Wallace Chan: Exclusive interview with the world-famous jewellery designer
Updated: Aug 11
Born in Fuzhou, China in 1956, Chan at the age of 5 has moved to Hong Kong. He was 13 when he left school to support his family. He became an apprentice sculptor at the age of 16 and set up his own sculpting workshop. In 1973 Chan began as a gemstone carver and then became a painter, sculptor, monk, jewellery creator, and innovator. Wallace Chan jewellery is the realisation of his dream, not just adornment. Chan's gemstones are his language, through them, he tells his stories, translates the messages of our universe, it is a carrier of his heritage and reflection of times. Light is of the utmost importance when it comes to gemstones. He follows the light, uses carving and the gemstone setting to enough light in a dialogue to reveal details, secrets and possibilities for his colourful, sensual jewels. His creation of one-of-a-kind pieces define today’s spirit and transcend the boundaries of contemporary jewellery.
Curiosity and thirst for knowledge has led Chan to create numerous innovations, like The Wallace Cut (an illusionary three-dimensional carving technique invented in 1987), the mastery of titanium in jewellery making, a patented jadeite luminosity-enhancing technology, the invention of elaborate gemstone settings without metal claws, and most recently, The Wallace Chan
Porcelain, a material five times stronger than steel. He says innovation is often a long process. It took him eight years to master the use of titanium and seven years to develop The Wallace Chan Porcelain. The biggest reward, however, he says, is seeing the creations come alive. What's next for Wallace Chan in creation?!
Find out our exclusive interview with Wallace Chan below :-)
Portrait of Wallace Chan
Jewellery Pursuer: You have gained worldwide recognition by becoming the first Chinese-born jeweller to exhibit your works at prestigious art fairs like The European Fine Art Fair, the Biennale des Antiquaires, Tefaf Maastricht, and many more. What's next for Wallace Chan? I look forward to TEFAF Maastricht next year. At the same time, I am preparing for an exhibition in Europe. An official announcement will be made as the date gets closer. I also feel that it may be time for me to publish another monograph, one perhaps that is more biographical, but at present, this is a plan, a dream, that is still growing in my mind. Creations and innovations never stop in my life. I look forward to sharing more with you, but I am only good at sharing plans that I have already brought to life.
Jewellery Pursuer: You have created numerous innovations combining art, science and alchemy, including The Wallace Cut, an illusionary three-dimensional carving technique that you invented in 1987, the mastery of using titanium in jewellery making, and a patented jadeite luminosity-enhancing technology. Your most recent work is The Wallace Chan Porcelain, a material five times stronger than steel. What's your next innovation on the horizon?
I am always working on material innovation because I believe having more materials available results in more artistic freedom. Titanium, The Wallace Chan Porcelain, and different kinds of gemstones have given me a bigger canvas to visualise and realise my ideas. My laboratory in Hong Kong has been busy decoding the mystery of another ancient material, but let’s keep it a secret for now.
The Wallace Cut by Wallace Chan
Jewellery Pursuer: Can you give us an insight into your innovative technique to fortify materials with titanium or porcelain? What can you tell us about the challenges and rewards of these technical innovations? The biggest challenge, apart from all the technical problems, is time. I have always been impatient. When I have a dream, an image or an idea, I can’t wait to give it life. But innovation is often a long process. It took me eight years to master the use of titanium and seven years to develop The Wallace Chan Porcelain. The biggest reward, however, is seeing the creations come alive.
Paraiba Tourmaline 1 pc 5.98 ct Diamond, Tsavorite Garnet, Titanium, The Wallace Chan Porcelain
Jewellery Pursuer: How do you consider your practice to have evolved over the past 45 years? Self-improvement is vital in both my practice and my life. Every day, I look for ways to become a better person and a better medium between the universe, gemstones and humans. In this respect, I am constantly evolving. I began in 1973 as a gemstone carver and then became a painter, sculptor, monk, jewellery creator, and innovator, some may say. I have always been a bit of everything. I continue to enjoy the freedom of being out of the box. I love change. My practices are motivated by the elements of change.
Jewellery Pursuer: What are some of the most beautiful creations in nature for you? Beauty can be found everywhere in nature. We celebrate life, but is death not also beautiful? Reincarnation is everywhere – from the fallen petals of a tulip you can see the future blossom of new life. I listen and observe, and I am enchanted by it all.
Cat's Eye 2 pcs 2.23 tcw, Blue Topaz 1 pc 139.90 ct Opal, Crystal, Aquamarine, Pearl Tsavorite Garnet, Sapphire, Diamond, Titanium, The Wallace Chan Porcelain
Jewellery Pursuer: Light seems to fascinate you. How does it influence the way you sculpt your pieces? Light is of the utmost importance when it comes to gemstones. I follow the light. I use carving and the gemstone setting to enough light in a dialogue. The light reveals details, secrets and possibilities. But we must not forget about the shadow, because it is just as important as light. Shadow provides contrast and drama.
Jewellery Pursuer: What are you currently working on? Among the many, many projects in my head, there are butterflies, a myriad of butterflies!
Butterflies by Wallace Chan