06 Jun 2020
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A Gem from the Far East
Anna Hu
By: Diamond World News Service
Apr 30 2019 3:05PM
Reference: 19189  

Her jewellery is a riveting confluence of the East and the West, with gemstones that are rare and miraculous. Anna Hu talks to Vijetha Rangabashyam about how she translated her love for music to gemstones, the chemistry she shares with her artisans, creating a high jewellery empire led by an Asian woman and more.

Over the years, the Far East has produced jewellery designers who have moved mountains to create fascinating pieces of jewellery. They’ve always created pieces that are larger than life and so alive with precision that is unreal. In this rank of designers or shall we say artists, is New York-based Taiwanese jeweller Anna Hu, whose brand also happens to be the first contemporary high jewellery brand to host a solo exhibition at Christie’s. An ace cellist who has played with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Hu decided to make something of her dalliance with gemstones after a shoulder injury from over-practicing. “I was born and raised in a family that has been into gemstone business. When I was little, I had always stayed with my father, helping him sort out different types of gemstones by shapes, colours, sizes and cuts; it was just like playing with Lego bricks but with gemstones,” she says.

Her vivid green ‘Orpheus’ ring with oval jadeite cabochon fetched 20 million HK dollars (€2 million) at Christie’s. We still feel the heat of her electric red ‘Fire Phoenix’ earrings worn by actress Gwenyth Paltrow with two gigantic cabochon Rubellites set in a blaze of white and yellow Diamonds, blue, pink and purple Sapphires, Spinels, Paraiba Tourmalines and white gold. This is what she best does, creating headline grabbing jewels that are seldom forgotten. “It was my father who encouraged me to take a different path in life, telling me that I have always had a talent in gemstones and colours since I was born. Once I started studying jewellery design, I felt enlightened. Maybe God gave me a destiny not to be a player, but a composer. Every stone from a geologist perspective is equivalent to musical notes in a composition. Creating music and jewellery are fundamentally the same to me. I analyze the stones with pure logic; and as in the music field, I transform this logic into a creative designing process.”

When she was 13, Hu was given a full scholarship by the Taiwanese government to attend the prestigious Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. During this time, she also studied sculpture, ceramics, photography, musical composition and visual art. She then finished her studies in GIA, Parsons, FIT and Columbia, garnering several degrees in a span of 5 years. Before launching her eponymous label, Hu worked at Christie’s, Van Cleef & Arpel’s and Harry Winston. “I am always looking to grow and outdo my current self, so my vision reflects that. I will be designing rare, artful jewels for at least another 50 years. There are too many male-dominated jewellery houses. As the only Asian jeweller admitted into Le Comité de la Haute Joaillerie, Paris and to be featured on the official couture calendar in Paris, I would like to build an ever-lasting Asian female-led jewellery house that will flourish forever.”

In her latest book “Symphony of Jewels: Opus 2” Hu presents a selection of iconic pieces created over the past five to seven years. Organized in five sections, Opus 2 begins with a collection of ballerina fairies, delicate dancers swathed in flowerinspired tutus. Chinese art, myths, and symbols, ranging from leaping koi to lotus flowers representing the power and transformation, are the inspiration for the second section. The next chapter “Duet and Trio” showcases gorgeous two- and three-piece sets featuring magnificent matching stones. The Contemporary Art section consists of extraordinarily imaginative, complex pieces referencing a wide range of themes, from the sun, stars, and moon to the ocean and marine flora and fauna, to the Art Deco architecture of New York. The book ends with the remarkable collection of butterflies, each inspired by a beloved piece of music and a mythological god or goddess.

From cherry blossoms, lotuses, orchids and butterflies to impressionism, her reflection of nature through design is profound. “Everything I see in daily lives while I travel inspires me. To be more specific, elements such as impressionist colours, details of a dragonfly’s body and its transparent wing, textures, musical instrument of the Silk Road such as Pipa are all examples of my inspiration. There are also inspirations from certain pigment of colours, literature, motifs from paintings, nature and architecture; in fact, I have always woken up in the middle of the night with all kinds of fresh ideas.”

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