That is, a note of high jewelry achievement. Earlier this month, the acclaimed Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan–based designer announced that she had been appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in France, a distinction she received from the hands of the French minister of culture, Roselyne Bachelot, herself.
The Ordre des Arts et Lettres distinction, conferred in the form of a medal, is intended to reward those who have distinguished themselves by their creations in the artistic or literary field or by the contribution they have made to the arts and letters in France and in the world.
Throughout her 15-year ascent to fame, Chao has forged close ties with France, where she now spends more and more of her time. She has chosen to establish the European headquarters of her brand in Paris, the city in which she typically presents her newest Black Label Masterpieces and White Label collections to major European, American, and Asian collectors.
At the ceremony, Bachelot said of Chao, “You keep pushing the limits of your art. At the crossroads between goldsmith[ing], sculpture, and architecture—for the exceptional quality of your works and for your contribution to the life and transmission of the jewelry savoir faire of our country—we make you a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Art et Lettres.”
“France is the origin of high jewelry, and it had a sense to see me before I knew myself,” Chao said at a celebration dinner following the ceremony. “The country gave me courage and determination when no one else gave it to me, and recognition along the journey. The distinction brought me an even bigger responsibility to be a bridge between East and West to facilitate a deeper cultural exchange between France and Asia.”
The perfect emblem of Chao’s connection to France resides the 2008 Black Label Masterpiece I Ruby Butterfly brooch (pictured at top), which entered the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2020.
As the first 21st-century piece from Asia to enter the museum’s Galerie des Bijoux contemporary section, it sits alongside the creations of France’s greatest names: René Lalique, François-Désiré Froment-Meurice, Vever, Suzanne Belperron, and Claude Lalanne.
As for what’s new and next, we asked for a preview of some the designer’s newest Black Label Masterpieces and showcase them here in all their scintillating glory below.
Top: 2008 Black Label Masterpiece ruby butterfly brooch in 18k gold with 12.89 cts. t.w. unheated Burmese rubies, 7.5 cts. t.w. unheated fancy colored diamonds, 6.36 cts. t.w. diamonds, and 1.9 cts. t.w. color-changing sapphires
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