Bridging the East and West through her ornate pieces, Cindy Chao has established a name for herself in France through her European headquarter of Cindy Chao The Art Jewel in Paris. The headquarter is also where the Taiwanese high jewel artist presents her Black Label Masterpieces and White Label Collections—some of which have entered some of the world’s most excellent museums and collections— to high-profile collectors from Europe, America and Asia.
Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres
In recognition of her talent and contribution to the world of fine jewellery, Cindy Chao has been appointed the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture. The distinction, which Cindy Chao received from the hands of Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, is an award given to those who have distinguished themselves in the artistic or literary field through their creations and influence.
“Exceptional artist-jeweller you keep pushing the limits of your art. At the crossroads between goldsmith, sculpture and architecture – for the exceptional quality of your works and for your contribution to the life and transmission of the jewellery savoir-faire of our country – we make you a “Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Art et Lettres,” says Roselyne Bachelot, Minister of Culture in France to Cindy Chao during the ceremony.
“France is the origin of high jewellery, and it had a sense to see me before I knew myself. The country gave me courage and determination when no one else gave it to me and recognition along the journey. The distinction brought me an even bigger responsibility to be a bridge between East and West to facilitate a deeper cultural exchange between France and Asia,” says Cindy Chao.
Black Label Masterpieces: Butterfly brooches
Among her many fine jewellery designs, some of Chao’s most celebrated motifs include the butterfly. Also a symbol of expertise in French haute joaillerie, the butterfly is a complex form. It requires an incredible amount of craftsmanship to form the metal and precious stones into ornate wings while maintaining the weightlessness of the creation. For such reasons, few can claim to be a master of this, and thus Cindy joins the exclusive league comprising virtuosos such as the renowned René Lalique from the Art Nouveau movement.
Two notable works from Cindy Chao are the Royal Butterfly brooch and the Ruby Butterfly brooch from the 2008 Black Label Masterpiece I collection. The first, the Royal Butterfly brooch, was welcomed to the gems collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in 2010.
In 2020, the Ruby Butterfly, also from the 2008 Black Label Masterpiece I, was lauded into the collections of the Paris Musé des Arts Decoratifs. Comprising two magnificent unheated Burmese rubies, the brooch was the first 21st-century piece from Asia acquired by the Paris Musé des Arts Decoratifs. There, it is revered alongside some of France’s most celebrated maestros such as René Lalique, Froment-Meurice, Vever, Suzanne Belperron, and Claude Lalanne.
Cindy Chao’s Peony Brooch
Earlier this May, another of Chao’s creations was welcomed into the world-renowned Victoria and Albert Museum. An exquisite piece with ruby petals, the 2018 Black Label Masterpiece XVIII Peony Brooch is part of the family heirloom and a celebration of jewellery making and nature. It was deemed by V&A director Dr Tristram Hunt a “virtuoso celebration of nature’s beauty, as well as a deeply personal piece.” Hunt describes the techniques and time it took to craft the brooch: “The undulating petals studded with rubies, once part of a family heirloom, were first carved in wax, then cast in titanium to create a complex lattice of individual settings that was 10 years in the making … We’re delighted that the Peony Brooch has joined our collection.”
(All images: Cindy Chao The Art Jewel)