Artist jeweller Wallace Chan to visit 2015 Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair
Artist jeweller Wallace Chan, who creates remarkable sculptural pieces much sought after by wealthy collectors and is one of the great names in contemporary jewellery design, plans to visit the invitation-only Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF), which will take place from February 1-3, 2015.
“If you know how to appreciate it, there is beauty in every gemstone,” Chan told Jewellery Outlook in a recent interview.
“When I carve, when I work on a gemstone, I am very tender,” he said.
“When I see a gem, if I feel for it, I try to communicate it through light and colours.”
Wallace Chan is one of a very few contemporary designers who have had the privilege of having their own stand at the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires, which showcases some of the world’s greatest jewellery designs.
Chinese collectors have paid huge sums for his intricately crafted insect, flower and fish sculptures, using carved coloured titanium, jadeite and natural colour gemstones, including diamonds.
Chan is celebrated for his innovations in jewellery making techniques, such as the “Wallace Cut”, which he has used to carve a human face in a precious stone.
He is also a perfectionist, and said he can be working on 50-60 pieces at the same time, periodically going back to a piece to refresh it.
“I have this dream: that whenever people see a piece of my jewellery, they see it as a work of art,” he said.
The Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (ADTF) is a popular destination for jewellery designers seeking exquisite diamonds for their latest pieces and collections.
Alexander Davis, who has a fast-growing reputation as one of Britain’s most cutting-edge jewellery designers, bought a gorgeous peachy-pink diamond at ADTF in 2014 which he later set into a pendant.
Davis, who won the 2010 New Designer of the Year at the UK Jewellery Awards, is one of the hardest working jewellers in the business: he both runs his own boutique on Duke Street in London’s Mayfair, and designs and makes his own collections, and bespoke pieces, often diamond engagement rings.
Dark Romance Sapphire Trillion Ring by Alexander Davis
He is constantly in search of diamonds for his extensive Alexander Davis bridal collection, for which he has his own exclusive in-store app-style application which allows customers to configure a diamond ring in perfect tune with their tastes.
At ADTF in January 2014, Davis purchased a peachy-pink 1.03-carat VVS diamond which he later surrounded with cognac diamonds also acquired at the fair, creating a pendant in rose gold featuring a Paraiba tourmaline that is currently available at his 1A Duke Street boutique, near Selfridges.
Davis enjoys experimenting with colour combinations to test design ideas, and mixes natural high-end colour gemstones with diamonds.
“I like buying random stones and slinging them together,” he said.
At ADTF in 2014, he also bought grey, ice white and old rose cut diamonds for use in his latest creations.
The young designer, often inspired by science and architecture, is constantly looking for something new, and has started using unusual materials such as titanium in combination with precious materials.
The stone is always the crucial heart of his imaginings.
“I work from a concept in my mind, and I find the stone that goes with the concept,” Davis said.
“Otherwise I find a stone and design around it.”
He loves the work of the great contemporary jewellery designers, such as Wallace Chan and JAR, and hopes one day to carve out his own special place among the world’s elite designers.
“I try to innovate with gem settings and use new materials,” he said.
BIG STONES AT ADTF
Davis said that for him, ADTF’s great strength would be for sourcing large diamonds.
“If you are in the market for a big stone, you are better off going to ADTF,” he said.
“It is about making the contacts who could supply you with something special.
“It would be hard work going round Hatton Garden, but you can more easily find something big and special in a visit to the Antwerp diamond fair.
“And ADTF supplies stones that are harder to find in the UK, such as ice whites and greys.”
Award-winning Chinese-British jewellery designer Fei Liu visited ADTF in 2014 to seek diamonds for his latest ranges.
Fei Liu has showcased his flowing, feminine diamond jewellery, in collaboration with retailer Chow Tai Fook, Platinum Guild International (PGI), and miner Rio Tinto.
His most recent project was “The Fountain of True Beauty”, a design inspired by flowing water and flowers, made from platinum and elegantly set with diamonds and pearls.
It is a truly showstopping piece, made in collaboration with PGI, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Chinese retailer Chow Tai Fook.
As the water cascades around the wearer’s neck, it gives life to more than a dozen blossoming flowers, Calla Lillies: a universal symbol of purity and beauty.
Each flower showcases a woman’s blossoming personality and confidence.
“I love floating lines. Movement is very important in my pieces,” Fei Liu said.
Fei Liu’s other recent project was an extraordinary collection in 18ct gold with white diamonds, in collaboration with the world’s third biggest mining group, Rio Tinto.
The collection features tiny, diamond-set fuchsia flowers draped across delicate frames of 18ct white gold.
They are set with smaller-sized, brilliant diamonds from the Argyle mine in Australia, more typically associated with rare pink diamonds.
The emphasis of the collection is on the designer aspect of fine jewellery.
Fei Liu works closely with diamonds, from stones of up to 10 carats in his bespoke commissions, to bridal collections and pave diamond fashion jewellery.
He bought some 50 carats of pear-shape and marquise diamonds at ADTF in 2014, for use in his diamond jewellery ranges, and was impressed by the extraordinary quality and variety of diamond cuts available at the fair.
Now he wishes to experiment with use of natural coloured diamonds in his pieces, acknowledging a growing consumer appetite for colour in stones.
Fei Liu, who won Bridal Collection of the Year at the 2014 UK Watch and Jewellery Awards (UKWJA), has won plaudits across the jewellery trade for feminine designs in platinum, gold and diamonds that have sold well in the Chinese and UK bespoke and retail markets.
Retailers are made very welcome at ADTF, which they visit to source stones for their latest collections.
Jody Wainwright, Director at luxury jeweller Boodles, is a regular visitor to ADTF, where he buys diamonds for the magnificent one-off jewels sold by the retailer at several prime locations.
Jody, who has travelled all over the world to find the best gemstones, is typically looking for D-G VS+ clarity stones or fancy colours. He believes only the best diamonds will do.
Boodles has nine shops in premier locations in the UK and Ireland, including Bond Street, Sloane Street and Harrods in London.
“Personally, I always find the Antwerp fair is a great opportunity to nurture existing relationships,” Jody said.
“However, of course, I am always keeping an eye out for new and interesting suppliers.”Jody said the variety of stones was impressive at ADTF.
“Fancy shapes are more and more hard to find – however, being under the one roof was helpful as it meant that we could acquire stones we needed,” he said.
Jody said an advantage of sourcing diamonds from ADTF was that the event was located near the UK.
“Hong Kong and Vegas are a long way away whereas Antwerp is a lot closer to home — therefore very handy,” he said.
Asked what Boodles is looking for in the diamonds it acquires for its jewellery pieces, Jody said: “Top quality and exciting cuts.”
At William&Son in London, Head of Jewellery Clemence Merat, who visited ADTF in January 2014 for the first time, is constantly on the lookout for exquisite diamonds to meet the exacting standards of the luxury goods store’s affluent clients.
William&Son’s “London Collection”, introduced in December 2013, just before her visit to ADTF, is distinctive for its interchangeable pieces and its tassels in black spinels or white rock crystal quartz.
William&Son has also recently developed its diamond engagement collection, by adding new and classic styles to its line.
Clemence came away from ADTF in 2014 with a number of Antwerp supplier contacts with whom she has since been in touch, particularly in regard to bespoke diamond jewellery commissions.
“William&Son have a policy to keep their diamond quality above ‘G’ colour and ‘VS’ clarity, which we think is the lowest we can go if we want to sell high end diamond jewellery,” Clemence said.
“But as we also create bespoke pieces, we are sometimes looking for completely different things, for example one of our recent enquiries was for a 3.00ct Round Brilliant Diamond, D colour, SI1 clarity.
“I have found a lot of new dealers in Antwerp who have been helpful with this enquiry.”
Clemence said the Antwerp diamond community was an excellent destination to source stones because of their strict compliance with Kimberley Process certification for conflict-free diamonds.
“Antwerp has a reputation in the industry for its strict adherence to the Kimberley Process, and this is very important for William&Son,” she said.
At ADTF, Clemence was looking for new suppliers of bigger diamonds, particularly Rose Cuts, and fancy coloured stones.
“I met new companies that can provide me with the diamonds I am more regularly looking for, but also got to meet companies that have bigger stones, different cuts (such as Rose Cut diamonds), and also fancy coloured diamonds.
“We are regularly looking for a variety of cuts, around 1.00ct, G colour and VS clarity.”
Clemence said she appreciated the opportunity at ADTF to network with other buyers and discuss the long-term market outlook for high end diamond jewellery sales.
”A really interesting aspect of the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair for me, was to be able to meet other people on my side of the industry, i.e. the other buyers.
“I wanted to hear more about what the other buyers have to say about the market, and what they think the prospects are for high end jewellery retail.”