Please rotate your device
Welcome to Centurion Magazine
  • Exclusive access for Centurion® Members

    Discover a world of features especially crafted for you

  • My BlackBook

    Customised content that reflects your interests

  • Magazine Archive

    A downloadable repository of issues past

  • Limited Editions

    Products exclusively assembled for you

  • Editors' Desk

    Your direct line to the magazine team


In Full Bloom

A spectacular award-winning brooch by high jewellery artist Cindy Chao has found a forever home in one of the world’s most hallowed museums

Sponsored by

To receive one of the great accolades of your industry is a supreme honour. For Asian high jewellery artist Cindy Chao, this has happened not once, but three times. The induction of Cindy Chao’s 2018 Black Label Masterpiece XVIII Peony Brooch into the permanent jewellery collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum brings new recognition of the Asian high jeweller to Britain. This extraordinary piece joins her butterfly brooches at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.


A true art creation should not be bounded by time"

Cindy Chao

The Peony Brooch sits in the V&A’s William and Judith Bollinger Gallery alongside acclaimed contemporary jewellery and great historic pieces owned by the likes of Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great and Queen Victoria. Even among these, the brooch is spectacular – it received the Outstanding Object award when first presented at the seminal Masterpiece London fair in 2018.


The delicate creation also reflects a touching personal story. Chao had been asked by a good friend to make a piece reusing a marvellous set of heirloom rubies. She planned a pair of earrings, but then the client fell dangerously ill, and during her slow recovery, Cindy decided a more memorable and symbolic piece was called for – the peony, which symbolises prosperity, love and friendship.


One of her most complex pieces, it took a decade and twenty different designs to complete the brooch’s sculpted petals structure. For lightness, Chao used titanium, which is much harder – and triple the time to work with – than 18K gold. Her craftsmen created a honeycomb of individual settings for over three thousand rubies and diamonds, and anodised the titanium until it took on purple hues that make the rubies look almost velvety. The stamens, delicately sculpted in gold and finished in French lacquer with a powdery sensation, add to an impression of natural realism.

Still, Chao would not hesitate from taking so long to create a piece again because “a true art creation should not be bound by time”. She says the brooch strengthened her friendship with the client, who gifted the piece to the museum. Anyone astonished by its beauty will be grateful to both of them.


Share This