Art Collecting

Meet Anna Hu, China’s Jeweler To The Stars | Pro Club Bd

Jewelery designer Anna Hu is next added to the Jing Daily community of people shaping China’s booming luxury industry. These profiles highlight industry leaders who contribute to the national and global fashion communities, from creatives and influencers to executives and entrepreneurs.

Over the past 15 years, cello-playing prodigy-turned-jeweller Anna Hu has established herself as a leading figure in Haute Joaillerie design. The Taiwanese native, who now lives between New York, her headquarters, and Monaco, shows her designs at art fairs and auctions worldwide – in 2019 she broke the world record for a contemporary Chinese jewelry artist in Hong Kong by selling her Dunhuang Pipa necklace for 5.78 million dollars (47 million RMB).

Commissioned by Sotheby’s and designed by Anna Hu, the Dunhuang Pipa necklace sold for $5.78 million. Photo: Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie

Made in Paris ateliers, her pieces are worn by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Uma Thurman and entrepreneurs like Wendy Yu. One of these works, a yin-yang hand ornament designed in collaboration with American artist and photographer Cindy Sherman, was even acquired by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris for its permanent collection in June 2022.

The daughter of a second-generation diamond dealer, Hu first envisioned her life as a cellist and moved to the United States to study until a debilitating shoulder injury shattered her dreams. Her father suggested that she take a course in gemology at the Gemological Institute of America, which she accepted immediately – not because she wanted to be a gem dealer herself, but to channel her artistry as a designer. After working at Christie’s, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston, she debuted her own collection in 2007 as the founder and designer of her own luxury boutique. Still, she teases friends that she’s an artist trying to be a CEO.

In 2021, Hu began a creative partnership with Ms. Alisa Moussaieff in London, one of the world’s most respected gemstone dealers, whose family business dates back 800 years. Their close connection has led to spectacular high-end pieces being shown at art fairs in Europe for the first time this year. Hu’s collectors include Middle Eastern royalty, Hong Kong billionaires, Chinese entrepreneurs and even the Queen of Bhutan, for whom she created earrings and a brooch for her royal wedding in 2011.

At the forefront of her craft, Anna Hu is now expanding her reach in China. Here, Ying daily chats with the experienced designer.

They only create about 20-30 pieces a year. Can you tell us something about your creative process?

It’s spontaneous, inspired by music, art history and my Chinese heritage, giving me a unique design identity. I have an academic approach but bring a contemporary appeal to the work. I never draw, the pieces are too complicated. I compose the pieces with the gems like a painter, but I paint with real gems.

One of Hu’s iconic works is the Monet Water Lilies necklace, which took more than 10 years to create. Photo: Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie

They present collections at art fairs such as TEFAF and Masterpiece (with Mrs. Moussaieff) and during Paris Haute Couture week. Do you see a synergy between art collectors and people who collect your work? Is that the key to your marketing strategy?

My marketing strategy is very simple: I choose the organizations that I think understand and best present my work, not on a commercial level but on an artistic level. Tefaf (The European Fine Art Foundation in Maastricht) is the best and I will attend the New York Tefaf fair in the future. I have arranged with Ms Moussaieff to exhibit at Masterpiece in London and I am exhibiting at Tefaf as we have some pieces in our collaboration that we can share. I’m also showing during Haute Couture at the Ritz in Paris.

So there are three channels: first, the art fairs and museums, then, at the right time, the auctions. Last but not least my private channel through my own jewelry salons which are more commission oriented.

Inspired by 1920s French design, the Consuelo tiara necklace was launched at TEFAF Maastricht 2022. Photo: Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie

High jewelery is about building personal relationships with customers. Who are Anna Hu’s typical customers in Greater China and internationally?

They are confident, independent women who know what they want and are highly educated. There are many types of wealthy clients and I’m fortunate to have a choice in who I work with. The ones I click best with are highly intellectual and independent. A lot of jewelers make pieces of art not to be worn but to be displayed and for a male collector that makes sense, but I think a woman’s body is a beautiful canvas. So 99 percent of my pieces are made to fit a woman comfortably.

Finally, tell us about your retail plans in Greater China?

My first trip to China was 15 years ago when I started my brand. I opened a store in the Bund area in 2013, but temporarily moved it back to Taipei [Hu’s flagship is in Taipei’s Mandarin Oriental] due to a change in the operating strategy of the mall. I opened a boutique at the Ritz-Carlton in Beijing with a client and close friend.

However, I love Shanghai and going back is on my to-do list. We are open to opportunities, but not exclusively in the Bund area as it is more important that the location has the right chemistry with our brand and is convenient for customers. I also have a gallery next to MOMA in New York and plan to open a private showroom in Hong Kong by the end of the year. It’s all happening!

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