When Anna Hu was ten years old, she had a dream that a D flawless diamond was implanted in her heart. She vowed at that time to become a jewelry designer. She comes from a family of jewelers and was always captivated by gemstones. But her journey started on a different path. Hu trained as a classical cellist and graduated from the New England Conservancy of Music with a degree in Cello Performance. She went on to study gemology at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where she earned her Graduate Gemologist certificate. Hu then continued her studies in design at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and Parsons School of Design before earning a master’s degree in art administration from Columbia University. She worked for Christie’s, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston before founding her own brand, Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie. The brand has an East-meets-West aesthetic and specializes in one-of-a-kind pieces made by French ateliers using exceptional gemstones.
Hu’s work is heavily influenced by the classical music that she loves. While designing, Hu often listens to her favorite composer Beethoven as well as others. Like the complexity of the music that she favors, Hu creates jewelry that is energized by detail and has a sense of movement. To celebrate her one-of-a-kind designs from the past five years, Vendome Press has published Symphony of Jewels: Anna Hu: Opus 2, authored by Sarah Davis. It is the second book in a projected multivolume series on her work.
The 192-page book is divided into five chapters, each brimming with jewelry carefully curated by the designer. The first chapter, “Ballerina Fairies,” pays tribute to the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker.” The 11 ballerinas shown in the book are each wearing a jeweled floral-inspired tutu and seem to dance off the pages. Hu did extensive research to create ballerinas in poses that are authentic to ballet and each flower tutu is intricately detailed, adding dimensionality and motion to the pieces.
“Chinese Inspiration” is the title and theme of the second chapter, which takes Hu back to her roots. She was born in Tainan, Taiwan and lived there until she moved to the U.S. when she was 14 years old to study music. Lotus flowers and koi fish are part of the iconography Hu draws upon for these jewels that represent power and transformation and her own unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures. The third chapter, “Duet and Trio,” highlights two- and three-piece sets that showcase exceptional matching gems. For these creations, Hu took a cue from the court of the French Sun King Louis XIV and the sumptuous jewels of the royals.
“Contemporary Art” is the motif for the fourth chapter and for these jewels, Hu turned to the colorful sets and costumes of the Ballet Russes, as well as the strong colors and geometric shapes of the Art Deco movement. She was also influenced by films from directors such as Ang Lee and James Cameron. The ocean is another subject that Hu explores in the jewelry found in this chapter. Even though the pieces are highly structured in form, Hu’s innate sense of movement flows through these jewels, with flowers also playing a prominent role in the designs.
The final chapter of the book, “Butterflies,” is devoted to Hu’s interpretation of these winged beauties. The name Hu means butterflies in Chinese and so it is no surprise that Hu feels a special connection to these creatures. Each of the butterflies showcased in the book is inspired by a piece of classical music and a strong woman, often goddesses of Greek mythology.
Symphony of Jewels offers a behind-the-scenes view into Hu’s creative process, while showcasing her artistry as a jeweler. Brimming with photos combined with minimal copy, it looks fabulous sitting on a desk or coffee table and is truly a stunning book that will be a wonderful addition to any library.