The muses of nature and modern elegance inspire a great jewellery artist to create the jewels that Lynn Hsieh calls her own.
Hsieh, the businesswoman and socialite who serves as a Hong Kong member of the honorary committee for the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires, couldn’t have been more proud of her dear friend Wallace Chan’s feted reception as the first Asian jewellery designer to be invited to take part in the event in 2014. “Wallace is unique,” says Hsieh. “And each of the pieces by him is a special story and a work that can never be replicated.”
Hsieh only collects jewellery because they can be worn. Her interest encompasses sharing her enthusiasm with others, continued study on the subject and going to exhibitions. Prior to her collection of Chan’s pieces, she sought out 18th-century micro-mosaic earrings, and 18th- and 19th-century cameo brooches, as well as small natural pearls.
“Jewellery makes women look brighter and more beautiful, and it’s a good investment,” she says. “But when I was younger, it was the ownership of jewellery that was attractive. I was more practical and focused more on the worth of the stones and less on the setting. Since meeting Wallace, I have learnt to appreciate jewellery as art. Each piece expresses Wallace’s soul; he puts his ideas into his living pieces of art.”
Taiwan-born Hsieh shares her love of jewellery with her seven sisters, especially when they visit their mother who lives in the centre of Taipei, surrounded by many jewellery shops: “We can spend the whole day in the shops. We’re not possessive; we don’t mind if we have the same pieces because we live in different cities.”
Hsieh gives Chan much freedom whenever they work on a new creation. “I always respect Wallace’s decisions. I don’t come to see him with any idea but I might bring him a gemstone. He knows what suits me.”
When she saw her first piece by him, the ring changed the way she viewed jewellery irrevocably. The imaginative setting of the 48-ct sapphire that was evocative of water rising to the surface, startled her: “It was like a 3D movie; I’ve never seen that before in jewellery, which I used to think of as flat.”
Hsieh is fastidious when cataloguing her collection, with a book and computer records detailing her latest sparkling entries. Chan’s thoughtfully prepared dossiers on every piece he creates are kept alongside other items’ certificates and notes, covering their materials (such as diamonds, jade and demantoid), where she bought them and pricing. “I like having my own jewellery library at my fingertips. I feel very happy at home at night when I can check information or look for something,” she says.
Chan’s creations are often conceived to be transformative, with many different ways to wear them, but Hsieh mostly uses hers in the evening, selecting quieter designs for the day, such as a pair of discreet pink diamond earrings. Hsieh doesn’t feel dressed without earrings and likes to match them with a ring.
If Chan were not so busy, she would like all her jewellery to be produced by him. He is working on a new set for Hsieh but she knows better than to broach the completion date. “You cannot ask Wallace that. It can sometimes take a few years. I am a fast-moving person but with Wallace, I am full of patience,” she says with a smile. “The longest project is still to be finished! I am already in a bit of a privileged position as his friend; someone else might have to wait much longer!
Read more from this series of jewellery collectors: