Limited-Edition Items Commemorating The Year Of The Dragon
With the new year approaching, over the past few months we’ve seen companies previewing their limited-edition collections celebrating the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar. From ostentatious to understated, blowout to budget, here’s Jing Daily’s guide for anyone looking for that perfect dragon-themed gift.
Rolls-Royce “Year of the Dragon” Phantom and Phantom Extended Wheelbase
Designed at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex by the automaker’s bespoke team, Rolls-Royce’s Year of the Dragon collection is, all things considered, surprisingly understated. One of the only features actually visible on the exterior are two forward-facing dragons hand-painted dragons on the side of each Phantom or Phantom Extended Wheelbase. In the interior, though, dragon iconography proliferates, from hand-embroidered, four-color (tan, golden sand, black and white) accents hand-embroidered on each headrest to a hand-laid dragon inlay in the passenger panel and special tread-plates with “Year of the Dragon 2012″ illuminated by LED lighting.
Reflecting a good dose of insight into the buying habits of wealthy Chinese, Rolls-Royce is offering buyers a choice between modern or traditional marquetry, either of which is laser-cut at the Home of Rolls-Royce and hand-assembled.
Piaget’s “Dragon and Phoenix” Collection
With virtually every major watchmaker incorporating some kind of Chinese element into their new designs this year to cater to one of the world’s most important watch markets, Piaget’s Dragon & Phoenix series may be the most overt gesture yet.
Along with dragon and phoenix engravings, cloisonné and enamel features, Piaget’s new series shows that the watchmaker understands the segment of Chinese buyers who want their timepiece crammed with as much flash as possible. One of Piaget’s Dragon & Phoenix pieces sports an 18 carat white gold dial and a whopping 78 brilliant-cut diamonds. Slated for release next month, the Dragon & Phoenix series will, according to Piaget, be released not only in China but in Europe and North America as well. (Although we’d have to assume most of the buyers in those markets will be Chinese tourist-shoppers.)
The most expensive watch in the collection, the Altiplano Double Jeu, of which the watchmaker will sell only eight, is priced at 2.4 million yuan (US$376,000).
Australian Lunar Coin Series “Year of the Dragon” Edition
Created by the Perth Mint of Australia, the new colored versions of the 2012 Year of the Dragon Gold Coins come in three different sizes and carry limited mintages. Struck in 99.99 pure gold and available in 1 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce versions, the coins will be limited to 5,000 pieces each. The colorized gold coins come packaged in oval-shaped display cases along with numbered certificates of authenticity and illustrated shippers. According to Coin Update:
The reverse design of the 2012 Year of the Dragon Gold Proof Colored Coins features a colored dragon with a representation of the pearl of wisdom. Inscriptions include the Chinese character for “Dragon” and “Year of the Dragon”. The dragon is the only mythical creature included in the Chinese lunar calendar and one of the most popular. People born under the influence of this sign are said to be confident, enterprising, independent, self-assured, brave, and passionate.
On the obverse is the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Inscriptions include the “2012″ date, weight and purity of the coin, and the legal tender denomination.
The Year of the Dragon coins cost US$313.14 (1,988.59 yuan) for the 1/10 ounce version, $728.81 (4,628.30 yuan) for 1/4 ounce, and $2,863.54 (18,184.90 yuan) for 1 ounce.
Shanghai Tang for Nespresso Dragon Collection
Designed by Millicent Lai, who manages the home product division for the 42 Shanghai Tang stores worldwide, the first collaboration between Nespresso and Shanghai Tang features a dragon-emblazoned Nespresso CitiZ coffee machine, cappuccino cup set and special lacquer box for coffee capsules.
As Lai told LifestyleAsia of the Shanghai Tang x Nespresso partnership:
Nowadays, I think the younger generation prefers drinking coffee to tea, especially among Asians. When I go to Beijing, I’m surprised to see so many little coffee shops that are able to do the perfect latte, it’s amazing. You don’t even see that in Hong Kong. I think nowadays because of technology, you don’t really have any boundaries anymore. Coffee, Western food — it’s no longer like, “We’re Chinese, we don’t eat pasta.”
Only 3,000 of the Year of the Dragon coffee sets will be made available in Australia, China, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuwait, New Zealand and Singapore beginning on January 1, 2012.
Swarovski “Year of the Dragon” Jewelry & Accessories Collection
Set to hit stores throughout mainland China in January, Swarovski’s dragon-themed collection includes men’s and women’s watches, accessories and jewelry — thankfully more low-key than some other China-only collections we’ve seen in the past.
US Treasury “Lucky Money Collection”
By far the cheapest thing on this list, this week the US Treasury unveiled a collection of “Year of the Dragon” one-dollar notes. Running for between US$4-6, these uncirculated bills, all of which begin with the serial numbers “8888,” come packaged in red envelopes (红包) printed with the traditional Chinese New Year greeting, “gōngxǐfācái” (恭喜发财). As U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios said at the unveiling of the “Year of the Dragon” Lucky Money collection this week at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in Washington, D.C.:
“The Dragon is considered as the most desirable zodiac symbols, and BEP will offer 108,888 Year of Dragon notes, which is the highest number of notes ever offered for any of the lucky money products.”
The Year of the Dragon “Lucky Money” sets can be purchased through the BEP’s website at www.moneyfactorystore.gov, by telephone at 1(800) 456-3408, or at both BEP Visitor Center locations in Washington, DC and Fort Worth, Texas.