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Chang & Biorck

Chang & Biorck could be described as China’s version of Marimekko. The Swedish designers behind the brand are inspired by Asian art and architecture and use Chinese materials such as silk, bone china, lacquer ware and Mongolian wool, but their items have a distinctly Scandinavian energy.

Friendship Store

Yes, it old-fashioned and, yes, the service is poor and, yes, the layout of goods is last century. The main reason to go there is for a one-stop-shop look at what is available in the capital city. The state-owned emporium has it all—porcelain, jade, carpets, furniture—at prices that are nonnegotiable. Have a gander, decide what suits your taste, and then head to a specialist store that can offer friendlier service and better prices.

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Hong Qiao Pearl Market

A multistory mall that has just one main featured product—pearls—of differing color quality. Treat it a visit as a fun exercise rather than a serious pearl-buying expedition. The pearls are presented in hundreds of ways, and those with Chinese-style designs and motifs make smashing souvenirs or gifts, regardless of their provenance or quality. This is New China in action, where the state and a free market collide. The stallholders appear to be entrepreneurs, instead of state employees, judging by the way they persuasively approach shoppers with well-honed spiels, in the kind of stilted textbook English that is so pervasive in China. Still, all you need to be an effective entrepreneur is a decent sales pitch and the ability to convert from renminbi (it translates as “people’s money”) to dollars in a flash. Some of the individual-stall jewelry designs are funky, while the upper-level stores are swankier places for more serious pearl connoisseurs. Along the sides of the cavernous floor are closed-in stalls selling memorabilia and knickknacks.

Editors' Picks

Qianmen Carpet Co.

The store stocks a wide selection of China’s finest rugs, from classical designs to ethnic variations from Tibet and Xinjiang, both antique and more contemporary. Ironically, local Chinese tend to favor modern European designs in their homes, while tourists like the Old China style.

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Tranquil Tuesdays

Founded by American Charlene Wang, Tranquil Tuesdays not only sells Chinese tea but also beautiful teaware from its shop located in one of Beijing’s old hutongs. Wang has created a shop, which is part business, part social enterprise: it is staffed by women, many of whom are underprivileged migrant workers or have troubled pasts. Tranquil Tuesdays also aims to support local craftsman. The store has exclusive teaware collections designed by artists based in Jingdezhen, China’s ancient porcelain-crafting capital.

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