For six years, jeweller Kai-Yin Lo lived in an exquisite apartment overlooking Hong Kong Park. She loved it: in fact, she still yearns for its light spaciousness. Although she was happy in her home, there were frustrations with her business and her fung shui man announced she should move. 'He said that the corner of the Bank of China would chop me up,' she recalls. 'And it certainly was looming over me.' Still, she deferred her compliance with his decree for three years until 1994 when she finally left. Now she lives in another beautiful apartment with aquamarine walls and the sound of running water. The blockages, of course, have somehow been resolved. Whether or not you believe in fung shui (Ms Lo calls it 'a very ancient proto-science, not mumbo-jumbo at all'), there is no doubt that late-20th-century mankind has been obliged to reconsider its relationship with the entire natural world, through desperation (and, if you're very unlucky, the smoke of Indonesia's fires) if nothing else. Indeed, the World Wildlife Fund - set up 35 years ago to help protect Earth's living things - has had to widen its remit to include forests, freshwater systems and oceans. Now known as the World Wide Fund for Nature, it approached Ms Lo a year ago to design a new symbol. Ms Lo has taken her feeling for the past - she has always loved history - and her evident respect for the natural world, seen and unseen, and come up with a 'cosmic symbol' for the WWF. It will be unveiled in December and incorporated into a unisex lapel pin to be presented by the WWF as a goodwill gift on special occasions around the world. Meanwhile, next Wednesday, her own Nature Collection for the WWF goes on sale at Lane Crawford and in the three Hong Kong shops that bear her name. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the WWF. The Nature Collection is in sterling silver, 18-carat gold and feit'sui, or imperial green jade. Starfish and dolphins and pandas and diamond streams twinkle across bright circles of jade. 'I used that roundness because in ancient times, and not just in Chinese culture, the universe was considered round and the Earth square,' she says. Behind her, displayed on a shelf in her apartment, is a Neolithic pi - a circular stone disc with a hole in the middle - which was used to symbolise the heavens. Alongside it is a more sophisticated Han Dynasty pi. Chinese artefacts have always fascinated her. Her own professional career has, in its own way, come full circle. She 'fell into' jewellery accidentally, having studied medieval history at Cambridge and London universities. Only in 1974, when she was in New York, working in the public affairs department of Time Incorporated, she was tempted to submit designs to Cartier, whose windows she passed each day on her way to work. The eight initial pieces were made of old jade, amber and coral. 'My first love was antiques, that's how I became involved,' she says. 'Now I'm coming back to that.' In fact, when Sotheby's mounted an exhibition, called A Tale of Three Cities in London earlier this year - an exhibition highlighting three centuries of Sino-British trade in the decorative arts in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong - the jewellery of Kai-Yin Lo was part of the display. Despite her lack of training in a formidable profession, she too has become a collectible. Even her trademark quirks have sprung from this passion for accumulating the past. Her work betrays little obvious symmetry because, as she once explained to her friend Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune, 'as a collector of Chinese antique, I realised how difficult it is to find pairs. Now I have long ceased to want to match.' This goes some way towards explaining her predilection for odd shoes: she is never seen in a matching pair. (She buys several boxes simultaneously so that she can instantly mix the contents.) Neither does Ms Lo feel a pressing need to wear identical earrings. Or even to marry. But the past is not always what today's customer wants to wear tomorrow. Ms Lo has had to move a long way from the chunky character of those spirited pieces of 20 years ago. 'Now, if you want to cross borders, you can't be 'ethnic',' she observes, frankly. 'The market won't accept it and, after a couple of collections like that, the design becomes narrower and narrower. So I had to find a broader language, to be clean and more contemporary. And now for me, after much blood and sweat, the big market is Japan, and in Japan you can't be ethnic. You cannot.' She has had to restructure her whole business thinking since 1994, when she became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Egana International, which specialises in watchmaking and distribution. It has 3,000 outlets in Germany. 'I am a boutique type,' says Ms Lo of her retail personality. 'They are mass-market. But I had opened a factory in China in 1992 and it was killing me. I'm not made to run a factory, and they took over and relieved me of that administration.' Last year, she pulled out of the United States where she had been selling in such high-end-of-the-market stores as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. 'The presidents of all these companies were coming to me and saying: 'Why?' and I said that I just couldn't afford to do business there any more. At the height of it I was selling in 29 Neiman Marcus stores, and trying to keep track of that . . . well, you start to think, what price glory? 'I began to fear New York. Now, when I go there, at least it's enjoyable.' Amid the commercial pressures, design and travel (she had just returned from an overseas trip when she gave this interview and said that she had not slept for four days), she harbours dreams of going back to university and studying the less-demanding past once more. 'I don't need to possess any more things, I want to exchange ideas,' she says. So Ms Lo has lent her collection of Song porcelain to the Denver Art Museum and her Ming furniture to the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. She gives occasional talks on Chinese painting and furniture in Hong Kong: 'That's very fulfilling for me, very important.' But she will also keep designing jewellery, using the inspiration of the uncluttered past to raise money she will devote to make the future a less polluted one. 'Ancient symbols are very, very simple,' she says, stroking the Neolithic pi. 'I like these clean, fluid shapes.'