Before a single stone was set in this necklace, Anna Hu poured “10 years of imagining” into its design. Inspired by Claude Monet’s Water Lilies paintings, Hu first began conceptualizing the piece when she spent the summer at Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France, as a 20-year-old budding artist. “The images of the pond, the water, and the interplay of light and shade there have been an integral part of my memory ever since,” she says. “I wanted to mimic the waves of the water and also create something very feminine and unique.” Hu listened to music by Impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy while designing. The Parisian arts movement “touched my heart,” she says. “It wasn’t science. Like composing, creating the piece just happened naturally.”
Deep pink sapphires portraying lilies are surrounded by a host of tsavorites, tourmalines, morganites, alexandrites, natural pastel-colored sapphires, white diamonds, pink diamonds, silver-gray diamonds, and a 45.22 ct. cabochon-cut tanzanite—1,600 stones (630 cts. t.w.) in all. “The stones are the paint I used to re-create Monet’s art in jewelry,” says Hu.
This piece wasn’t designed with commerce in mind—though it may one day be for sale. “It came from my heart and contains many spiritual and emotional feelings,” says Hu, who will showcase the one-of-a-kind necklace in her new flagship Shanghai boutique. “I don’t see it as a commercial piece, so I’m not sure I would sell it.” Ultimately, she created the curvaceous bib-style beauty, she says, “to be seen and touched.”
The artfully snaking necklace took two and a half years to create, says Hu, who relied on the skills of five “French-trained” craftspeople to bring her design to life. Each gem is held in place by a wafer-thin 18k white-gold frame, a style that lets light shine through the various stones. It also enables the piece to bend with the natural curves of the wearer’s clavicle—as though it were fabric. Says Hu: “We developed the technique, which is similar to enamel’s plique-à-jour technique, especially for this piece.”