated with pendants of jade resembling fruits. Behind the tree there are two antlers-shaped projections. Two rows of gold open-work pendants go down from the forehead part to the shoulders (three pendants in each row). The lateral pendants are three times longer than the superciliary pendants. The main hoop and vertical elements of the crown are graced with engravings in gold and besides they bear gold petals and comma-shaped hemispheric jade beads fixed to them by gold wire. Evidently, all this complex structure jingled, sparkled and looked iridescent. It is difficult to offer a judgment on its symbolic meaning. Scientists believe that arborous forms symbolize a cosmic or universe tree fed from cosmic energy, while the antlers echo noble divine service in honor of the deer in ancient Korea. There is no need to remind that in Europe the symbolic horns behind someone’s head mean something opposite.

Other gold pieces in the Korean Treasury are also marked by great jewelry art: belts decorated with ornamented pendants, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and sword settings. Chrestomathy-famous are the earring pendants made of gold and gilded bronze (also belonging to the Silla period). Their main element is arranged of hollow hemispheres whose surface is fragmented in hexagons and “pockmarks.” Flower-tradition-styled pendants are fixed to the hemispheres by chunky rings. The surfaces are graced with tula and gold seeded into enamel. Generally speaking, the techniques of tula and gold seeded into enamel emerged in Ancient Egypt and, as many scientists believe, they were passed over to Korea from India and China.
Hair adornments were an important part of women’s costumes. Pins that fastened women’s hair and simultaneously embellished their hairdo occupied the main place among them. The hair pin as an adornment is a typically Korean feature. Sets of pins and their shapes varied being styled to hairdo types, which of course strictly correlated to this or that occasion in women’s lives. There were two hairdo types, rather bulky, used most often which included both chignons and pieces of wood (to build up the volume). Due to this reason the pins were quite sizable more resembling daggers.

The ttolchcham- type pins were decorated with tips in the shape of a jade plate – oval, rectangular or cut as a flower or butterfly. The plate surface was wholly encrusted with exquisite lace of gold wickerwork with large and colorful inserts of gems or pigmented glass. The pins were graced with figures depicting birds, flowers, and butterflies fixed on the ends of thin wire springs so that they vibrated at the slightest turn of one’s head. This was why the pin was named ttolchcham meaning “a trembling pin.” Russian traveler P. Shmidt, who visited Korea in 1900, said that “waiting-ladies there make up utterly incredible hairdos interlacing whole wooden hoops into their hair and embellishing their heads with almost yard-long pins.”

Korean women balanced off the bans on luxury introduced by rulers within the frames of the Buddhist religion and Confucian moral. Korean rulers repeatedly issued decrees forbidding the use of precious metals and gems by anyone but nobility. Sometimes, these decrees were meant for all the strata of the Korean society. Thus, the decree issued by ruler Yeonsangun ordered young wives not to put on gowns made of imported Chinese silk as well as adornments made of gold, silver, pearls and jade even for the ceremony welcoming their husband’s parents.
However, there were no ideological prohibitions for the graphic range of adornments at any time. Although, the common rule limited the number of public events where one could use this or that adornment. For instance, dragon-shaped pins associated with supreme authority were worn only by the ruler’s wife or by the crown prince’s wife. Grand ladies had the right to wear such pins only during wedding ceremonies. Phoenix was in the second place in terms of prestige. It was considered the first one among birds. The Koreans believed that phoenix could fly only to those countries where there was piece and well-being under the governance of a wise ruler. Phoenix feathering color symbolized the most important Confucian virtues.

Along the hair pins, there was another type of nation-wide adornments, which were norige pendants. Since Korean clothing had no pockets, pendants were functional things made as gold bells of happiness, boxes containing incense, chopsticks, small daggers, cases for needles, and hieroglyphs (of happiness, longevity, wealth, piece and harmony). Jewelry materials used were the same – gold, silver, and local gemstones.
Korean attitude to rings is of singular character. Married women wore two similar rings at once, which symbolized inseparable connection between husband and wife. Unmarried women wore one ring. Chunky rings symbolized the honor and fearlessness of Korean women. Rings put on different hands had a peculiar feature – they could be locked together if one’s fingers were clasped. There was a case when an abused Korean woman enticed a Japanese officer to a rocky river bank and chaining her rings into a deadly lock fell together with her rapist into the river vortex.
Finally, there is another specific type of Korean adornments – the tanchu buttons. In the traditional Korean costume the function of buttons was limited and their role was played by ribbons – ties and belts. This made the function of buttons decorative. In Korea they were spread only in the beginning of the 20th century. Buttons were used to embellish women’s jackets and men’s waistcoats. One could come across buttons shaped as a peach, chrysanthemum flower, butterfly and bat.
Lastly, we have to emphasize that adornments in Korea were and are an important part of the family property. They were always treated with great care and passed over from one generation to another.

Role of diamonds
Diamonds are alien to the Korean jewelry tradition. Apparently, rough diamonds (or polished diamonds) as components of jewelry pieces became known only… from the end of the 20th century under the evident influence of the cultural tradition of the United States. Since the period of polished diamonds consumption is historically negligible, there is no sense to speak about this subject in terms of mentality or national traditions. Although one thing is clear: diamonds have entered the mainstream fashion because people of middle income purchase enormous quantities of fianits and other imitations of natural jewelry-quality diamonds.

Vladimir Teslenko