Now firmly in the international spotlight, Chinese jewellery designers are commanding astronomical prices at auction, and talent from around Asia and the rest of the world who look to the East for inspiration are also enjoying long overdue attention. The hammer came down at Sotheby’s Autumn Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction at US$5.8 million on the Dunhuang Pipa necklace. The fortunate buyer became the owner of an original piece of haute joaillerie by Anna Hu, a scrolling necklace of white diamonds centred by an intense yellow diamond of over 100ct that doubles as a brooch. The most extravagant diamond sales in Hong Kong in 2019 Its sale contributes to Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad charity and the piece is part of Hu’s Silk Road Music collection, inspired by the Dunhuang Mogao grottoes, as well as the ancient Chinese musical instrument, the pipa. Taiwan-born but with an artistic education that encompasses Christie’s, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston, Hu’s aesthetic reflects her cultural heritage. Her unique works are created in ateliers in Paris and New York. Hu is among a generation of jewellery designers whose ethnicity is Chinese and who draw on the history and symbols of China to create jewellery art, featuring symbols such as dragons, phoenixes, lotus flowers, koi carp, bamboo, peonies and clouds. Yet her jewellery is essentially in the European tradition. Which watches sold for the most in Hong Kong in 2019? Chinese designers who continue to make international headlines at auctions include Cindy Chao, whose namesake brand, Cindy Chao The Art Jewel, continues to be admired for its incredible construction and use of precious gems, as well as its unique look that mingles Eastern charm with Western jewellery-making techniques. Chao’s designs are heavily influenced by nature, with floral playing a prominent role in her collections. Together with the use of top-quality precious stones, the designer has created one-of-a-kind pieces that have made significant noise in the auction world; Chao’s 8.03ct pigeon’s blood Burmese ruby ring sold for an astonishing US$3.84 million at Sotheby’s in 2013. Her designs continue to make headlines for their incredible artistry and regularly surface at auctions. This year, Hong Kong-based jewel master Wallace Chan offered a retrospective of his creations, some with more literal Chinese and religious imagery. The designer is best known for his Zen-like approach to jewellery design and sees each of his creations as a work of art and journey of self-discovery. Cicadas, a symbol of wisdom and purity, are a frequent muse in Chan’s work, as are other historical Chinese themes. Which Chinese bridal jewellery would you pick? “Like many of my creations, I had to make something new to fulfil my own imagination,” he says. “My creations are my reality. To me, they are what is real, what is now. If I can start from zero, then I can capture the value of evolution, creating beauty from nothing.” Animals and creatures with strong links to Chinese folklore, such as the horse, are among the frequent muses in Chan’s designs. His extravagant creations are realised through his pioneering use of gem-setting and gem-cutting techniques, and his use of titanium, which gives an almost weightless quality to his larger pieces. His use of jade alongside gemstones that are more popularly used in Western jewellery-making, such as opal and paraiba, makes for designs that pack a visually colourful and vibrant punch. While Chinese designers seem to have dominated the international stage in recent years, they are not the only ones who have created collections inspired by Chinese and Asian imagery. One of the most lauded exhibits at the October Fine Arts Asia was the jewellery of Moscow-based Ilgiz Fazulzyanov. His Mysterious China collection of unique pieces paid homage to the nation’s history and culture. From Van Cleef & Arpels to Graff: nature’s place in luxury jewellery Fazulzyanov is a grand feu enameller, and works in a great traditional craft which has so few accomplished practitioners today. He has studied the various techniques and crafts often used in Chinese jewellery-making. “But to study only the techniques was not enough to achieve a deeper understanding of the whole culture of the people,” he says. “To create these works, I had to study and channel the architecture, graphics, colour palette, Chinese jade carving techniques and enamel coating techniques, as well as other nuances of the [country with the richest cultural heritage].” His work is extraordinary, not only in design and execution, but in its very conception. For example, The Temple of the Fire Dragon ring, in enamel, diamonds, jade and yellow gold, is square-shaped; The Headdress of the Emperor ring contains a jade ball in a gold openwork dome. Familiar symbols abound. An enamel koi carp is a pendant; earrings framed in diamonds are delicately carved with clouds; pink lotus flowers adorn a ring; and pagodas are earrings with fringes of diamonds. As with Chinese designers working in the European tradition, India has seen the rise of superb jewellers who mine their culture while producing work that transcends it. In a twist on the usual path of Eastern influences, Viren Bhagat saw Indian-inspired jewellery in Bulgari – and had his epiphany. It was fortuitous, because he is one of the subcontinent’s most famous jewellers. Mumbai-based Bhagat works only with exceptional stones, usually diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, and the finest pearls. His style has been described as a fusion of Mughal and 1920s Cartier art deco. This reflects the back-and-forth flow of influences in the 1920s and 30s, when the great Parisian jewellers encountered the fabulous wealth of the maharajas. Art deco influences are still seen in contemporary Indian jewellery, and the opulent tradition is still evident in European high jewellery houses today. Why floral high jewellery by Chinese designers is blooming A look at Hanut Singh’s portfolio shows this synthesis clearly in his pendant earrings. Based in Delhi and New York, Singh has a celebrity clientele for pieces using old stones of Indian origin with a playful design, crafted to the highest European standards. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .