When I first started working at Geneva Seal, our exceptionally talented jeweler, Pashka, put a Post-It on my desk. He had written, "Wallace Chan" in all caps. After a quick Google search, I was taken to a brilliantly imaginative magical world full of color and sparkle. The exquisite craftsmanship touched my soul. It was then I realized a jeweler is first an artist.
Wallace Chan was only 13 when he left school to support his poor family and became a sculptor's apprentice. Now, he's a household name among jewelry connoisseurs and collectors.
Two years ago, Chan became the first Asian jewelry designer invited to the crème de la crème of international jewellery and art collectors, the Biennale des Antiquaires, in Paris. This week, he stunned the crowd again. Chinese collectors flew in by private jet to see Chan's 38 unique creations that bring together his love of nature and Buddhist philosophy.
Through mediation he imagines dragonflies, fish, insects and butterflies that form his ideas. “I have stories to tell,” he says. Chan had a favorite porcelain teapot which cracked, leaving only the lid. So he made the lid into a ring.
Chan will be remembered less for individual pieces than for the techniques he invented: the Wallace cut, his use of titanium, his diamond settings (using gems to hold each other in place, rather than metal) and his jade-cutting. To the Chinese his greatest appeal lies in the Buddhist symbolism that is part of his work. After a century of communist struggle, China’s eye for fine jewellery is returning.
The Mighty takes the shape of the humble ant using two unusually shaped Japanese pearls to form the head and abdomen, while the rest of the body is encrusted with rubellites, yellow and pink sapphires and diamonds. Demonstrating, in jeweled form of course, the ant’s natural incredible strength, Chan designed The Mighty hoisting a 21.41-carat rubellite with its raised front legs (jewelsdujour).
Chan spent 13 years developing the “Wallace Cut” – a way of carving human face into a stone. Five faces look out from this sparkling “Now and Always” pendant (below) symbolizing how change is eternal in our lives. The color symbolizes nature’s tranquility.
Chan used the world’s largest flawless purple sapphire weighing 164.39ct for his Gabriella Rose necklace (below) symbolizing femininity, harmony and tranquility.
His Entrancing Love brooch plays with scale: a large gem-set maple leaf with two miniature diamond horses, a mare and stallion, running free and swiftly towards a peridot, a stone that, according to legend, is both a symbol of happiness and a guardian of love.