A Doyenne’s Pre­quel

Firmly backed by one of the big­gest names in jew­ellery ap­praisal, Diana Zhang is mak­ing his­tory at the 2014 Bi­en­nale des An­ti­quaires

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus Diana Zhang -

Diana Zhang is an in­die fairy­tale in the world of haute joail­lerie; in the ul­tra- pres­ti­gious art and an­tique fair’s 52- year his­tory. Fleet­ing whis­pers of the first fe­male Asian jew­eller and mad­den­ing ob­scu­rity have only served to heighten the an­tic­i­pa­tion, charg­ing the run- up to an event typ­i­cally head­lined by the big names with an un­der­ground cur­rent that’s rarely found in high jew­ellery. Diana isn’t in­ten­tion­ally try­ing to be sub­ver­sive, and with a lit­tle dig­ging it’s re­vealed that she will be pre­sent­ing at the Martin Du Daffoy booth, in­vited at the be­hest of owner and CEO Cyrille de Fou­caud.

“Be­fore I came I had been told that few jew­ellery events could ever match the splen­dour of the Bi­en­nale,” says Zhang. “Now that I am here, in­vited by Martin du Daffoy, I am so in­cred­i­bly hon­ored to be able to par­tic­i­pate along with leg­endary names of the in­dus­try.”

The two met at Baselworld last year, and after a tour of Diana’s Hong Kong work­shop re­vealed the ex­tent of the de­signer’s in­ge­nu­ity, the ex­pert French con­nois­seur was ea­ger to share his dis­cov­ery with the world.

A look at the pieces in ques­tion proves that Diana’s work is in­deed highly col­lectable. Chi­nese in­flu­ences are pre­dictably strong, and the work­man­ship is as­tound­ing.

Fran­cois Curiel, chair­man of Christie’s Asia Pa­cific, says: “I’m very im­pressed. Diana’s col­lec­tion is dif­fer­ent from any­thing else in the mar­ket. It’s con­tem­po­rary, clas­si­cal, not too ag­gres­sive.”

En­ti­tled One Year in China, the col­lec­tion uses clas­sic Chi­nese flora to rep­re­sent

the sea­sons: Orchid Queen for spring; Lo­tus After The Rain for sum­mer; Danc­ing Red Leaves for au­tumn; Plum Blos­som for win­ter; King of the Win­ter and Year- Royal Bam­boo. The Win­ter- Plum Blos­som manchette is a par­tic­u­lar favourite. It is set in gold and ti­ta­nium with 10 un­heated pi­geon’s blood Burmese ru­bies and 7,726 di­a­monds, and is ex­cep­tion­ally ver­sa­tile — its pieces can be de­tached to form a ban­gle, brooch and a ring that can be worn on one or two fin­gers.

“After I cre­ated it, I dis­cov­ered that fa­mous jew­ellery de­signer Ge­orges Fou­quet and artist Alphonse Mucha col­lab­o­rated on a very spe­cial manchette for French stage legend Sarah Bernhardt, so I am a lit­tle proud to have come up with a sim­i­lar idea.”

An artist at heart, Diana’s ap­proach de­mands that craft yields to art, an ethos that’s ob­vi­ous in the tech­ni­cal feats her jew­els demon­strate to ac­com­mo­date the some­times un­ortho­dox parts of the de­sign. A self- taught de­signer who grew up in Guangzhou dur­ing China’s open- door pe­riod, her pas­sion for beauty tran­scends bound­aries and some­times, com­mer­cial sense. She once re­fused to sell a piece be­cause she couldn’t bear to part with it. Each stone is ju­di­ciously se­lected by her and com­pleted pieces can take any­where from 10 months to two years to pro­duce.

“I pour my heart and soul into ev­ery piece. I hand­pick ev­ery gem, and will work and re­work a piece un­til I see per­fec­tion. For me, jew­els are like works of art, and sym­bols of love to be passed from one gen­er­a­tion to another. Long after I am gone, my jew­els will still speak for me.”

Win­ter-plum Blos­som, King of The Win­ter

Clock­wise from left: Olivia Zhen, Diana Zhang, Montser­rat Perodom, Pa­tri­cia Cheong; Diana Zhang with Cyrille Mar­ion du Daffoy and Nora Sabrier; Sum­mer– Lo­tus After The Rain ring; Layla Khos­rovani wear­ing the Win­terPlum Blos­som, King of The Win­ter manchette

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