I’ve become rather familiar with the work of jewellery artist Cindy Chao having covered her for years, but it’s amazing the kind of effect seeing her pieces in the flesh still has on me. The images we see on paper–or on the screen for that matter–regardless of how sharp and true to their form as they are, really don’t do them justice.
Last week, Chao brought four of her Black Label Collection pieces to her private showroom in Central, to give select media and prospective buyers a chance to see them up close. Three of those pieces, if not for the pandemic, would have been across the globe in the United Kingdom for Masterpiece London, a highly prestigious exhibition Chao has been participating in for the last two years. This year, the exhibition was not entirely cancelled but went online from 22-28 June instead.
For the occasion, Chao’s showroom located at a building in Central that offered sweeping views of the Victoria Harbour, was filled with fresh foliage that opulently decorated every corner of the space, and crept up the glass displays that held the jewels. Chao also presented a selection from her White Label Collection, or jewels that can be reproduced and in some instances are smaller, subtler versions of her usually larger-than-life Black Label pieces. These White Label pieces are considered Chao’s entry-level jewels, which would cost upwards of US$50,000 (or approximately HK$385,000).
There was much to take in at the exhibition but below are three of my highlights that stood out.
2019 Black Label Masterpiece X Emerald Ribbon Brooch
The 2019 Black Label Masterpiece x Emerald Ribbon Brooch is set with an extremely rare 38.68-carat vivid green Colombian emerald. The octagonal-cut emerald sits at the centre of four, multi-dimensional, organically shaped ribbons encrusted with over 2,600 gems, and its edges set with sapphires and colour-changing alexandrites. As seen in many of Chao’s previous Black Label Masterpiece jewels, the Emerald Ribbon Brooch’s upper layer is fitted with a flexible mechanism, allowing the piece to have a trembling effect when worn.
2020 Black Label Masterpiece VI Reflection Bangle
It’s in pieces like the 2020 Black Label Masterpiece VI Reflection Bangle that we see Cindy Chao live up to her jewellery artist label. Here, she skilfully combines her vision, innovation and craftsmanship. The Reflection bangle is inspired by Chinese landscape paintings and pays homage to her heritage while looking to the gracefulness and agility of water for inspiration. The piece is set with seven 8- to 18-carat purplish, non-heated Ceylon sapphires, which are set alongside a cluster of rose-cut sapphires, creating a mirror effect. Water ripples are made with white and fancy-coloured diamonds sprinkled on either side of the bangle, while a branch-like motif is set with over 1,500 yellow diamonds.
White Label Collection Branch Bangle
Hailing from Chao’s White Label Four Seasons Collection, the Branch Bangle is a wrist-worthy piece that’s elegant, sophisticated, and for those who favour more subtle pieces, is just the perfect jewel to have. The bangle is encrusted with 1,114 white and yellow diamonds totalling over 52 carats, and made in 18K white gold and rose gold.