If I had to choose one piece of jewelry to define the work of designer Anna Hu, it would be one of her newest pieces: “Metamorphosis”. This wide bracelet is a testament to her history, her inspirations, her aspirations and her ambitions.
By Sandrine Merle.
A veritable firework display of colored stones, “Metamorphosis” is a metaphor, that of a shimmering golden chrysalis transforming into a magnificent butterfly taking flight. “My name, Hu, means butterfly in Chinese,” explains the 40-year-old in a white lace dress. The bracelet also symbolizes renewal, the passage from darkness to light… Which is exactly what she has succeeded in doing with her brand – to mark its 15th anniversary, one of her jewels has just entered the collection at the Musée des Arts Déco and she has been invited to exhibit her pieces at TEFAF Maastricht. This butterfly, a landmark high jewelry creation, also testifies to her iron resolve to be among the greatest to excel in this field, such as René Lalique or Van Cleef & Arpels (where she worked for a time). But there’s little false modesty about Anna Hu: she’s quite sure that she is already one of them.
A world of stones
The “Metamorphosis” bracelet is a fine example of her very busy style, rich in sumptuous stones. Lovers of classic, graphic or all-gold jewelry, move on – this won’t be your thing. “Stones are part of my DNA, I spent hours observing them with my father, a trader. My mother was an expert in jade and pearls”. On “Metamorphosis”, the chromatic fireworks are composed of 1026 stones, sapphires, spinels, tourmalines, garnets, diamonds in infinite shades of red, green, blue lagoon, and yellow, juxtaposed and superimposed by highly skilled and exclusively French artisans. In the center, the spectacular 35.40-carat marquise-cut light brown diamond comes from the Moussaïeff brand, a leading specialist in colored diamonds. “I have developed a very close relationship with Madame Moussaïeff – she’s the only person I can call on weekends to talk about stones,” says Anna Hu.
Abundant allusions to European art
The name “Metamorphosis” in this case refers to the melody “Ah, vous dirai-je, maman” popularized by Mozart’s 12 piano variations. As a former top cellist, forced to stop her career at the age of 20 because of tendonitis, Anna Hu remains obsessed with music: in every stone, she sees a specific musical note. She’s also a great art lover, frequently alluding to painting, as demonstrated by the Monet necklace (her first piece as supple as a textile presented in 2017 at the Paris Biennale), the “Da Vinci” brooch, the “Kandinsky” set, and so on. Her “Enchanted Lilly” brooch was inspired by the “Auratum Lilies” of the painter George Walter Dawson, while her Lotus ring draws on the work of contemporary Chinese painter Zhang Daqian.
And a collector too…
Despite her assurance that “I have tastes well beyond my means,” Anna Hu’s collection boasts a Miro, two “little Picassos” and a Chagall! “Anyway,” she continues, “I can enjoy the most beautiful paintings in the world because I’m lucky enough to live right above the MOMA.” At TEFAF, she has just discovered Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the French painter famous for his watercolors of flowers, whose album she dreams of acquiring. “As I leafed through it, I spotted all my own inspirations, including the arums with their red and white petals. I was dumbstruck!”
Today, Anna Hu is without a doubt herself one of the greats… The Jewelry Gallery collection now features the “Yin Yang” bracelet. In 2013, her “Côte d’Azur” brooch sold for $4.57 million at Christie’s Geneva, breaking two world auction records: for a piece by a contemporary jewelry artist (held by JAR) and for the highest price per carat for a Burmese sapphire. For her jewelry presented at TEFAF, expect to pay 500,000 euros for a Lotus ring and at least a million for a necklace or bracelet.