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Natural Art

Epitomised in the Black Label Collection, Cindy Chao brings a new form of "Art Noveau" to the world of high jewellery with her unique organic, architectural and sculptural style

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As the granddaughter of an architect and the daughter of a sculptor, Cindy Chao – one of the world’s foremost artist jewellers – has structure and form in her blood. But not for her the rigid lines and sharp angles of modern architecture. She is equally inspired in her work by nature’s organic shapes and found her niche when she discovered a movement that linked the two – Art Nouveau.


This early 20-century style relied on the best artisan craft in architecture, interiors, illustration and jewellery, and provides a backdrop to Chao’s unique, handcrafted Black Label Masterpieces, each exhibiting a very modern, almost abstract, take on sinuous, natural shapes.

Nothing is art if it does not come from nature

Antoni Gaudí Spanish Architect

Chao acknowledges her debt to Antoni Gaudí’s architecture, saying that she follows his maxim “straight lines belong to men, curved lines belong to God and nature” in her works “to make them flow, swirl, cascade and curve”. Gaudí led the Catalan Modernism movement creating, mainly in Barcelona, exuberant buildings the influence of which is often palpable – the Casa Batlló’s curved balconies with large oval openings recall her large stones and slices, open-set into organic shapes.


Formalised yet nature-inspired Art Nouveau jewellery, often featuring cabochon stones, floral motifs and feathers, especially peacock, is another influence but the craft of Chao’s work with its myriad, meticulously chosen and placed pavé stones, is uniquely contemporary. The Black Label Masterpiece VIII Blue Dawn Feather Brooch glows with many-shaded Sri Lankan sapphires, colour-change alexandrites and green tsavorites, recalling those peacock shades though it is a signature Cindy Chao plume, with a specially cut, 20.49ct, shield-shaped diamond at its peak and a pear-shaped diamond at the base of the quill, cut to resemble the bulb of a tulip, another inspiration behind the piece’s shape. It is all set in titanium so fine that all you see are layers of sapphires.


More restrained yet its equal in craftwork is Black Label Masterpiece VII Star Sapphire Floral Brooch, an imaginary evocation in shape of the iris, another Art Nouveau motif. At its heart is a wondrous, 49.12ct Sri Lanka cabochon star sapphire, the twisting petals set with diamonds, the leaf with emeralds and tsavorites, the stem with yellow diamonds, all in titanium with delicate stamens in lacquered white gold. Its exquisite design and multiple crafts won an Outstanding Object award at London Masterpiece Online 2021, the latest but surely not the last accolade bestowed on Chao’s extraordinary talent.



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