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Royal wedding mania spreads to China

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Jonathan Browning

(Read caption) A factory worker packages an imitation royal ring.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Just five days after the announcement of Prince William’s royal engagement to Kate Middleton, Sam Fisher, manager of Yiwu Unnar Jewellery Company, had designed, modeled, and produced an imitation of the blue sapphire engagement ring that once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. Prince William had used his mother’s ring to propose.

Since then Mr. Fisher has sold thousands of zirconia imitation rings across the United States and Europe for about $4 wholesale. In the West they retail in stores for $30 to $40.

Fisher’s factory, on the east coast of China outside the trading city of Yiwu, is typical of its kind here – simple and efficient and powered by human labor. The workforce is made up mainly of young, unskilled high school graduates, nearly all of them oblivious to the young royal couple and the compelling drama connected to the original sapphire ring.

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The ring is not the only “royal” product Fisher is cashing in on. He has also made commemorative mugs, feathered hairpieces like those worn by Kate Middleton and – perhaps the strangest of them all – miniature soft toy dogs with photo-imposed faces of William and Kate. The explanation given: Prince William was born in 1982, the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Asked about what his next moneymaking scheme will be, Fisher replies, “perhaps some commemorative items for David and Victoria Beckham’s fourth child this summer – and definitely when Prince William is made king.”


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