By Katie Wong •
12 February 2020
Jadeite has always been highly acclaimed in Asia for its mesmerising translucency and colour. But with such a long history, it may sometimes be viewed as conservative. Two award-winning Asian jewellery designers meld innovation and originality to infuse novelty to jadeite pieces while maintaining their timeless beauty.
‘Mystery World’ brooch by Annie Chen
‘Lotus in the Moonlight’ blue chalcedony pendant with diamonds and pink sapphires by Annie Chen
‘The Universe’ ring by Joline Li
‘The Universe’ ring by Joline Li
‘Perfect Kiss’ jadeite intaglio carving by Joline Li. A famous jewellery brand bought the piece at a Hong Kong show last year.
Taiwanese jewellery designer Annie Chen seeks to celebrate the mysteries of nature in her designs, which show impressive attention to detail.
A jewellery design lecturer and founder of G&D Jewelry Design, Chen has won numerous awards from international jewellery design competitions, including the Shanghai Jewelry Design Competition Craft Award in 2014 for a nature-inspired brooch, which she named Mystery World. “The piece takes the shape of a leaf while the design depicts the enigmatic world of a microhabitat on the leaf,” she noted.
The designer further revealed that she added a sense of depth to the dainty design. “It is simply a leaf when viewed from afar but when you take a closer look, you will be drawn to the enthralling world of tiny, delicate creatures such as butterflies and other insects, as well as other peculiar plants. It is pleasing to the eyes and the mind,” commented Chen.
The brooch in 18-karat white gold features jadeite, tsavorites and diamonds. The largest butterfly in the middle is detachable and can be worn as a pendant.
While her bespoke jewellery pieces enjoy popularity in Taiwan, the designer wants to reach more foreign buyers by participating in international trade exhibitions.
Innovation and tradition
Hong Kong designer Joline Li has taken a more unconventional way to show her originality through her design concepts and craftsmanship.
Growing up with jadeite collectors in her family, Li is highly familiar with the gem. She founded Dream Mix Jewelry to offer consumers with fresh designs “to show that jadeite can also be fun and young,” she remarked.
She claims to have been the first to experiment with intaglio carving – an engraving technique that cuts into the flat background of the stone – using jadeite. The carvings are then coloured using a special method so it would not fade. Intaglio carving is done more commonly with other gems, added Li. “It's more challenging to do with jadeite, which has a higher degree of hardness. The transparency is also more difficult to control,” she continued.
One of her creations, “The Universe” ring, features an ancient Chinese dragon totem engraved on the back of a jadeite using intaglio carving. “The ring depicts a book of the universe, which encapsulates the sky and the earth as a traditional representation of the world. The book cover is the jadeite with the Chinese dragon totem,” she revealed. “Opening the book, you will find a sea turtle carved in an imperial jade alongside blue, white and yellow diamonds that denote a fascinating underwater world.” The flying dragon symbolises the sky while the sea represents the earth.
Thanks to her enduring creativity, Li has received national recognitions from award-giving bodies in China including the Tiangong Award and Shengong Awards, which recognise excellent jade engravings and sculptures.