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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Brooch

2018
Artist/Maker

This magnificent ruby and diamond peony brooch, designed by Cindy Chao, won the accolade of Outstanding Exhibit at Masterpiece in London in 2018. Cindy Chao was commissioned to transform a ruby necklace and chose to create a peony, an imperial flower, which in Chinese tradition would bring good fortune. The gestation of the brooch took place over eleven years, a period in which Yu Hsiang, a leading business woman and philanthropist in Taiwan, who placed the commission, endured a life-threatening illness and Cindy Chao surmounted the challenges of making her name as a jeweller of international eminence.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Titanium cast by the lost wax process. Rubies set in titanium. Diamonds set in white gold.
Brief Description
Ruby and diamond peony brooch mounted in titanium and gold, Black Label Collection XVIII, 2018, Cindy Chao
Physical Description
Brooch in the form of a peony flower composed of seven petals arranged in two undulating layers. They are mounted with 105 oval, faceted rubies set in titanium surrounded by circular brilliant-cut rubies. On the back of the flower is a calyx of pavé-set graduated brilliant-cut diamonds in white gold. Three of the sepals extend to support the backs of the upper row of petals. The tip of one sepal emerges near the centre of the flower beside the lacquered stamens with their dark yellow anthers and light yellow filaments. The two-pronged brooch fitting follows the line of the back in a double curve. The pins are made of yellow gold mounted on a titanium base.



The central screw on the back of the Peony holds the petals together. Each petal was carved separately in wax by Cindy Chao before being cast in titanium. The last stage before assembly was the anodizing to create a purple colour.



The square black case bears the designer's name in white on the outside of the hinged lid. The case is lined in black suede and contains a black fabric cushion.



An outer protecting case made of thick black card is in two parts, a base and a lid. The front side of the base folds down to allow the inner case to be removed. The outside of the lid bears the designer's name in black.
Dimensions
  • Brooch height: 91mm
  • Brooch width: 91mm
  • Brooch depth: 46mm
  • Height: 150mm (Note: inner case)
  • Inner case width: 200mm
  • Inner case depth: 200mm
  • Outer case complete with lid on base height: 160mm
  • Outer case complete with lid on base width: 217mm
  • Outer case complete with lid on base depth: 217mm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'CINDY CHAO' (On one side of the titanium support for the hinged pins.)
  • 'Ti', 750, and 006 (On the side of the titanium support for the hinged pins.)
Gallery Label
Peony brooch Black Label Masterpiece XVIII, 2018 Opulence and delicacy are exquisitely matched in this virtuoso celebration of nature’s beauty. The undulating petals were first carved in wax, then cast in titanium to form a complex lattice of individual settings. The oval rubies came from a family necklace belonging to the brooch’s donor, Yu Hsiang, who asked for them to be reset in 2008. Cindy Chao transformed them into a peony – an imperial flower and a bringer of good fortune in Chinese tradition. It brought inspiration to Ms Yu following a life-threatening illness. Designed by Cindy Chao (born Taipei, 1974) Ruby, diamond, titanium, gold and lacquer Winner of the Outstanding Exhibit at Masterpiece, London, 2018 Museum no. M.8:1-2020 Given by Yu Hsiang (26/05/2021)
Credit line
Given by Yu Hsiang
Object history
Yu Hsiang, former president of the advertising firm United Communication Group, has described the gestation of this peony brooch which took place over eleven years, a period in which she endured and recovered from a life-threatening illness, and Cindy Chao surmounted the challenges of making her name as a designer. Ms Yu writes that ‘During the middle of the process I experienced a life and death experience and doubted my ability to survive. I never expected that Cindy, through her creativity, would transform my traditional family heirloom into a completely new splendid Peony full of life. Seeing this transformation brought me immense encouragement for my own personal healing process...I am honoured to let the world see her works; an Asian jewellery artist on the international stage’.

The commission was placed in 2008 when Ms Yu asked Cindy Chao to transform a family necklace with 105 rubies set as twenty-one small flowers, each centred by a diamond, into smaller jewels including a ring and earrings. The Peony was completed in 2018, a week before Masterpiece in 2018, in which it won the Outstanding Exhibit Award.

After Ms Yu's illness, Cindy Chao worked and re-worked her designs to create a jewel which she envisaged as a present from Ms Yu’s mother to her daughter. In Chinese tradition the peony is a bringer of good fortune as well as being an imperial flower.

Cindy Chao, born in Taipei in 1974, is the granddaughter of a Taiwanese architect who specialised in the design of Buddhist temples and the daughter of a sculptor of temple statues. She learnt to draw with her grandfather and was trained in sculpture by her father, in particular in the use of lost-wax casting, which is the foundation of her jewellery. She describes her grandfather as having taught her to think in three dimensions. She went to New York to study jewellery at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at the Gemologicial Institute of America. Cindy started her brand in 2004 and now has showrooms in Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Her work falls into two parts, the Black Label collection, which are one-off pieces, and the White Label collection.



Subject depicted
Summary
This magnificent ruby and diamond peony brooch, designed by Cindy Chao, won the accolade of Outstanding Exhibit at Masterpiece in London in 2018. Cindy Chao was commissioned to transform a ruby necklace and chose to create a peony, an imperial flower, which in Chinese tradition would bring good fortune. The gestation of the brooch took place over eleven years, a period in which Yu Hsiang, a leading business woman and philanthropist in Taiwan, who placed the commission, endured a life-threatening illness and Cindy Chao surmounted the challenges of making her name as a jeweller of international eminence.



Collection
Accession Number
M.8:1 to 4-2020

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record createdJanuary 6, 2020
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