Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Diamonds and Gold Earrings
from the 
La Feuilles Dan Le Vent de Pékin Collection
Over 2,000 types of trees and 500 species of flower make up part of the extraordinary collection of plants within the Beijing Botanical Garden in China.

There are plenty of exhibition areas to view including a rose garden, a herb garden, and a tree and peony garden. China is also the home of featured jewelry designer Bao Bao Wan.

At first glance, Wan's waif-like proportions and delicate features are a direct contrast to the power and gravity of her astonishing jewelry.

Nevertheless, her dainty exterior betrays an ironclad will and steely ambition.  The daughter of a government minister and the granddaughter of Wan Li, the former Vice Premier, and Chairman of the National People's Congress, Wan grew up during a period when Chinese women were groomed to forego their personal aspirations.

Today's China, with its ever-changing socio-economic landscape, is a decidedly different scenario. "I live in Asia where girls peak in their 20s, then they are picked by the men for marriage and a woman's life is over," she acknowledges. "I hate it."

Although emotional and outspoken on the topic of the treatment of women in China's, she embraces the current winds of change; and she maintains a deep-set love for her country despite its flaws.

"My country is strong and powerful. I have always been proud of my country," she assures. Her jewelry is a stunning representation of the lives of women, including her mother, intermingled with her own life.

Many items from her L'Amour Paradoxal Collection feature beautiful symbolic, gold and diamond replicas of butterflies and bamboo. "The ephemeral butterfly is a Chinese girl expected to accept the solid bamboo, which can never change," she explains. "Every piece of my jewelry represents me and a generation of Chinese women who are fragile yet very bold."

Her jewelry also resonates with childhood memories of autumn in Beijing and Chinese architecture. Having once considered employment as both a bus conductor, and a lawyer Wan chose jewelry design for its capacity to provide beauty as well as inspire others to follow their dreams as she had.

With a gemology degree, received from the Gemological Institute of America, and a photographer's eye for detail, Wan established her company Bao Bao Wan Fine Jewelry three years ago. She creates exquisite pieces with gold and opulent gemstones like emeralds, South Sea Pearls, and sapphires.

Her French-titled collections--a nod to her French literature studies and time lived in Paris--add a touch of romance and elegance. Her La Coquetterie Collection features an evocative single, vine flower pod.

In one item, the stem coils protectively around the textured, gold surface of a cuff bracelet while the flower pod rests prominently against it.

In other designs, the flower pod seems almost melancholic in its somewhat languid depiction.

Wan loves the timeless quality of jewelry as well as its capacity to provide her with a creative and emotional outlet.
Black Diamond and Gold Bangle from the La Coquetterie Collection

"My jewelry reflects my complex personality and life experiences," she says.

"I am strong and independent yet fragile and sensitive. Each piece is a metaphor for the modern woman."
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