Taiwan-born designer's work graces Bhutan's queen

Bhutan's new Queen, Jetsun Pema. Photo: File

New York, Dec. 5 (CNA) Many people watched a royal wedding in Bhutan in October and admired the country's beautiful new queen, but they might not have known that the earrings worn by the queen were created by a Taiwan-born jewelry designer.

Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck married Jetsun Pema in a three-day wedding celebration in which Pema wore the earrings designed by Anna Hu, who was born in Tainan, southern Taiwan.

The design, named "happy poppy," delighted the queen so much that she wore them again during a state visit to Japan last month when she and the king visited the Japanese royal family and went to the areas affected by the March 11 earthquake.

Hu explained the idea of using the opium poppy as the basis for the design, saying that contradictory to the usual perception as a narcotic, she chose it because "the blue poppy is the national flower of Bhutan and its color is the most pure and graceful blue that I've ever seen, and quite suitable for the landlocked paradise country."

A yellow diamond in the design symbolizes Bhutan's rice harvest, while images representing Tibetan heaven and earth, as well as the cosmos, form the "happy poppy" series, which includes earrings, a necklace and a ring.

Asked why the Bhutan royal family commissioned her to create the design, Hu noted that one of the members of her family was a classmate of the Bhutan King and that she herself visited the country 12 years ago, where she was impressed by its pristine beauty and the passion toward the land displayed by the king, then a young prince.

Because of this experience and her Asian background, the Bhutan royal family contacted her through the family member and asked her to design the wedding jewelry with an oriental flavor combining Bhutan features and Tibetan tradition.

Hu's work is also popular with many Hollywood celebrities. Award-winning actress Hilary Swank wore her jewelry at this year's Oscars.

Other celebrity fans include Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore and Oprah Winfrey.

Hu learned to play piano at four and cello at seven, and was sent to study music in the United States at the age of 14. Her music career came to an end because of a shoulder injury in 1997, however, when she was just 20. She was so depressed that her father advised her to learn jewelry design and appraisal.

Consequently, Hu's life changed direction completely and she very soon began to make her mark.

Today, she has her own brand, Haute Joaillerie, and is the first designer of Chinese descent to have a boutique on New York's Fifth Avenue.

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