Wallace Chan being interviewed by VOGUE TV.


PARIS - At the Paris Biennale, where an estimated $50 billion worth of fine art, antiques and jewellery went on display at the Grand Palais, Wallace Chan was the only Asian jeweller exhibiting.

It’s the first time an Asian jeweller has shown at this influential bi-annual event. Evidently, Chan treasured every second. “Paris provides artists with nutrient-rich soil to grow and blossom. I am overwhelmed by the passion and praises from the people here,” said the sculptor turned jeweller whose work has sold at Sotheby’s. Chan spent the week welcoming visitors including Nicolas Sarkozy, Salma Hayek, designer Hubert de Givenchy and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld to his booth.

Glorious and The Grandeur by Wallace Chan.

While many of the Western world’s biggest luxury houses are looking to the East for profit like never before, a small number of home-grown Asian luxury brands are now emerging on the international scene. Hong Kong’s Wallace Chan is clearly one of them.

Chan began his career aged thirteen as a sculptor’s apprentice. Themes of Chinese culture taking in Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, run through his work. One necklace, The Great Wall, transforms a Chinese architectural icon into a dazzling necklace with an imperial jadeite pendant – yours for a cool 56 million euros.

Inheritance by Wallace Chan.

In 2009, Chan opened counters at New York department stores Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 2010, he became the first jeweller invited to hold a solo exhibition at Beijing’s Capital Museum.

With his trailing black beard peppered with dramatic streaks of white, Chan looks like he might be some kind of spiritual master. On a quest for perfection, Chan routinely destroys pieces if they’re not completely perfect.

“I don’t just want to create appealing jewellery with lots of expensive stones. I want dramatic pieces, jewellery that never ceases to amaze,” he says.


Claire Adler writes on jewellery and watches for the Financial Times and Sotheby's. She consults as a writer and speaker for De Beers, Boodles and the World Gold Council.