Women in Jewelry: Cindy Chao


This March we’ve celebrated women from around the globe by honoring and commemorating women in jewelry. We’ve highlighted some of the world’s most inspiring jewelry designers, namely Lorraine Schwartz, Sheryl Jones, Neha Dani, and now, Cindy Chao. We are going to end off our four-part sequel with world-renowned Taiwanese jewelry designer, Cindy Chao.



Cindy Chao
Portrait of Cindy Chao.


Cindy Chao was born in the 1970s in Taiwan. Her mother is a businesswoman and her father is a sculptor. Cindy Chao learned various sculpting techniques and skills from her father, which inspired her own design style. Hsieh Tzu-Nan, her grandfather, was an architect who designed temples all over Taiwan. Her grandfather, according to Cindy Chao, sparked her interest in architecture.


Cindy Chao was the first Taiwanese jewelry designer with a piece of jewelry inducted at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The Art Jewel, her company, was established in 2004 and opened its first showroom in Taipei. Cindy Chao was the first Taiwanese jeweler to participate in a Christie’s New York fine jewelry auction in 2007. Her Annual Butterfly and Black Label Masterpiece Collections are well-known.



Annual Butterflies

Each year, Cindy Chao makes a butterfly sculpture. The first butterfly was created in 2008, and the name “Annual Butterflies” has stuck since then. Gemstones and thousands of pavé-set diamonds are set on and around delicately molded wings, taking more than 18 months to complete.


Ruby Butterfly Brooch


Ruby Butterfly Brooch.
BLACK LABEL MASTERPIECE I, 2008 Non-heated Burmese rubies 12.89 cts, fancy colored diamonds 7.50 cts, diamonds 6.36 cts, color-changing sapphires 1.90 cts. 5.1 x 4.3 cm. (Image Source: Cindy Chao).


The Royal Butterfly Brooch from the 2009 Black Label Masterpiece I was donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s gem collection. The Royal Butterfly is made up of 2,328 gems with a total weight of 77 carats. Four huge faceted diamond slices are stacked atop a pavé layer of faceted diamonds in the butterfly’s wings’ centerpieces, making a design that resembles a living butterfly’s wings.


Royal Butterfly Brooch


Royal Butterfly Brooch.
BLACK LABEL MASTERPIECE I, 2009. Emerald-cut diamond 1.64 cts, diamonds 19.20 cts, fancy colored diamonds, 12.96 cts, sapphires and color-changing sapphires 16.64cts, rubies 8.74cts, tsavorites 1.16cts. 10.5 x 6.4 cm. (Image Source: Cindy Chao).


Ballerina Butterfly Brooch 

The 2014 Black Label Masterpiece I, Ballerina Butterfly, was designed in collaboration with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Cindy Chao and Sarah Jessica Parker. Cindy Chao in collaboration with Sarah Jessica Parker for the Ballerina Butterfly Brooch.

Cindy Chao and I share a wonderful rapport. The experience of creating the Ballerina Butterfly has brought us even closer… as creative partners and friends. I believe high jewelry, like ballet, is a very elevated art form that exudes great expression and great style. It was a privilege to be a part of the creation of something extraordinary… for a wonderful cause. – Sarah Jessica Parker 


Black Label Masterpieces

Cindy Chao’s passion for architecture, sculpture, travel, and nature influenced the Black Label Masterpieces. Each piece is labeled, numbered, and dated, and the limited-edition jewels are produced once a year.


Winter Leaves Necklace 

Winter Leaves Necklace.
BLACK LABEL MASTERPIECE IX, 2016 Pear-shaped diamonds 12.06 cts, oval-shaped diamonds 93.04 cts, round brilliant-cut diamonds 6.3 cts, diamonds 129.26 cts. 24.7 x 18 x 10 cm. (Image Source: Cindy Chao).

The path of jewelry design is one of solitude and adversity. – Cindy Chao

Cindy Chao advises those in the jewelry design industry to have a strong mind and grit to stay focus, and never give up. Cindy Chao turned her $100,000 business back in 2004 into a multi-million dollar high-end jewelry line. We could all learn something from Cindy Chao who turned her dreams into realities in just 16 years.


We hope that you have left reading this article feeling inspired. For more on Cindy Chao’s rise to success, read Cindy Chao And The Business Of High Jewelry.


If you would like to read more about the talent within the jewelry industry. Leave us a comment and let us know. We would love to hear from you.


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Written by Bianca Mac Donald 

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