“Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore”– these lyrics by Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini, which translate to “I live for music, I live for love,” inspire jeweller Anna Hu. Here, Anna walks us through her journey as musician and gemologist, as she discovers melody in a jewel’s curve and harmony through a gemstone’s colour

Music is oxygen for my soul, and over the years, I have often relied upon it to extricate me from the burdens and worries in my life. In particular, classical melodies pacify my mind, so it is not surprising that my passion for music influences my work as a jewellery designer on numerous levels.

Just six years after launching Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie in 2007, I was informed by Christie’s— at the 2013 Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva—that I had achieved the world auction record for the highest price paid for a contemporary jewellery artist. I felt deeply honoured when in 2018, I became the first contemporary Asian jewellery artist to have a signature piece—the China Red Magpie Brooch—on permanent exhibition at The State Historical Museum of Russia.

I have since created a new magpie-themed piece: the second generation China Red Magpie Brooch, featuring 32.67 carats of pink and purple sapphires, diamonds, rubies, onyxes and a conch pearl. This brooch celebrates my Chinese heritage, derived from more than 5,000 years of glorious and inspiring Chinese history.

By combining history with state-of-the-art technology, I hope my jewellery connects the past with the present. Perhaps, the modern jewellery pieces I create today will become the classics of tomorrow. 

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I spent much of my childhood in both Tainan and New York. I can recall several afternoons happily spent by my father’s side, who worked as a gemologist. I would help him sort gemstones by their different shapes, colours, sizes and cuts, similar to any other child who would play with Lego. Despite being fascinated by my father’s work, my dream was to become a solo cellist, just like my idol Yo-Yo Ma.

When I was 13, I was selected by the Taiwanese government as a full-scholarship gifted and talented student to attend the prestigious Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. During this time, I also studied sculpture, ceramics, photography, musical composition and visual art.

At the age of 20, just before an international cello competition, I sustained a shoulder injury from over-practising, and the doctors told me I would never be able to play at the level needed to become a soloist. This shocked me and I was confused about what to do next.

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I hope my jewellery connects the past with the present. Perhaps, the modern jewellery pieces I create today will become the classics of tomorrow.

Music remains an essential part of my life, and it is crucial to my design process. I listen to classical music when conceptualising my pieces and often employ music theory when choosing gemstones. For example, I have been inspired by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 which includes a motif of four notes. Hence, to pay homage to it, I used four diamonds as a small creation representing the motif and scaled the design to the level of the symphony.

My work combines my interests as a gemologist and composer. The two aspects do not just coincide—they are fundamentally intertwined within me. By designing jewellery with the methodology I use as a composer, I am able to translate my emotional feelings and aesthetic perspectives into jewellery creation.

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To design exceptional jewellery, you must look beyond the obvious. Of course, sometimes I do choose stones for their exceptional colour and quality. As a trained cellist, I infuse the melodic flow of Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Schubert into my creations, and this leads to unique works of art. My jewellery creations are like music that can touch and move human souls.

There are plenty of designers in the world, but there is only one classical-musician-turned jewellery artist. I live for art and for love, and I intend to continue my journey and my mission of creating thoughtful, exquisite works of art and composing ten opuses of “Symphony of Jewels.”

Discover more at anna-hu.com

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