Chinese New Year with Monica Vinader (+ A Personal Note)

Chinese New Year Monica Vinader
Chinese Lunar New Year Monica Vinader

This Saturday is Chinese New Year, and as I grow older, I enjoy celebrating it and my culture even more. Many of you may know, but for those who do not, I’m Chinese and was born in Hong Kong. Long story short, when I was 6, I immigrated to Seattle and that’s how I ended up here!

I’ve always felt deeply Chinese, but my pride in its rich culture developed over time. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, where I was one of the few Asian people at school. Most of my friends and teachers had a hard time pronouncing my last name: Yuen. “Is it one or two syllables? Yu-en? Yan?” Maybe it’s ironic, but I used to be an English language learner (English is my 4th language), and now I’m a high school English literature teacher. Sometimes my students think my husband is Mr. Yuen, but I always laugh and tell them that’s my dad and that my married surname is “Marino”.

I had a few reasons for not changing my maiden name when I got married. A main one was because I have a strong connection with the Chinese culture through my last name, and I didn’t want it to not be a part of my name. Since my parents had daughters, technically, “Yuen” won’t be passed down, so I wanted to have it with me. My whole family lives in Hong Kong now and we have a long-distance relationship. Keeping “Yuen” was like keeping my family, close, bonded, unbroken, like we are.

That’s why it was so perfect when Monica Vinader approached me for Chinese New Year and suggested that they could engrave a pendant with the Chinese character of my surname. I was so excited about the idea. In order for them to personalize the piece, I had to scan an image of my last name. As I wrote out the characters, I remembered how to write my surname, but I had difficulty remembering the strokes to the other characters in my name. The forgetfulness seemed symbolic, as I often struggle with the loss of my Chinese heritage and language over the years, which is why I value celebrating Chinese New Year more and more.

When I received the engraved necklace, I was so moved. The piece is stunning, in 18k gold with a diamond pendant. But the necklace will forever be special to me because I get to wear an emblem of my family and culture close to my heart, always.

Happy Chinese New Year. 新年快樂!

Monica Vinader Siren necklace

Shop items from this post:

Available at and Nordstrom Downtown Seattle





  1. January 25, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    Wow, this necklace is gorgeous and I absolutely love the meaning behind it. Happy Chinese New Year! x

    Enclothed Cognition

  2. January 25, 2017 / 8:40 pm

    This was such a beautiful post! I really enjoyed your writting darling!

    The pendant is very special!
    Love from

  3. January 26, 2017 / 4:32 am

    Love your post! The necklace is so pretty too. 🙂

  4. January 26, 2017 / 6:15 am

    I love the meaning behind your necklace! Although I changed my last name after getting married, I decided to use my maiden name as my new middle name. It is important for me to keep my maiden name since it is actually my grandfather's first name. 🙂


    • January 26, 2017 / 6:30 am

      I love the idea of keeping your maiden name as your middle name! I've thought about that if I ever did change it. Thank you for sharing!

  5. January 26, 2017 / 7:25 am

    What a lovely story!

  6. January 26, 2017 / 11:45 am

    This necklace is absolutely stunning. I'm so glad you have this perfect piece to celebrate your heritage and your family ties!

    By Lauren M

  7. January 26, 2017 / 11:55 am

    That is so sweet of your friend to understand how valuable this necklace would be to you. Keeping your heritage is such a good value to have as a person. Love the necklace! And it looks so great on you!

    Sincerely Miss J

  8. January 27, 2017 / 11:42 am

    I love that you've held onto your maiden name, what a lovely idea to remain connected to your Chinese culture. Speaking of which, this is such a beautiful necklace – I've been a fan of Monica Vinader jewellery for many years now, and it's a brand that totally suits you 🙂

    (love your other MV jewellery suggestion by the way, a couple of those are already on my wishlist!)

  9. January 29, 2017 / 12:36 am

    My late father's first name was Yuen! Now I want that pendant.

  10. January 31, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    As another female in a family of daughters, I can relate 100% to your reason for keeping your last name. Going through the same thoughts right now as my partner and I start talking through marriage details. Thanks for sharing your story! I had no idea English is your 4th language!!


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