Wing Yau’s foray into fine jewelry was all about delightfully dainty and geometric minimalist gold pieces featuring diamond and opal patterns borrowed from her background in sculpture. “The skill sets are very similar, though jewelry is miniature in comparison to the big bronze sculptures I was used to making; it was a relief to discover that I could make things this small.” Yau’s love of anthropology, materials, stones and their history also influence her work. “I’m very interested in not stripping a material off its anthropological past.” This, she elaborates, is a huge impetus behind the storytelling in her brand WWAKE. “I’m really inspired by materials, like where they come from,” she says.
Her debut line, with its itsy bitsy delicate creations, spawned an ‘opal addiction’. “The timing was just amazing. I didn’t really pay attention to trends but with the debut collection, we hit the spot on the opal trend.” In her subsequent and more substantial Monolith collection, the New York-based designer expanded the range with a revival of “ancient silhouettes combined with light, airy stone patterns”. Yau merges art with jewelry in a creative dialogue, shaping each design withunmistakable simplicity. “For me, it’s more about how forms and elements relate to each other,” she explains.
For the De Beers Group’s Ten/Ten design initiative, which tasks independent designers with creating a price-sensitive commitment ring featuring an ethically sourced diamond from Botswana, Yau explores sculptures, metal objects and spheres. “From a design perspective, it was not easy because I could use only one stone and in a unique new design; most of my designs are set with multiple stones and my Monolith collection had already featured single and centered round stones.” Balancing weight with an element of lightness, Yau eventually designed the Duo Ring Pairing in her signature contour shape. Made of 14 karat yellow Fairmined gold from Peru, it is comprised of a plain cigar band and a solitaire set in an arc-shaped slim band.
“The rings nestle inside each other in a partnership between a delicate design and a heavier design. They can be stacked to create different forms, worn separately or paired with other rings,” says Yau. It’s also worth noting that the Duo Ring Pairing is intended to evolve with its wearer over time, similar to how a relationship evolves. “My designs are quite simple and open to interpretation. There’s a lot of metaphor for how I want people to approach the jewelry—it can be a metaphor for family, for personal growth or the evolution of a relationship.”
For Yau, the traceability of the diamonds, back to its source, was also an important part of the design conversation. “Botswana has an amazing story; it’s a strong example of driving positive impact at source, but people don’t always get to connect to the exact story. Now we are able to guide people to the original story,” she explains. “It is quite incredible that we haven’t seen a partnership like this in jewelry before with a platform as big as Blue Nile. This collaboration is very exciting.”
The Duo Ring Pairing from WWAKE for the Ten/Ten design project will be sold exclusively on Blue Nile in January 2021.