25 Sep 2021
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Has the Pandemic Influenced Anna Hu’s Design Ethos?
Anna Hu talks about how the meaning and perception of luxury has changed over the last few months, popularity of diamonds and more
By: Vijetha Rangabashyam
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Jun 3 2021 9:47AM
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Reference: 25626  

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What paradigm shifts have you seen in consumer’s minds in the last six months?

It really depends on which market we are talking about – in the U.S. and European markets, consumers have still been quite conservative in spending due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They tend to spend their disposable income on essential items rather than luxury goods. However, in Asia, since the pandemic is more under control, people can go out and live a relatively normal life. This, along with the boarder closure, sort of “locks” the money inside these Asian countries. Hence, you can see a surge of sales number in luxury goods in Greater China region for the past six months.

How has the shift in consumption pattern influenced your design process?

It doesn’t really influence my design process much to be honest. My designs are mostly based on the beautiful gemstones I’ve been able to source – I find a stone, and I create based on the inspiration the stone gives me. It’s an artistic process that bear beautiful fruits in the end.

What kind of research do you undertake before creating a collection?

I seek inspiration from nature the most. For example, before I create my Enchanted Orchid Collection, I spent a lot of time studying the different shapes and colors of the orchid flowers. I have a plant and flower encyclopedia at home, and I carefully looked into each detail of the flower before I interpreted the orchid flower in my own aesthetic language. I then play with different gemstones – be it diamonds or colored stones, using them to color my orchids. I use this process to create almost all of my jewellery collections, and it brings me the biggest joy.


Demands and prices for high-quality gem-level diamonds have been rising steadily even during the pandemic as affluent consumers feel the pressure of market downturn less. But in the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised if the market for entry-level regular-quality diamonds has been impacted terribly due to decreased consumer demands.

ANNA HU Enchanted Orchid Earrings in Ruby


What importance have diamonds held in the minds of consumers during the pandemic? Have they increased/decreased in popularity?

It really depends on which level of diamonds or what type of consumers we’re talking about. Demands and prices for high-quality gem-level diamonds have been rising steadily even during the pandemic as affluent consumers feel the pressure of market downturn less. But in the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised if the market for entry-level regular-quality diamonds has been impacted terribly due to decreased consumer demands.


What are some of the significant, popular design trends you have witnessed in the last few months?

From what I’ve observed, jewellery with both aesthetics and functionality are definitely in trend. People are looking for pieces they can wear on multiple occasions, as a necklace, a brooch, or a ring. That is also why I’ve always designed my pieces to be multi-functional. My clients can wear my creations as a necklace or a brooch, for example, and they love the fact that with the same amount of investment, they could receive the value of “more than one” piece of jewel.

What changes have you made to your design aesthetic to suit the current consumer mindset?

I wouldn’t say I have made many changes to my design ethos as my clients have always made it very clear to me that they would like their pieces to be multi-functional. It always brings them pleasant surprises when they see the intricate details that I hide in my designs to make the creations versatile in different ways. This has been a “signature” of my designs – when clients come to me, they know “Anna can always find a way to satisfy their request of owning a piece of ring, pendant and a brooch at the same time”.


 I spent more time connecting and cultivating relationship with my clients through Whatsapp and WeChat. We don’t really do video calls as most clients prefer to have some privacy, but me and my team were able to share my creations with our clients through images and pre-shoot videos on-hand, and we constantly put on new contents on our social media, so our clients could stay engaged with the brand’s latest movement.

ANNA HU Fantasy Garden Earrings in Emerald and Pearl

How important is it for jewellery to symbolize meanings of hope and optimism given the current context?

It is especially important for jewellery to symbolize hope and optimism in every possible way and to bring positive energy to the world. It has always been my belief that diamonds should be serving for the purpose of global unification, and I sincerely wish my creations could even better associate diamonds as a way of doing good. For example, I worked on the “Diamonds That Care” charity project with ALROSA, the world’s largest diamond mining company, in 2020 in order to raise funds for front line health workers during the pandemic. I designed three beautiful pieces inspired by the concept of heart with ALROSA’s brown diamonds to be auctioned by Christie’s. Heart equals care, exactly the emotions that I believe my jewellery creations should bring to people.

Living in seclusion from the society and to not be able to socialize would mean that there is perhaps no need to wear jewellery at all – how have you turned this blip into an opportunity?

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is truly tragic for all human beings, yet it is also a good opportunity for us all to think about the ways we have lived. As a jewellery artist, staying at home and not being able to socialize has given me more time to think about life and the meaning of jewellery making. Before the pandemic, jewellery was created more with the purpose to show taste and status or as investment – all great things, but never was really dedicated to doing good during a global disaster.

Being secluded from the society has actually been a blessing in disguise as I finally have time to look back into the completer jewellery history and review all my creations throughout these 25 years since I first set foot in this jewellery creation journey. I see, I meditate and I have more time to reconnect with my clients all around the world on Whatsapp and WeChat. It prepares me for the booming demands in high-end artistic jewellery once the world opens up again.

What are some of the technological/digital shifts you have made to engage better with your audience?

Like I said, I spent more time connecting and cultivating relationship with my clients through Whatsapp and WeChat. We don’t really do video calls as most clients prefer to have some privacy, but me and my team were able to share my creations with our clients through images and pre-shoot videos on-hand, and we constantly put on new contents on our social media, so our clients could stay engaged with the brand’s latest movement.

Can you give us an example of how you have used data you have obtained to your advantage in terms of getting more conversion rate or creating the kind of jewellery your audience exactly wants?

Although big data now plays an integral part for many businesses to analyze consumer behavior and expectation nowadays, for me it hasn’t really affected the way I create. The main reason behind is that what I offer to my clients is a one-of-a-kind experience. Almost every piece I create is bespoke, which is a collaborative result between me and my clients. They will come to me with an initial idea for the kind of jewel they want and type of the stones they’d like to be in this piece of jewel. Then I provide my first draft of design, and they provide me their feedback

on that draft. We go back and forth until everything is up to the client’s satisfaction before I put my design into production. It’s a very rewarding process as throughout the process I’ve got to learn more about my clients and their stories. This has brought me closer to my clients for sure.

Do you believe the meaning and the way luxury has been looked at changed after the pandemic?

Yes, I certainly do, but it has been changed only to become better. Before the pandemic, jewellery was created more with the purpose to show taste and status or of investment, but now people would look at luxury thinking if the money they spend could make an impact on the society at the same time, or if the luxury houses they support would be willing to do more in terms of giving back or being vocal to social issues.

Sustainability has been such a hot topic, with brands embracing a greener approach to creating jewels. How have you become more sustainable, not just in terms of source gemstones but also your manufacturing process and the whole production cycle?

In my eyes, everything that comes in pure forms without any additional unnecessary decoration are all precious. It could be a beautiful fancy vivid pink diamond, or a piece of dazzling jewellery created with authenticity. When it comes to define things that are precious to oneself, it all comes down to personal experiences – whether it brings you joy and happiness, whether it adds more value to your life, or whether it is just inseparable to you. Of course, I also see everything that comes from Mother Earth as precious, and that’s why I feel so lucky and grateful to have a career surrounded by natural gemstones, the most beautiful treasures in the world.

Especially during changing times like now, I dedicate myself into more projects that gives back to the whole society and Mother Earth. For example, other than the Alrosa project, I was also involved in Prince Albert of Monaco’s Monte Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean with my Leaping Koi Brooch/Necklace in Aquamarine to raise funds and bring awareness in preserving all the endangered lives in the ocean. Coming from a jewellery family and having my father as a diamond supplier, I have always found hope and brilliance when I see natural gemstones, and I feel a need to advocate for the stones, making them sustainable by giving them different lives with remounting and new designs.

The meaning of luxury has changed only to become better. Before the pandemic, jewellery was created more with the purpose to show taste and status or of investment, but now people would look at luxury thinking if the money they spend could make an impact on the society at the same time, or if the luxury houses they support would be willing to do more in terms of giving back or being vocal to social issues.

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