My grandparents Wook and Shay Yung Moon opened their first antique and jewelry store in Honolulu’s downtown during the early 1940s, where up for offer among the china and Buddhist statues were floral and tiki ivory charms hand carved in a small room by my grandfather in the back of the store. Slightly surprised, my grandfather soon saw his carvings becoming quite popular with locals, tourists and GI’s on their way to and from the Pacific. Of course this success did not pass unnoticed by my grandmother, for it was she who urged him to focus more on designing jewelry rather than trading in antiques. Over the following years my grandparents with the ever supportive contributions of family members and staff, were able to transform that small antique cum jewelry store into the reputable brand name firm from Hawaii we have all come to know today as Ming’s.
By the time Ming’s closed its doors in 1999, the firm was indeed one of the most popular and premier jewelers in the islands, appreciated by local patrons, tourists and international collectors not only for its fine craftsmanship, original designs, and splendid jades and pearls, but I think for something more than that. I can only liken it to that comforting feeling which comes over you when first glimpsing the islands from above rising out of the Pacific, or seeing those cool rain clouds drifting in slow motion over luscious green valleys.... that ‘something more’ we call Hawaii.
One of Ming’s most unusual and appealing lines was the Dragon Phoenix pierced gold line. All pieces originally interpreted and designed by my grandfather using Chinese symbolism to give rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets a powerful and exotic appeal. The dragon, phoenix, plum bird, lotus, chrysanthemum, peony and auspicious Chinese characters giving blessings of long life and good fortune were all used as motifs in this jewelry. We are delighted that many of the original artisans who were instrumental in creating the Dragon Phoenix line are with us today as we reintroduce this renowned collection and once again call on the rich traditions of Asia-Pacific to create superb pieces of craftsmanship that are sure to become heirlooms to be treasured for generations to come.