Wallace Chan is an outstanding figure in the jewelry world. He became the first Chinese jewelry artist represented at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht and Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. His creations are part of the permanent collection of the British Museum, his exhibitions were held at Asia House in London and Christie’s Gallery in Hong Kong. He travels the world to give lectures and talks.
It is hard to define Chan only as a jeweler. He is a renaissance type of artist, an inventor, and living evidence of the idea that if you pour all of your passion and effort till the last drop – the impossible becomes a reality. Some of his pieces resemble the effect of impressionists paintings: at the first glance, you see a vibrating kaleidoscope of colors creating a solid image, full of life. Then, you realize that it consists of hundreds of stones, cut perfectly in plenty of ways and, set one by one, patiently. Other pieces look as if they came from another planet.
Jewelry pieces by Wallace Chan are illustrations of his spiritual path and life philosophy. Even talking about his inventions, he transforms them into life lessons.
The first invention, made in 1987, was the Wallace cut. It is a technique that allows creating a 360-degree image inside a stone by carving. It requires special tools that Chan had to invent by modifying dental drills. If you manipulate a small gemstone with a drill, it will cause heating and lead to damages. To avoid it, Chan had to complete the carving process with his hands, a tool, and the stone submerged, which means working almost by touch.
Talking about the experience and difficulties he faced, he made a parallel with the unexpected difficulties that may arise life, which sometimes ruin our plans or give a halt to our dreams to come true. But if you really want to achieve something, you may just want to find another way to do it. And this approach is the red ribbon of Wallace Chan’s art: just keep doing, no matter what.
As a result, two “gemstone-setting-gemstone” techniques were born. It might sound like the famous Mystery Set of Van Cleef & Arpels, but it’s a step way forward, implying claws, mortises and tenons and, no metal, of course.
The style of Wallace is the opposite of minimalism. His wearable sculptures are full of details and pretty big. Thinking of comfort, he makes them in titanium. This metal is much more difficult to work with than gold or platinum and requires a certain level of experience. But the weight of titanium is only one-fifth than the one of gold which means, a big titanium pin won’t damage your dress as a golden one (same size) would.
Another innovation, the one which won him a place at the British museum is the “Wallace Chan Porcelain”. Its main feature is the strength, which is 5 times higher than steel. It is nearly unbelievable that a person who has reached such heights in the art of jewelry initially approached this business not out of love, but out of need. He comes from a humble background, but as someone says, the stars are the limit, and this was the case.
To conclude, I would like like to quote the artist: I have heard that the “Wallace Cut” was impossible. Titanium was impossible. The “Wallace Chan Porcelain” was impossible. But it was thanks to all these “impossibles” that each of these creations became a reality.