In the feverish treasure hunt at the heart of The Da Vinci Code, jewelry plays a central role in guiding the protagonists toward the Holy Grail. So when it came to developing the jewels for the cinematic version of Dan Brown’s book, the film’s creative team turned to Michelle Ong (BA 1979 New College), one of the world’s leading jewelry designers.
“When I first read the book, I already had a picture of the pieces in my mind. I was excited to turn it into reality,” says Ong, who produces the exclusive Hong Kong–based Carnet jewelry line worn by movie stars such as Glenn Close, Kate Winslet and Teri Hatcher. “They suggested I wait for their instructions with regard to the pieces, but I decided to send them my own interpretation.” The team loved her vision, and the collaboration began.
Ong has been designing and selling jewelry for more than 20 years, although she didn’t open her retail boutique in Hong Kong’s luxury shopping district until 2003. She says she strives to balance Eastern and Western artistic influences in her pieces, which are all handcrafted and sold in limited quantities.
In addition to the fleur-de-lis cross key pictured here – made of steel, platinum and 18-karat gold – Ong designed a black diamond crucifix pin, a white-gold circle cross and a platinum fleur-de-lis brooch. It took three weeks of “round-the-clock” production in her Hong Kong workshop to finish in time for filming, she says.
Of all the pieces, the cross key sees the most action in the movie. Sophie Neveu, one of the main characters, discovers the key behind a Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Louvre. It is marked with the address for a Swiss bank deposit box, one of many clues leading to the Holy Grail. Carnet hosted the movie’s world première in Hong Kong on May 17 – several hours before the glitterati in Cannes saw it.