Asia has no shortage of design talent, and pieces by acclaimed jewellery designers from the region have proven to be record breakers at auction.
The recent “Iconic Hong Kong Jewellery Designers” auction by Christie’s showcased a number of pieces by Asian designers Adrian Cheng, Cindy Chao, Edmond Chin and Michelle Ong.
Watch: Christie’s teams up with Asian designers
Each of these designers has a distinctive and recognisable style. Cheng’s multigem suite of jewellery with green tourmalines, rubies and sapphires reflects his appreciation of modern art.
Chao’s collection of a coloured diamond and diamond brooch; a diamond, ruby and coloured diamond ring; and a pair of 29.49ct and 26.81ct Colombian emerald ear pendants – “Snow Peas” – illustrates her penchant for flora and fauna. Chao is the first Asian jeweller to have had a piece – the Black Label Masterpiece Butterfly brooch – inducted into the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s permanent collection.
Watch: Carnet’s jewellery and timepieces are evidence of their creator’s perfectionism
Ong’s multigem necklace, and coloured diamond and diamond brooch, both for Carnet, reflects her soft, silky and ethereal designs and East-meets-West personality.
Also no stranger to Christie’s auctions is Edmond Chin, whose Colombian emerald and diamond “Palmette” necklace, designed for Boghossian, shows his ability to source the finest and rarest coloured gems and diamonds, and to use technologically innovative mounting techniques.
Also garnering international attention is Fujian-born, Hong Kong-raised Wallace Chan, who became the first Asian to exhibit at the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires in 2012. Chan started out as a gemstone-carving apprentice, and now – 40 years on – continues to focus on unconventional creations.
“Everything contributes to my creative concepts,” Chan says, “from the ripples of the lake, to the quivering leaves in the wind.Creation is the carrier of my being.”
A strong Chinese influence is at play in Chan’s work. Inspired by Ming-style furniture, Chan invented an “inner mortise and tenon gemstone-setting method”, allowing diamonds and other gemstones to function as claws to secure gems in place.
Jade has been associated with the Chinese for 8,000 years, and Chan and Chin have created breathtaking pieces with this gemstone.
Chan is credited with the invention of a patented jadeite thinning and luminosity-enhancing technology.
Chin uses jade in many of his works, such as his landscape painting brooch made with carved jade, tsavorite garnets, green sapphires and white diamonds, inspired by a Song dynasty painting.
The creations of the two designers are not made with any market in mind, but Asian – particularly Chinese – buyers have a penchant for collecting their art jewellery pieces.
“Chinese customers have begun to view jewellery from an artistic perspective; jewellery is no longer purely a visual commodity,” Chan explains.
Chin, meanwhile, says of his Chinese clients: “They look for fine stones – delicate, distinctive yet colourful. They are not interested in loud jewellery.”