In his own words, Edmond Chin is jewellery-mad. The Singapore-born, Hong Kong-based designer’s obsession with jewels began when he was 14; he started collecting Straits Chinese jewellery using the money that he earned from cooking gourmet dinners for university friends. By the time Chin had graduated from Oxford University in 1988, he had amassed a collection large enough for a museum.
Three years later, he was invited to curate a Straits Chinese jewellery exhibition at the Singapore National Museum, marking the starting point of his career in gems. Chin was then invited to head up Christie’s jewellery and jadeite department in Asia. According to François Curiel, the international head of Christie’s jewellery department, Chin developed an ambitious and creative auction strategy during his tenure, growing the company’s sales to unprecedented levels.
In 2000, Chin launched his own jewellery brand, Etcetera. “After five years, I felt that I had made my point in auctions and thought it would be more interesting to do my own pieces,” he says. Chin began creating jewels that were distinct, timeless, and technologically sophisticated in their construction and stone-setting. “One of my great heroes is [Spanish architect] Santiago Calatrava,” he says. “He made a suspension bridge with only one pier. It’s so dramatic because the architecture is so advanced. So I always ask myself: how can I be like Calatrava, where I can make a jewellery piece better with less?”
Chin recently sold one such necklace at a Christie’s auction—18k white gold forms the articulated latticework of a necklace set with 48 pigeon-blood rubies (weighing 120 carats) and 13 pear-shaped diamonds. The necklace, estimated at HK$56–88 million, sold for HK$100 million.
STONE ARCHITECT It took Edmond Chin several years to collect the pigeonblood rubies for this unique latticework necklace