Haute Jewellery Refined by a Zen Spirit
Taiwanese artist Aka Chen instills lost aesthetic traditions into his museum-collectable designs
Looking at Aka Chen’s designer jewellery is like standing in front of an ancient Chinese painting of flowers and birds. They both emanate a sense of tranquillity but also of vitality, allowing us to experience a few quiet moments of serene wonder.
“Jewellery is inseparable from nature. The so-called nature is not only the nature we see but also the naturalness and freedom in our hearts,” Chen says.
The Taiwanese jewellery designer and founder of AKACHEN Jewellery is renowned for his luxury creations that reach people’s hearts with their spiritual depth.
Having worked in the jewellery industry for more than 30 years, Chen now integrates his life-long love for calligraphy, painting, ikebana, and tea ceremony into his creations.
The resulting jewels capture not only the beauty of nature but also the rich traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, particularly their emphasis on the unity of heaven, earth, and humankind.
Integrating tradition with innovation
Having designed Western-style jewels in the early part of his career, Chen found that these creations were too dazzling for the more restrained tastes of his Asian customers. He felt these clients were connecting with the jewels neither on an aesthetic nor a spiritual level. Chen’s mission then became to craft jewels with distinctly Eastern aesthetics.
One day, ancient ink painting, an art form that Chen has always loved, gave him the spark of inspiration he was seeking. “The ink painting of ancient China has influenced the whole of Asia and represents the aesthetics of the East,” Chen says.
Looking at the designer’s latest jewellery creations, we can indeed observe the graceful charm of Song Dynasty bird and flower paintings and the minutiae and vitality of the Ming Dynasty literati and court paintings.
For his piece Magnolia, Chen used pure titanium to create branches with flowers and buds that can be removed to wear as brooches and earrings.
“Titanium is not only light in weight, but it also has very stable physical properties. It can be stored for a long time and has great processability. That’s why it can be used in jewellery,” Chen says.
In recent years, there have been a number of jewels on the market containing titanium alloys. To pursue the purity and longevity of the material, Chen chose to use 99.9% pure titanium. This, however, made the process more difficult.
“Pure titanium turns into powder when heated. It’s also non-conductive and can’t be welded, annealed, or reworked. Titanium is even harder than gold, and the cloth-like texture on our jewellery surfaces must be engraved under a microscope,” Chen says.