Chara Wen may not be the most ubiquitous name in fine jewellery, but founder of the label Rachel Wen has been carefully creating high-jewellery pieces for over two decades. Rings, bracelets and stunning timepieces, alongside a handful of other styles, are intricately crafted using only the best materials. When I meet Rachel at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, I get an inside glimpse into the world of Chara Wen and exactly what it takes to produce these extra-special designs.
You launched Chara Wen in celebration of your daughter Krystal’s 18th birthday. Tell us about that.
Actually, I’ve been doing jewellery design for almost 20 years. When my daughter Krystal was a child, she was always following me to see the stones, the jewellery, the design. Krystal was giving me many opinions and always inspiring me. That’s why you will see there is a heart-shape ruby in each piece – it represents love and blessing. It’s a signature. That’s what makes it the best gift for a lover, for a husband, for a wife, or for yourself. It’s a symbol of love and inheritance that I can pass to my daughter and she can pass to hers, generation by generation.
And there are four lines that make up the Chara Wen brand?
Yes; Fashion Muse, Gifts of Love, Earth and Classic. The Gifts of Love collection is the most important and meaningful to me, as it represents the message of love and blessing. The concept of the whole collection is like a precious gift to your beloved. The Earth line is inspired from my surroundings; flowers, trees, nature. Fashion muse is due to my love of fashion! It’s not about trends, or fast-changing ideas, it’s just my favourite elements from fashion, it’s timeless. The Classic collection is inspired by the Art Deco style; very artistic and contemporary. I love Art Deco, but I make it more contemporary and easier to wear.
What else inspires you?
I am inspired by different elements in my surroundings, but it’s not a copy and paste approach, it’s not a 100% concrete copy of what I see. I work in a very artistic way. Every jewellery piece is like art. It’s not traditional jewellery. I have a very professional team that helps me source materials. I like to find very different, very unique stones for each piece.
What do you think about the landscape of Asian fine jewellery, how does Chara Wen fit into this?
My work represents Asian culture. Asian people are always very subtle, so this represents the heritage of Asia. Noble, subtle, elegant: this is the brand spirit of Chara Wen. It is a combination of classic and contemporary styles, we follow the evolution of society and run parallel to it.
Do you rely on age-old artisanal methods of craftsmanship or are you looking at technological innovations in design?
It’s not about the advanced technology and innovation, I prefer to use classic craftsmanship. Each of the pieces are handmade so the craftsmanship is very important. It’s not about using machines. Just like the artist, every piece is handmade. Bespoke jewellery is my main work. It’s very important for a special person, a wife, mother or daughter, that the piece is totally unique. Each piece has only limited quantities, perhaps one or two. It is very time consuming, but this only serves to represent how precious each piece is. It’s not business, it’s a dream.