With the majestic backdrop of Snow Mountain, Taiwan's beautiful Fushan Botanical Garden is a virtual wonder of natural beauty. The picturesque grounds house more than 6, 000 plants and is known as the largest botanical garden in Asia. Taiwan is also home to featured jewelry designer Cindy Chao.
The creation process is an aspect of jewelry design and making that is as fascinating as a designer's creative process.
Personally, I see the two as separate, one involving the conceptual groundwork, and the other the actual construction.
For me, learning about techniques like filigree, wire wrapping, enameling, repoussé and chasing, and granulation re-emphasizes the technical skill and precision required to cultivate jewelry pieces of remarkable complexity and beauty.
Chao's stunning jewelry collections reflect intricate, detailed artisanship rendered through painstaking and time-consuming work.
The graduate of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), and certified gemologist, Chao creates magnificent pieces of staggering opulence that are reminiscent of Bao Bao Wan (China).
"There was a point in 2007 when I went through a rough patch in my jewelry-making career," she says. "Initially, my work was conservative, traditional pieces, but I knew I would not be able to thrive much longer in the market if I continued doing that type of jewelry."
Inspired by Asian art and architecture, Chao's bold yet elegant design contours are fashioned from 18-karat yellow, white and oxidized gold, golden, and white pearls, diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.
Her Mysteries of the East collection highlight beautiful, bold colored gemstones within streamlined proportions, while the Paradise collection features a stunning ring holding a spectacular blue stone in a talon-like setting that is offset by a twined shank of 18-karat white and yellow gold.
It is understandable that the exquisite items from her Four Seasons collection helped to solidify Chao's standing as a highly skilled jewelry artist, as the collection features masterfully detailed nature-inspired jewelry pieces.
As the name suggests, the Four Seasons collection is built around spring, summer, fall, and winter. In one instance, the arrangement of the diamonds in a ring representing winter is like a cascading droop of heavy icicles. In another item, the semblance of outreached branches is studded with an icy patch of diamonds.
The Majestic Beauty Fan, an exclusive design for DeBeers' Forevermark Precious Collection, is an incredible piece featuring a removable, 18-karat yellow, white, and rose gold butterfly brooch.
Creating the mold alone for this piece took a month while 2,339 diamonds were carefully placed in pavé settings throughout the piece's entwined branches.
It took Chao and her artisan team four months to complete the final piece. This magnificent item, along with the whole of Chao's collections, is a masterpiece of the utmost precision required in hand fabricated jewelry.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Yellow and White Gold Brooch with Jadelite and Ruby
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Majestic Beauty Fan with Diamonds and Removable Butterfly Brooch