Anabela Chan: Nature leads the way

Anabela Chan wears many hats. First starting out as an architect, today the jewelry designer skillfully blends the parallel between architecture and jewelry. Her mastery of design proportions, geometries, color palettes, textures, and a deep understanding of materials and construction result in pieces that are both scientifically precise and artistically driven. In her philosophy, jewelry and architecture intersect where science meets art, resulting in extraordinary creations.

Chan is renowned for her celebration of lab-grown gemstones, pioneering sustainability in fine jewelry. Her mission is to shift from destruction to conservation through the merging of scientific advancements with artistic creation, resulting in a new perspective for a better future for both people and the planet.

Nature leads the way and serves as the primary inspiration for Chan's designs, from the intricate details of flora and fauna to the mesmerizing forms of birds, seashells, and underwater coral reefs. Her work embodies the magic and freedom she observes in the natural world, making each piece a timeless treasure. 

How does your background as an architect influence your approach to designing jewelry? 
Architecture and jewelry share many parallels - from design proportions to geometries, color palettes to textures and an understanding of materials and constructions. In my design philosophy, they are both an intersection where science meets art.

Your pieces are a celebration of lab grown gemstones. Why have you chosen this path in fine jewelry and what are the most common misconceptions around these stones that you've come across?
From day one it has always been our mission to be the most sustainable fine jewelry brand – we are the first fine jewelry brand in the world to champion laboratory-grown gemstones and recycled metals with high jewelry design and artisanal craftsmanship, always with a focus on ethical and circular innovations. I believe it is important to learn from the past to offer a different perspective in the present, always in mind for a better future, for both people and the planet. Not many people know, commercial industrial mining is one of the most destructive industries on the planet.  To mine a one carat diamond, 1,100 tonnes of earth has to be removed from the ground.  If we can move away from destruction to conservation through science and artistic creation, I think that is a wonderful thing.


What are your main design influences?
I’m most inspired by nature, from floral and fauna to birds, seashells and underwater coral reefs and more, in both micro and macro scale. I think the most beautiful colors, textures, geometries and forms exist in nature and I try to capture a singular moment of magic in my jewelry creations. I love to work by hand from sketching to painting the designs, then carving each creation in wax like a miniature sculpture before casting in precious metals and setting with color gemstones. Our creations are about pairing the most innovative material science with the most traditional artisan craftsmanship in fine jewelry, that are both joyful and extraordinary.

We are big treasure hunting fans. What is the story behind your favorite treasure?
I love observing birds and butterflies in flight, there is something magical about their mesmerizing colors and movement in the air – they evoke a sense of freedom and wonder. I love traveling around the world to study them with local entomologists. With my collection of specimens I have created a series of Bloom Sculptures with preserved butterfly wings during my studies at the Royal College of Art, and they are possibly my favorite treasures.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Last week my 5 year old son came home with a drawing from school where he was asked to draw the 5 things that make him happiest – and he drew our family of 4 with our dog. It was so precious! 

I also have a very special aquamarine and diamond cocktail ring by Buccellati that my mother gifted me, it was a gift from my father originally who purchased it in the year I was born, from their flagship store on 5th Avenue in NY that many years ago. 

What sparked the initial love for your trade? Was there a defining moment or person? 
Jewelry is the most empowering and magical thing you can wear – it brings joy, inspires emotions and elevates the spirit like no other. I also love its longevity to transcend generations – it is timeless, 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.

What's one lesson you've learned from a challenge you faced in your career? 
Good sleep and rest is the key to putting your best step forward to work and to life. You are investing in your business by sleeping early. Ariana Huffington called it sleeping our way to the top and I love that.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it? 
Fly in the sky like a bird, time travel through the ages, step through a doorway to any place in the world in a split second. 

What music is playing in the background when you're designing? 
Jazz - I particularly love latino jazz and bossa nova beats. I used to play the drum kit in a jazz band for 6 years at boarding school, to my professional classical pianist mother’s horror!