“I wanted to create an exquisite gem in the city,” says Anabela Chan of her bijou fine-jewellery boutique in the courtyard of the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. Showcasing her exuberant, statement-making pieces alongside her personal collection of taxidermy birds and her intriguing artworks, the space is an art deco-esque tour de force – designed by her husband, Jimmy Hung, an architect at Heatherwick Studio. “He devised every cabinet and fixture, as well as the Italian marble, brass and walnut finishes.”
Gold-edged vitrines hold ornate cuffs (from £2,200) and feathered necklaces (from £1,990), while a stuffed crane and preserved parrots stand sentry over Chan’s exotic Butterfly Bloom sculptures (from £9,000). These ethereal arrangements, sourced from the jungles of Brazil and mountains of Mexico, are housed in sculptural, tinted-glass domes “reminiscent of water droplets” that are hand-blown in Wiltshire.
The grandchild of a noted Chinese film director and cinematographer, Chan first trained as an architect, practising with Richard Rogers, before turning her passion for drawing flora and fauna into print and embroidery design work for Alexander McQueen. “But I craved making things with my hands,” says Chan, who then headed to the Royal College of Art to study jewellery design.
She launched her eponymous brand in 2013 with 20 spectacular cocktail rings, and today her creations – “full of the magnificent colours, textures and geometries of nature” – have an international following, including Kit Kemp and Lady Gaga. Known for her use of vibrant stones such as sapphires, amethysts, garnets and peridots, Chan handcrafts each piece in her Chelsea atelier – from the dramatic Bumble Rose Ring (£910) with enamel and coral flowers and gem-encrusted bees surrounding a stunning aquamarine solitaire, to the dazzling Aqua Papillon drop earrings (£1,360), in 18ct gold vermeil with peridots and diamonds.
Unlike many fine jewellers, Chan delights in using laboratory-grown gems – such as the aquamarine mentioned above, as well as champagne diamonds and Japanese opals – but some of her most striking pieces focus on natural stones. The sculptural, modern Morpho Bloom cuff (£13,900), for example, is encrusted with ethically mined white diamonds, and the ornate Cinderella ring (£26,000) in white, yellow and black gold is set with a vivid, multifaceted 13.6ct blue topaz. Equally eye-catching are her one-off Triton earrings (price on request) – clusters of red and pink coral, Swarovski crystals and glass beads inspired by reefs in the Aegean Sea – and the bold Poseidon necklace (price on request), which combines turquoise and hand-dyed blue coral to spectacular effect.
Chan welcomes bespoke work too; she delights in setting treasured gems into new rings (from £30,000); a more outré commission was a tribal-inspired neckpiece in red macaw feathers for Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner. “Jewellery isn’t rocket science,” says Chan, “but it can bring immense joy and empowerment. It’s often a celebration of the past and the future. I find that endearingly romantic.”