Inspired by her background in sculpture and love of art, New-York based designer Wing Yau developed her fine jewellery line WWAKE in 2012, “A thoughtful balance of tension and scale, re-contextualising jewellery into unexpected arrangements and modern silhouettes with the intention of merging art with the intimacy of jewellery”. A conscious and ethical brand making for the perfect understated yet radiant heirloom. WWAKE’s selection of jewellery is distinct in its signature contoured shapes and organic forms, range of precious gemstones, fair-mined gold and conflict-free, reclaimed diamonds that are all carefully crafted with quality materials. Adhering to their commitment to sustainability and ethos of impact, all of WWAKE’s specialty stones are environmentally responsible in their mining, in addition to their proceeds going straight to the micro mining communities of Malawi.
In an interview with Vogue speaking obout the successful impact WWAKE has had on sustainable mining, Yau spoke on her long-held reverence for raw materials, sharing “I was trained to believe in the simplicity and magic behind the materials and letting them speak for themselves. But if I’m talking about the inherent value of our [stones and gold], shouldn’t I know where they’ve actually been?” This is what led her to develop a revised transparent model for sustainable sourcing methods and a tighter supply chain. “We switched our sourcing so we were only working directly with the miners, or with friends who are activists in the coloured-gemstone industry. The problem is that there aren’t a lot of standards in gemstones. It’s super old-school. The industry is so big that the provenance of the gemstones becomes invisible, because they pass through so many hands. But that can’t survive in this new generation—we’re all looking for more information. People are really asking, ‘Who mined this stone?’ ”
Yau works only with certified Fair-mined operations, where working conditions as well as the product’s quality are both ensured. WWAKE’s gorgeous iridescent opals are truly authentic under Yau’s rigorous standards and watch, as gemstones from uncertified and unrealisable sources can be compromised as they’re often heated to alter their colours or spliced with glass, “For me, it comes down to the magic of the stone — and if half of it is synthetic, it loses that integrity” she shared.
Yau is also a pioneer when it comes to her radical approach to her designs, sharing “We design around the colours of the stones the mines give us. It’s the opposite of saying, ‘I want my collection to include these colours,’ and going to search for stones in those specific shades. That’s really not sustainable in the long run—only 3 percent of the material we unearth is precious gemstone material, and the quality you’re looking for within that 3 percent [for jewellery] is so much less. So it’s made me more conscientious about how we design. We have more limited options, but it becomes a lot more personal, because it connects you directly to the hands of the people who mined that stone. There’s something super luxurious about only a few people touching our jewellery.”
Stunning design and finishings, browse their Wisp, Botany, Core, Monolith, Minutia, Lineage and Gestures collections. WWAKE also takes custom orders under their Futures collection, custom engagement rings and wedding bands for the unorthodox but sophisticated ‘quietly luxe’ bride. Most of the pieces from the bridal range employ the rose cut technique, popular during the Edwardian era, over the classic brilliant cut. Yau explains “Rose-Cut stones have fewer facets cut into them. They remind me of water when they shine, and they’re a little more understated in this world of diamonds that have been cut to enhance the most brilliance possible. That’s a cool thing that mankind has done, but we’re always looking for something that feels a little more special than what the market provides.”
Worn and loved by our fave celebs including Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and Emma Watson.
Shop some of our favourites from the collection here: