Mastering the art of high jewellery
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Artist Cindy Chao (right) collaborated with architect Tom Postma to design a movable installation that provided the backdrop for her latest Black Label Masterpieces collection, which debuted at the Masterpiece London fair. Photos: Cindy Chao The Art Jewel

Cindy Chao The Art Jewel’s Masterpieces dazzle at prestigious London art fair

  • The celebrated artist and high jeweller showcased her latest creations at the first in-person Masterpiece London event in three years
  • The 2022 Black Label Masterpieces collection portrays Cindy Chao’s artistic legacy, with architectural pieces set with diamonds, sapphires and rubies
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Following her debut at 2018’s Masterpiece London – where she was the only Asian high jeweller invited to present at the prestigious art fair – Cindy Chao once again exhibited at this year’s fair, which returned to its first in-person event in three years.

The new Black Label Masterpieces showcased this year are just as spectacular as previous pieces in the collection, which were recognised for winning the fair’s Outstanding Object Award in 2018, the Best Jewellery Piece of the Fair in 2019, and the winning exhibit under the Precious Stone category last year.

Displayed in a “mobile museum” setting that befits the artist’s high-calibre pieces – which can be seen on permanent display at the Smithsonian in Washington, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – the new collection of art jewels appear to float amid a mystical forest.

Designed in collaboration with Tom Postma, the Dutch architect acclaimed for his monumental sculptures and high-end, experiential art-related spaces, the movable installation invites visitors to discover the art jewels as if they were walking through a misty, wooded landscape at sunrise.

The creative aesthetic of the booth portrays the combination of Chao’s artistic legacy – her father was a sculptor, her grandfather was an architect – with her craftsmanship, which is steeped in the ancient wax casting process of jewellery making that became widespread in 18th century Europe but is rarely used today. This artisanal skill gives Chao’s creations organic, sculptural characteristics, and the East-meets-West collaboration with Postma, with whom she started working in 2019, reflects her philosophy of fusing Asian design with traditional European craftsmanship.

The design and manufacturing process of the bronze mobile museum display manifests Cindy Chao’s aesthetics, attention to detail and savoir faire. They also provided the perfect backdrop for the artist’s latest Black Label Masterpieces collection, which was unveiled at the London fair.

The Rosé Ribbon brooch from the Black Label Masterpiece VI collection is set with diamonds and 10 different gemstones, including fancy-cut pink and purple sapphires, rubies and garnets.

From the Ribbon collection, inspired by the bow tie that the French King Louis XIV requested nobility to wear as a status symbol, comes the bejewelled Rosé Ribbon brooch, which exemplifies Chao’s family legacy of sculpting techniques, her creativity and exceptional gemstone selection. This polychromatic art piece showcases a seamless arrangement of gemstones that play off against each other, layered on a titanium base. At the heart of this artwork sits a cushion-cut diamond of 1.20 carats and a cut-cornered rectangular-cut diamond weighing 1.06 carats, with a colour gradient of purple-pink hues radiating out in fancy-cut pink and purple sapphires, garnets and rubies.

The show-stopping Gentlewoman Ribbon Cuff, which was seven years in the making, exemplifies Chao’s creativity, craftsmanship and exceptional gemstone selection. Taking inspiration from the formal French cuff, this Masterpiece breaks the boundaries between art and jewellery. Used for the first time in a cuff form, the ribbon motif is rendered subtly as an undulating opening that evokes the faint curl of the lace seam of a delicate fabric, contoured by diamonds at the edge. Depicting the cufflinks are two fancy intense cushion-cut yellow diamonds weighing 6.85 carats and 6.03 carats, while a medley of over 2,700 pink sapphires, yellow diamonds, pink diamonds, rhodolites and purple garnets weave around the curvaceous cuff.

The Gentlewoman Ribbon Cuff, which takes its inspiration from the formal French cuff, was seven years in the making.

The Emerald Waterfall earrings from the Aquatic collection take Cindy Chao’s three-dimensional, multilayered craftsmanship up another level. Two cabochon-cut Colombian emeralds of three to four carats each serve as the apex of a waterfall. The energy and brilliance of cascading water are captured by a flow of over 1,620 yellow diamonds, together with rose-cut diamonds fully paved on the minuscule 1.5mm titanium framework, anodised in green to symbolise the ridges of mountains. Highly skilled artisans with over 10 years of experience in the Cindy Chao atelier carried out this sophisticated 360-degree gem-setting technique. Animating the waterfall is a hidden joint on each earring that ensures movement.

The Morning Dew earrings take inspiration from the organic curves of ivy, and are set with vivid green emeralds and diamonds.

Colombian emeralds take centre stage in the Morning Dew earrings, in cushion-cut shape and vivid green colour, and weighing between 14 and 16 carats each. This Masterpiece from the maison’s signature Four Seasons collection captures the vivid imagery of morning dew on ivy. Embodying the artistry of wax sculpting, complex titanium metalworking and structural engineering that shaped the organic curvature of the ivy and its heart-shaped leaves, the earrings have been crafted to uncompromising standards. Over 2,210 Colombian emeralds, diamonds, sapphires and colour-changing garnets frame the two main gemstones, exuding the harmony and vitality of nature, turning them into wearable works of art.

Other highlights that captured the imagination of visitors include the Black Label Masterpiece Picasso’s Dream earrings, as well as the Hyacinth earrings from the White Label collection.