For Bao Bao Wan, Jewelry Had Better Tell a Good StoryThe rest of China might be crazy for jewelry that’s the real thing, but Bao Bao Wan isn’t feeling it—even if she loves designing it. “I am not very emotional about it,” she says, laughing, over dinner at Capital M in Beijing Monday night, her conversation punctuated by the swishing start and stop of a pair of shoulder-sweeping sapphire fringe earrings. “I can say hello to jewelry...and I can say good-bye.” Wan has been creating her whimsical, narrative-driven, and predominantly gold and diamond pieces since 2006, after obtaining a gemology degree in Hong Kong that same year. She fell into the field after studying literature and photography in Paris, but that wasn’t a waste of time; both are featured in her designs.
Wan’s work isn’t focused on fetishizing stones; instead, she sees her use and placement of diamonds as being akin to composing a picture. And as for the literature, she likes them to tell a story or two. Her latest, Chine (above left) draws on Buddhist symbolism—that bottle pouring out teeny stones like drops of champagne is intended to represent an outpouring of charitable hopes and wishes, she says. As for those earrings that reflected and refracted the light over dinner, they came from childhood memories of growing up in the regimented enclave of Beijing’s presidential palace. “For jewelry to have soul, it has to have a story,” Wan says. “It brings jewelry to life.”
Check out her collection here