There’s hidden meanings pinned to Lin Cheung’s carved brooches

Lin Cheung at Gallery
'Delayed Reactions - Evasive' two-sided brooch in Belgian black marble, howlite and 14ct gold, by Lin Cheung. Photography: Lin Cheung and ©2018 Gallery SO
(Image credit: Lin Cheung)

‘It’s an intended as a throwaway remark’ says British jeweller and lecturer Lin Cheung of ‘It’s a Jewellery Thing’ – the name of her latest exhibition at east London’s Gallery SO. Cheung is known for her reinterpretation of traditional jewellery forms, such as lockets and pearl necklaces, and her Delayed Reactions, a series of carved brooches presented as part of her latest exhibition, is particularly on point.

‘The series reflects the mixed emotions I feel about current affairs,’ Cheung explains of the brooches. She has modelled the pieces on political statement pins – those ubiquitous plastic badges seen attached to backpacks or lapels to convey political or cultural messages. 

They are imagined in a series of eclectic and unexpected semi-precious materials and stones, including marble, howlite (which is often dyed to resemble turqouise), rock crystal and pink opal. A rose quartz brooch is named Rose Tinted. A rock crystal design, which resembles a circle of smashed glass, is titled Troubled Times.

Cheung also uses fabricated materials including Corian and howlite, and stripes of glittery nail varnish to play with viewer perception. This trickery is the jeweller’s way of commenting on today’s political climate.

Elsewhere, a Lapis lazuli brooch, with a sad smiley face formed from gold stars, is her comment on Britain’s referendum.

The carved stone brooches, Cheung says, presented a slow, unpredictable way of working – in direct contrast, of course, to the throwaway pin badges which they reflect. They naturally muted palette of her chosen materials, in direct contrast to the typical graphic design of slogan pins, also held a particular attraction.

Lin Cheung at Gallery SO

'Delayed Reactions - Rose Tinted' brooch in carved rose quartz and 18ct gold, by Lin Cheung

(Image credit: TBC)

Lin Cheung at Gallery SO

'Delayed Reactions - Nail Your Colours – Green, White, Violet' brooch in rock crystal, nail varnish and 18ct gold

(Image credit: Lin Cheung)

Lin Cheung at Gallery SO

'Delayed Reactions - Troubled Times' brooch in rock crystal and 18ct yellow gold, by Lin Cheung

(Image credit:  Lin Cheung)

Lin Cheung at Gallery SO

'Delayed Reactions - Evasive' two-sided brooch in Belgian black marble, howlite and 14ct gold, by Lin Cheung 

(Image credit: Lin Cheung )

Lin Cheung Gallery So Exhibition gallery

'Delayed Reactions - Slightly Sad' brooch in lapis lazuli and 18ct gold, by Lin Cheung

(Image credit: TBC)

brooch in rock crystal and 18ct gold, Lin Cheung

'Delayed Reactions - Crystal Clear' brooch in rock crystal and 18ct gold, by Lin Cheung

(Image credit: Lin Cheung)


’Lin Cheung: It’s a Jewellery Thing’ is on view until 25 March. For more information, visit the Gallery SO website and the Lin Cheung website


Gallery SO
92 Brick Lane
London E1 6RL


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.