If you were generating words associated with jewellery, it wouldn’t take long to come up with romance. And award-winning designer and artist Anabela Chan agrees. “Jewellery is timeless,” she says. “It does not decay or go away. It is a chance to hold onto the past and at the same time reach out to the future, and I find that endearingly romantic.”
It is true that Anabela’s work feels like it has the capacity to hold emotions and memories: her pieces have a timeless quality. Her eclectic skillset has been evident since launching her jewellery label back in 2013. She comes from three generations of cinematographers, having grown up in London and Paris, and has a background in architecture, fashion, print and embroidery. This shows through in her designs, which are visually ingenious, reminiscent of vibrant markets with eye-catching contrasting colours. Her designs meld vulnerability and strength, delicate settings unashamedly embedded with bright gemstones.
“Travelling to the exotic and the Orient is one of my greatest passions,” says Anabela. “Through my travels, I collect unusual gems and treasures from local markets, nature and the unusual people I meet. I then use my findings to create limited editions of couture jewellery that are almost like souvenirs of my journeys. Each piece is one-of-a-kind; a story-telling treasure that can be worn or displayed alike.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Anabela carries out virtually no marketing, successfully relying on word-of-mouth by ensuring her jewellery maintains its meticulous and exclusive craftsmanship. Her statement pieces have graced many a red carpet and been worn by iconic movie stars and royalty alike. Each item maintains its own identity, while allowing complimentary pieces to intensify, and not swamp, the look. Anabela also uses black diamonds and pearls for those wishing to blend their jewellery into an ensemble. Her playful side is visible in items such as rings in the shape of kittens and puppies. She’s not afraid of working with a range of colours and mediums, including feathers; the message seems to be that there really is no end to the possibilities.
Anabela is passionate about humanitarian and environmental issues, hence her quest to produce ethical sustainable jewellery. Having visited a gemstone mine on her honeymoon to Sri Lanka, she was shocked by the conditions and began researching alternative ways of producing quality laboratory-grown gemstones, as well as using recycled artefacts. The company proudly supports a range of charities and initiatives, including the Elton John Aids Foundation and Women for Women International.
Anabela remains resolutely philosophical about her collections. “As with all design disciplines, I believe it is about learning from the past, to offer a different perspective in the present, and always with a dream for a better future,” she says.
The Anabela Chan flagship boutique is in Ham Yard, near Piccadilly Circus in central London. Due to COVID-19, it is currently closed but the brand is working out of its online boutique (email queries here). Ready to book your virtual appointment?