The Metamorphosis of Cindy Chao
Tatler Hong Kong|November 2020
It took 15 years for Cindy Chao to gain global recognition in the rarefied world of high art jewellery. She now aims to turn her brand into one for the ages.
Imagine a butterfly in mid-flight, its iridescent wings spread open and dotted with tiny droplets of morning dew. Now imagine that same butterfly, in all its beauty and fragility, expressed as jewellery, a spectacular creation consisting of Burmese rubies, white and yellow diamonds, sapphires, and more rubies. It is delicate, intricate, bold and precious. It is, down to the yellow diamonds that delineate the wings, and the white diamonds of different sizes and cuts signifying water droplets, nature transformed into art through the medium of gemstones.

This stunning piece is the Aurora Butterfly Brooch, the 2019 Black Label Masterpiece from Cindy Chao The Art Jewel that was presented to an awestruck audience at last year’s Masterpiece London Art Fair.

Chao, the founder and creative director of Cindy Chao The Art Jewel, has seen her designs inducted into the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, for instance, has inducted in 2010 the 2009 Black Label Masterpiece I Royal Butterfly brooch. This year, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris added Chao’s 2008 Black Label Masterpiece I Ruby Butterfly brooch to its permanent collection.

As a student in New York, Chao recalls that she would pass Rockefeller Center every day and look into the windows of Christie’s, the celebrated auction house. She would tell herself, “It is the biggest dream of my life, if someday one of my pieces could be auctioned at Christie’s.” International recognition first came a mere three years after she opened her private showroom and design studio in Taipei in 2004.

In 2007, she headed back to New York with five pieces in her luggage, including the Winter choker and bangle from the Four Seasons collection, and made an appointment with Rahul Kadakia, now international head of jewellery at Christie’s, to present them. “At the time, I was unknown to anyone at Christie’s, and no one had ever seen my creations,” she says.

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