Jewelry Designer Spotlight: Wendy Yue

Wendy Yue makes jewelry designs that are like something from a dream. A world where lily pads are made up of layers of emeralds and tsavorites, fairies nod their heads in ombre sapphires, or an enchanted rose from a fairy tale wraps around your throat.

Wendy Yue Snakes

Just a few of Wendy Yue’s Slithering Snakes.

Wendy’s designs are so out-of-this-world that I was expecting to find someone who exists in a different, alternate-universe sort of plane. What I found, though, meeting her in Las Vegas at the Couture Jewelry Show, was a beautiful woman who was quietly articulate. Even though she has a magical way with designing, I was beguiled—and somewhat relieved—to find out that she is also a mom who once forgot to leave a gift from the tooth fairy. It was comforting to know that I’m not alone in that, and that Wendy IS actually human after all (and not a fairy herself).
Wendy Yue Magical Forest Bangle

I tried on this Wendy Yue Magical Forest bangle and ring one-piece. It’s impossible to describe how incredible it is.

Wendy studied language and culture in Vienna: there is an exquisiteness in her creations that likely comes from that influence. Her interest in jewelry began when she worked for a jewelry company owned by a friend. Her own brand, Wendy Yue, was established around 5 years ago, but she has been designing and manufacturing jewelry for about 20 years. She started out designing more classic pieces, then evolved into using animals and wildlife in her constructions. With her own brand, Wendy is free to explore her own interior landscape.
Wendy Yue Rapacious Rose Necklace

Wendy Yue Rapacious Rose Necklace.

It’s no coincidence that I reference dreams, as Wendy has been deeply affected by her subconscious. A few years ago, she had recurring dreams–nightmares actually–involving snakes covering the floors where she lived. Over and over, the dreams haunted her. One day she started drawing snakes, creating jewelry designs from their forms, and found that the dreams went away. It’s interesting to note that in China, dreams about snakes have a good connotation: it means a good sign for the future.
Wendy Yue Diamond Bat Earcuffs

Wendy Yue Diamond Bat Earcuffs.

Wendy’s creations tell a story in form and gemstones. A monkey on a two-finger ring stares at the fruit on the neighboring finger, you can see him gather himself for the jump to the next knuckle to claim it. A nocturnal owl is scrupulously crafted in inlaid fluorescent Turquoise from Turkmenistan: the stone comes alive at night, just like its subject matter. Each piece has the ability to transport you from the current world to one where fairies are real, and play in a rainforest of gems.
Wendy Yue Owl Cuff

Wendy Yue Prowl Cuff in fluorescent turquoise.

Wendy Yue Interview

I was honored to have the chance to ask Wendy a few long-harbored questions about her jewelry and vision.

idazzle: The gemstones you use are extraordinary, and it seems a huge part of the execution of your particular vision. How do you go about finding the perfect gem(s) to express yourself?
Wendy Yue: I source my own stones: I have a partner who cuts and carves many of the stones for me.

Wendy Yue Opal Angels

Wendy Yue Opal Angels.

Does the design start with the stone, or do you draw first and then have to source the stone and have it fashioned for you?

Both. Many designs start with the stone, and sometimes it takes a while to find something I need for a particular design. Of course, sometimes I find a gem that I just have to have, without a particular design in mind. I really value the artistry of the stone itself. Then I just hang onto it…
Wendy Yue Swan Paradise

Wendy Yue Swan Paradise connected ring.

So you’re a stone hoarder ☺?
{Laughs}. Yes, I guess you could say that.

What is the longest you have held onto a special stone?
I have had a piece of carved coral for over 10 years.

I can’t wait to see what happens to that! How do you do your design work, from sketches, notes, wax molds?
I wake up at night a lot with an image in my head, literally from a dream. Sometimes I make notes, and then work from the words or sometimes a drawing.

Wendy Yue Turquoise Delight Necklace

Wendy Yue Turquoise Delight Necklace.

Your pieces are so dimensional and articulated, yet somehow they end up being very comfortable. How do you account for wearability with your work?
For many pieces, we build silver prototypes. This allows us to figure out the details perfectly and make sure everything moves just the way it’s supposed to. I have very high expectations, so I sometimes have to put my frustrations aside when something doesn’t work. It’s better to do it in silver and get it right before moving to gold and gemstones.

Wendy Yue Tree Fairy Earrings

Wendy Yue Tree Fairy Earrings.

I expect that your collectors are very passionate about your work. Do you ever connect with your collectors?

Yes, mostly through special exhibitions. My collectors like art, often in a variety of forms. It’s very gratifying to hear them say “I came from Canada to see you, to collect from you”.

Are you inspired by meeting them?

Ultimately, there is no way to distill a description of her jewelry in mere words: Wendy’s jewelry has to be seen to be believed. You can see her designs at a number of retailers around the world: Fragments in NYC, Bergdorf Goodman, and Marissa Collections, with more listed here on her website.

Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your visions with us! I highly recommend finding her designs and trying something on: to put on one of her articulated rings (or bracelets or necklaces or earrings) is to transport yourself to another place altogether. You need to experience the reverie.

Wendy Yue Image

The artist, Wendy Yue.

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