When I started the conceptual process of my thesis, I asked myself, what is jewelry? Why do I choose jewelry as the form to express my concept? What do I want to express through the jewelry that I create? I looked back to Chinese culture for inspiration since that has been the biggest influence in my life. It has molded my mode of thinking, the way I live and how I create.
The original idea of “Hide A Diamond in the Rough” comes from the traditional Chinese philosophy about an attitude towards life called 藏拙 or Cang Zhuos. What does this theory really mean? First of all, it is humbleness. Secondly, it means to sheathe one’s sword instead of boasting about your talent. Still water runs deep, one never knows what lies under the smooth still surface. A person is clever not to show or reveal themselves. To hide does not mean to be afraid or evade, but to avoid unnecessary troubles and to preserve strength. It does not mean that one’s talent should be hidden forever, but to be found when the time is right.
Furthermore, it is also a reflection of me, myself, and how I see people. When saying ‘Hide a diamond in the rough’, “rough” refers to the camouflage individuals use to fit into societal standards. The essence of human nature is abundant, pure, and beautiful. Everyone is unique. Some people are accepted by the majority, while others are not. In order to be accepted, most people hide their real selves inside of an “ordinary” cocoon. Nevertheless, everyone is beautiful and special in his or her own way. I believe that people should not judge others by their external appearance because you never know if they might be hiding a diamond inside.
In order to guide the audience through my concept, I intend to make a series of works in different sizes and functions. Each will have one thing in common, something is hidden inside. Because of this feature, the audience needs to go through an exploratory process in order to have a full view and concept of my work. Similar to a treasure hunt, although it is not just about finding the hidden “diamond.” It is also about the idea of finding the “diamond” within yourself and in other people you encounter. Under the rough cover, there might be a diamond underneath, waiting to be found.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Artist-designed jewelry--Technique; Artist-designed jewelry--Themes, motives; Art metal-work--Technique; Art metal-work--Themes, motives; Wearable art
Metals and Jewelry Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School for American Crafts (CIAS)
Liaung Chung Yen
Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez
Zhang, Quan, "Cang Zhuo——Hide The Diamond in the Rough" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus