One of Taiwan's oldest Buddhist temples, the Lungshan or Dragon Mountain Temple, is world-renowned for its stunning architectural details designed to honor Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Taiwan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Anna Hu.
Presently based in New York, Hu's custom-made, luxury jewelry brings to mind the multifaceted, intricate work of fellow Taiwanese designer Cindy Chao.
Like Chao, Hu's pieces highlight elaborate and painstaking artistry with exquisite pavé stone settings of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. It is a stunning visual feast.
A young phenom, at age 14 Hu studied to become a solo cellist at Massachusetts' arts boarding school Walnut Hill. However, four years later, tendonitis in her shoulder would force her to relinquish her dream.
Though heartbroken, the jewelry artist recalled childhood memories of assisting her father, a diamond wholesaler, with his precious inventory. The recollection served as a strong incentive that moved Hu into a new career path.
"I opened the door to my father's workspace and lying there was a pile of raw, rock diamonds," says Hu. "I was eight years old and I fell in love with them the moment my father asked me to sort them according to size and shape. I will always remember that day."
Girding herself with two master degrees--one in Art History, and the second in Arts Administration--and a gemologist degree, Hu developed her craft while working at famed jewelry houses Van Cleef & Arpels, and the House of Harry Winston.
Employment with such large houses confined the greatest extent of Hu's creativity, and she chose to pave a road for herself with the help of mentor Maurice Galli.
Using Viennese paintings, and the lilting melodies of Tchaikovsky as inspiration, Hu creates ethereal items that are both lyrical and whimsical.
Her Butterfly Fairies Brooch is a delicate replication of the insects with beautiful detail. Their open wings laced with dollops of colored gemstones and white diamonds is like a flowing, gentle melody.
The Moonlight Bangle is a blend of pavé set white diamonds and a lovely cluster of muted moonstones that resemble floating bubbles. The Ruyi Cloud Bangle features a gorgeous mosaic pattern of gemstones while the Gershwin Jazz Bangle, with its gem encrusted musical staff and notes, is capricious yet stunning in its intricacy.
Even Hu's streamlined Joking Love Knot Series maintains a level of complexity in its curves and twists. "To me jewelry design is like composing music.
I listen to Rachmaninoff, and Bach when I design. I feel the technical challenge, and like, convert the complexities into the jewelry."
With such immense design detail, it came as no surprise to learn that Hu's custom-designed creations take up to one to two years to complete.
"Each project is very different. I create something organic that harmonizes with the client's personality and style.
I am obsessed with making jewelry. It's not even a passion anymore. I have so many ideas that I even dream about gemstones."
Hu's magnificent pieces are available at New York's Plaza Hotel, and the Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie boutique in Taiwan.
Photo 1 (top right): Leaping Koi Ring
Photo 2 (center): 18-Karat White Gold Knot Ring with Rubies
Photo 3 (bottom left): Moonstone and Pavé Diamond Moonlight Bangle