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The Wings of Love

Cindy Chao’s remarkable new Amour Butterfly Brooch combines rarified artistic vision and technical wizardry to striking effect

Few events in the jewellery world create as much anticipation as the announcement of a new Annual Butterfly brooch from CINDY CHAO the Art Jewel. Emerging from its creative chrysalis, the new piece reveals the results of Cindy Chao’s latest research into materials and techniques, for she does not believe in relying on the familiar.


Apart from each one being a butterfly, there is no overall theme – each is unique and displays a perfection and attention to detail that takes years to achieve. The newest work, the 2023 Black Label Masterpiece I Amour Butterfly Brooch, will form the centrepiece of the Meld in Light and Shade exhibition at Opera Gallery in Hong Kong from 18 October to 28 October 2023.


2023 Black Label Masterpiece I Amour Butterfly Brooch



This is only the tenth Annual Butterfly to appear during nineteen years of the house. Its double-layered wings symbolise the twin stories of its creation – its five-year journey to completion, and the touching parallel story of its inspiration which, as Chao says, is an overarching theme of love. The collecting couple who own it are close friends of the artist, in a bond which has grown over twenty years, while Chao has witnessed the love and devotion two generations of the family have for each other and reflects this in elements of the piece.


The butterfly has been a work of devotion for Chao and her team of craftspeople. It has taken over 15,000 hours and includes experimental techniques, turning tough and hard, though very light, titanium into graceful, three-dimensional, intertwined wings with soft curves that are like two butterflies in one. Engineering the structure of the traditional wax mould had to be redone many times in the search for perfection, to show the wings airily outstretched. Creating the wing veins took a progressive immersion technique which, once gem-set, allows the viewer to see the sapphires underneath the rose-cut diamonds on the surface, amounting to a total of 3,000 gemstones.



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It took painstaking work to find the near-matching pair of hexagonal sugarloaf-cut Colombian emeralds on the wings, the translucent European ox horn that Chao used for the first time to create the insect’s body, set with a unique, 8.31-carat brown marquise diamond.


The Amour Butterfly is a worthy companion to previous Annual Butterflies, two of which are on permanent display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, while two have been auctioned for record prices. The Annual Butterflies are, says Chao, “the essence of my life” and are revered everywhere as the truest of her creations.


Previous Annual Butterflies

2008 Ruby Butterfly – a permanent collection of Musée des Arts Décoratifs

2009 Royal Butterfly – a permanent collection of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

2012 Transcendence Butterfly

2013/2014 Ballerina Butterfly - codesigned with Sarah Jessica Parker

2019 Aurora Butterfly

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