Cindy Chao ingeniously blends ancient sculptural craftsmanship and architecture to her delicate and ravishingly beautiful creations. Taiwan’s fine jeweller speaks exclusively to us about her labours of love and how she does not compromise to make what can possibly be described as the most beautiful jewellery in the world.
Talk us through your “Black Label Masterpieces.”
“Black Label” is my exclusive series that highlights the masterpieces of CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel. The most extravagant designs, merged with the rarest gemstones, are forged into life by the brand’s innovational and dedicated art craftsmanship. Each one of my artworks is custom-made and is one of a kind, featuring rich structural layering and 360 degree composition. These quality masterpieces each require 24-36 months from conception to completion, thus the “Black Label Masterpieces” are only available for viewing in museums, via exhibitions or by appointment only during prestigious private viewings.
Nature plays a big role as the theme for your jewellery.
Nature is mesmerising because it is always in the passing. It is that brevity that makes it the more intense and captivating. Yet, every evanescent moment is so very subtle. What I try to do with my creations is to capture the fleeting moments, a frosty maple leaf in early winter dawn, a midnight rose, a whimsical flower in the wind, and I endeavour to do so by using the toughest and most timeless material, diamonds and precious gemstones. They are completely opposites but also the perfect blend.
Where are your pieces made?
For several years now there have been a few ateliers in Geneva and France working exclusively with us, especially focusing on the creation of my “Black Label Masterpieces.”
Talk us through your method of working.
My design process is laborious but extremely rewarding, as we are involved in all the details from wax moulding, design and setting, to the final production. The typical design process starts first with my inspiration, and then I hand-carve and sculpt the wax model. The benefit of wax sculpting is I can carve the curves, the undulations, layers and the silhouette that I want my pieces to take form. On the wax, I can structure the piece in detail from every angle, giving it the rich depth that a simple design sketch could never contain.
Once the wax models are completed, we create sketches to help our diamond setters and master craftsmen to visualise the colours of the final art jewel.
Do you accept to do any commissions?
The number of custom-made art jewels I accept to take each year is limited to 12 pieces globally, with strict artistic guidelines that must be followed. As I create a customized piece for a client, I would like to create a unique piece for the client through the way I see her personality, so that the art jewel brings new meaning to the client but at the same time being part of her life story as well. My collectors understand my creative process and are looking for a unique, artistic creation, not a replica of something they have already seen.
Your elaborate jewellery art certainly must have an appreciative audience in the Middle East.
I have been blessed with great admirers of my work within the Middle East. Arabic women have an innate sensitivity to such detail and an understanding of beauty, which correlates into my art jewels. From my observation and exposure of Arabic architecture and interior design, I believe the Arabic culture as a whole has an open mind to bolder designs and a vibrant use of colours, with a strong appreciation for detailing. These influences are further translated into their love of jewellery, with an abundance of colour, audacious designs and exquisite gemstones.
So what are your favourite precious stones to work with?
Definitely emeralds, however I have a great sensitivity towards diamonds with the way they dance and evoke a sense of awe and brilliance when exposed to light. The contrast that can be achieved when working with these gemstones, bringing to life each art jewel in its own unique matter is something I continue to strive to embody and make a priority.
With all the awards and accolades you have received, what has been the proudest moment for you?
The induction of my 2009 “Black Label Masterpiece Royal Butterfly” brooch into the Smithsonian National History Museum remains a great honour. The museum has the world’s largest gem collection, but mostly period pieces or gemstones.
If you did not choose this line of work what else would you see yourself doing?
Coming from an artistic family, with my grandfather an architect and my father a sculptor, I was trained, from a young age, to see the world in a three dimensional way, taking into account each angle, form and expression of what I observed.
When I went to New York to study, I enrolled into interior design. My mother thought being an interior designer and working with the contractors was too much sweat for a female and insisted that I express my artistic ideas through another medium. Due to her resolution, I transferred to jewellery design. Soon, I realized that a piece of jewellery was very much like miniature architecture.