Year Of The Dragon: Strictly Up-“Scale” Accessories

(Cuff from Spring 2012 Naga Collection by John Hardy. Photo courtesy of John Hardy,

Just when you thought it was finally safe to drop off your party-togs at the dry-cleaners, the new moon on January 23 ushers in the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

Love the books, love the movies, but take our advice and simply skip the dragon-tattoo–you’d regret it in the morning, promise.  And anyway, the world’s most haute designers are itching to get the party started with luxuriously dragon-themed accessories for men and women.

How to get your dragon on? Of course, anything snakeskin, or reptile-printed–even slinky sequins– suggest the powerfully serpentine form of this noblest of zodiac signs. And no need to vault your classic pearls, since dragons and pearls go way back; we are about to enter the year 4709, after all.

Dragons are often depicted chasing pearls, notably on the imperial robes of the Emperor. Depending upon which version of the story you like, the pearl symbolizes eternal wisdom, or is a mysterious emblem for the Dragon’s elusive underwater lover.

With props to the Rats and the Pigs, the Dragon is considered the alpha-sign of the 12 animals of the zodiac. And, in the Chinese tradition, the Dragon is fierce, but benevolent. The exact opposite of those foul-breathed European fairtytale dragons, who do nothing but gobble up young maidens, then spitefully hoard their hidden treasures of gold and jewels instead of inspiring the rest of us to wear them.

dunhill honors the new cycle with prancing dragon sterling silver cufflinks and coordinating watch-fob. And Piaget keeps it fiercely elegant with the Altiplano 38 mm watch, a new limited edition, 18 karat gold timepiece which features a sassy dragon rearing and rippling across its round enamel face, ringed with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds. The Chinese ideogram for the word “dragon” is engraved on the back of the watch-casing, placing dynamic dragon-energy into direct contact with the wearer’s skin at a key acupuncture  meridian. Completing the reptilian theme, the watch is appointed with a gleaming black alligator band.

And just in time for the fireworks and parade, John Hardy introduces a new series of dragon-motif pieces, with the Spring 2012 Naga Collection. These rings, earrings and bracelets crafted of sterling silver and 14 karat, some incorporating red spinels and other gemstones, reflect this luxury brand’s signature rendering of lyrical Balinese decorative style, including reinterpretations of the filigree and granulation techniques.

The most modern and wearable pieces of the collection aren’t full-body dragon images, but instead focus on a stylized scale-pattern, expanding on the theme with a less literal, Art Deco sophistication.

John Hardy’s extra-wide cuff ($1,995) in undulating sterling silver waves tipped with 14 karat gold accents also evokes the aquatic nature of the new year– since it’s a “Water” Year.  The new year is also associated with the color black, making these dragon-accessories the most cosmically correct partners for the basic urban hipster uni or LBD.