PARIS - Chinese collectors flew in by private jet this week to buy the latest creations from the world's top designers at the 2014 Biennale des Antiquaires, and made a beeline for Wallace Chan's intricately crafted jewellery.
One of the great names in his field of contemporary design, his sculptures of insects, flowers and fish sculptures in coloured titanium and colourful gems drew collectors, artistic directors at top jewellery houses, up-and-coming designers and artisans seeking inspiration for their own work.
"When I carve, and when I work on a gemstone, I am very tender," Chan told Reuters at the Sept. 11-21 exhibition in Paris's vast Grand Palais. "When I see a gem, if I feel for it, I try to communicate it through light and colours," he said.
Works on display included "On Dragon Fly Wings", made of oval-shaped jadeite, pink sapphires, coloured diamonds and garnets in a carved titanium setting.
"This is where jewellery meets art at the highest level," said Alexander Davis, who owns a boutique in Mayfair, London, Chan and fellow A-list designer Giampiero Bodino showcased their work alongside some of the finest jewels from the world's top brands and designers as well as vintage works from the likes of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari.
The leading Parisian houses produced striking pieces that reflected their past and defined them as brands: Cartier's panther, Van Cleef & Arpels' gem-encrusted fairy clips - inspired this time by the fairy tale, Peau d'Âne, and Bulgari's Serpenti collection, with snakes a house emblem since the 1940s.
Dior presented jewels inspired by its own couture heritage.
Mingling with the super-rich was Paris-based Jothi-Seroj Ebroussard, of Atelier Ebroussard, a young artisan who has worked on pieces for some of the leading Parisian maisons.
He came to to gather ideas, admiring the combinations of precious materials and the transformable applications of the pieces, and to network with prospective clients.
Among the billionaire crowd, Laurence Graff, the "king of diamonds", and an art lover, wove between the booths.
His firm showed off extraordinarily rare gemstones including the Royal Star of Paris - a mesmeric brooch featuring the Graff Sunflower, a 107.46 carat yellow cushion-cut diamond - and the Graff Perfection, a 100.00 carat "D flawless" pear-shape drop.
The world has seen very few diamonds that exceed 100 carats, so it is unprecedented that two stones of such quality and carat weight have been brought together in one jewel.
Vintage jewellery also was a big draw for collectors.
Siegelson presented outstanding Art Deco pieces, including an aquamarine, diamond and enamel bracelet by Jean Fouquet, for Maison Georges Fouquet, Paris, dated 1926, and a Tutti Frutti bracelet by Cartier, circa 1928.
Art Deco influences permeated the contemporary designs at the show. Among them, the tassels seen on some Piaget, Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery.
Rome-based jeweller Bulgari showed off pieces from its heritage collection, including actress Elizabeth Taylor's platinum and emerald necklace - a wedding present from her husband Richard Taylor in 1964.