GemGenève May 2023

Opening ceremony, from left to right: Mathieu Dekeukelaire, Director GemGenève, Thomas Faerber, Co-Founder GemGenève, Thierry Apothéloz, member Swiss Council of State, Ronny Totah, Co-Founder GemGenève, François Longchamp, President Aventinus Foundation. Photo credit: András Barta

The sixth edition of GemGenève, the international fair founded by Ronny Totah and Thomas Faerber to enhance culture and creativity in the world of precious stones and ancient and modern jewelry, was held from May 11-14. This edition saw an increase in the level of participation: in fact, 230 exhibitors took part in the show, including 192 professional dealers. 4320 visitors came to the show from over 85 countries (mainly Switzerland, France, Italy, UK, Belgium, and USA).

GemGenève May 2023. Photo credit: András Barta

A great merit of GemGenève has always been its commitment to expressing the value of innovation and talent in this international context of excellence. The research of Nadège Totah is fundamental: she welcomed six “Emerging Talents” and five “New Designers” to GemGenève, carefully enhancing the creativity and originality of each one. Among the “Emerging Talents”, Fred Fa, a Belgian artist who always starts from manual drawings to create handcrafted jewels of exceptional refinement; Aso Leon, a Chinese artist who applies titanium to high jewelry and is inspired by the “incompleteness” of the natural world; Denise Cassou Couture Jewelry, who draws inspiration from fashion and art to create unique and delicate jewels that celebrate memories of special moments; Rites of Passage Art Jewellery by Teresa Escudero, the eclectic brand that creates “wearable sculptural art” with “extraterrestrial materials”, such as 3.5 billion-year-old metallic meteorites from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; Iwona Tamborska, who gives life to jewels with a deep meaning through materials such as meteorite fragments, plants, and insects, puzzle elements; Wallis Hong, an ingenious artist who is always attentive to learning new craft techniques with the mastery that distinguishes him.

“Emerging Talents” at GemGenève. From left to right: Fred Fa, Aso Leon, Denise Cassou Couture Jewelry, Rites of Passage Art Jewellery by Teresa Escudero, Iwona Tamborska, Wallis Hong. Photo credit for each picture: András Barta

Among the “New Designers”, Austy Lee Art Jewellery from Hong Kong, whose inspiration is an original mix of pop-punk, avant-garde, religion, antiquity, and fashion; Marija Iva from New York, which combines the modernity of the City with the classicism of Europe, where the founding designer Marija Iva studied; Siu, who for the first time at GemGenève expresses emotions and sensations through jewels with a strong personality; Serendipity Jewelry, whose jewelry launches a message of respect for one’s own and others’ freedom and for the natural world; Tenzo from Estonia, the one-of-a-kind jewelry brand that stands out for its refined craftsmanship.

“New Designers” at GemGenève. From left to right: Austy Lee Art Jewellery, Marija Iva, Siu, Serendipity Jewelry, Tenzo. Photo credit for each picture: András Barta

Also in this edition, the journalist and jewelry historian Vivienne Becker, curator of the “Vivarium” space, wanted to celebrate at GemGenève jewelry as a vehicle of beauty, stories, and messages, exhibiting a selection of five international designers. Each of them has “a story to tell”. Creative freedom and genius in the choice of materials, shapes, and craft techniques were the key to the creations presented. “To understand the future – says Vivienne Becker – it is necessary to understand the past”. And here are the five selected talents. Natasha Wightman from the UK has unveiled her first NVW collection, through which she wishes to tell the unexpected stories of a wild and precious natural world. Among the natural elements most dear to her is the raven, a sacred symbol. Leen Heyne from Holland presented creations inspired by “natural forces enclosed in precious materials”. It is the metal itself that, while the jewel takes shape, decides its destiny. And so jewels with minimal, enchanting lines and a strong personality come to life. Lia Lam is an explosion of joy and enthusiasm. Her creations have a masculine soul and at the same time a sensual movement and an innate grace inspired by the world of dance, of which Lia is passionate. “Redefining and contemporizing traditional messages of love, commitment, and celebration” is her mission. Oushaba is a brand founded on the principles of sustainability and circularity. Following these values, the first innovative collection, Connection Salvaged, presented jewels composed of fragments of electronic waste and related elements set in recycled 22-karat gold, 18-karat white gold, and silver, and embellished with stones from sustainable sources. Last but not least, Elena Okutova’s creations create a miraculous dimension, where fantastic inspirations such as Russian folktales and fables, myths, and stories of knights and chivalry come together and give life to a unique artistic identity through complex craft techniques.

“Vivarium” by Vivienne Becker at GemGenève. From left to right: NVW, Leen Heyne, Lia Lam, Oushaba, Elena Okutova. Photo credit for each picture: András Barta

GemGenève is primarily dedicated to professionals and enthusiasts of the industry. In fact, a fundamental characteristic of the fair and its organization is empathy towards the wishes of exhibitors and visitors, who feel welcomed and valued in a dynamic and stimulating environment. This philosophy is demonstrated by the great enhancement of culture, the first sign of attention to the person and to the growth and enrichment of each participant in GemGenève. For this reason, MathieuDekeukelaire, Director of GemGenève, created numerous cultural projects in collaboration with institutions and museums, including the Geneva Museum of Art and History (MAH) which in collaboration with GemGenève created the exhibition Automatons and Music on the mechanisms of automatons, art objects, and music. About 25 masterpieces were presented, including an android depicting Leonardo da Vinci able to write and draw, by François Junod.

Android depicting Leonardo da Vinci able to write and draw, by François Junod. Exhibition Automatons and Music at GemGenève. Photo credit: András Barta

In support of culture, one of the most important challenges today is to bring the young closer to the artistic professions, a precious heritage that risks being lost. Well aware of this urgency is GemGenève, which with the support of Herbert Horovitz, has pursued the goal of spreading knowledge and involving the new generations, organizing within the show the Villa of Lost Arts, a space where several master craftsmen, including lapidarists, engravers, setters and more, presented and exhibited their art. A precious contribution to the industry, which increasingly sees the importance of enhancing and handing down its arts and traditions.

“The Villa of Lost Arts” at GemGenève. Photo credit: András Barta

The show also hosted How Precious UA, the project curated by Strong & Precious Art Foundation, to enhance the Ukrainian cultural heritage. The founders Olga Oleksenko and Natasha Kietiene wanted to give voice to the tradition of this country, as well as the contemporary design that distinguishes it, bringing to the show a selection of six jewels, made by Nomis Jewelry, Inesa Kovalova, Drutis Jewelry, Gunia Project, and Juval Studios.

“How Precious UA”, project curated by Strong & Precious Art Foundation a GemGenève. Photo credit: András Barta

Thanks to the sharing of the philosophy of expressing the value of young talents, Donna Jewel x GemGenève, the first curatorship project by Laura Inghirami and Donna Jewel in collaboration with GemGenève, was presented this year. Under the Creative Direction of Laura Inghirami, talent hunter, the students of High Technician for the Production of High Quality Made in Italy goldsmith products – ITS class II of the Galdus School in Milan (academic year 2022/23) celebrated the excellence of Made in Italy at GemGenève, bringing to the show their creations inspired by the creative theme proposed by Laura Inghirami: “No limits: it’s time for creativity”. The concept arose from the desire to give voice to Italian art, culture, and self-expression through jewelry, without limits and restrictions. And the feedback was very positive: hundreds of professionals and enthusiasts visited Donna Jewel x GemGenève stand, interacting with joy and curiosity. Furthermore, during the days of the show, visitors were invited to vote for their favorite jewel. Hundreds of voters, from more than 30 countries around the world (including the USA, Brazil, Switzerland, and France), announced the young student Allan Paul Salazar as the winner, with his creation Eleutheromania.

“Donna Jewel x GemGenève”, award ceremony at GemGenève. From left to right: Laura Inghirami, Founder Donna Jewel, Nadège Totah, Exhibitor Relations Manager GemGenève, Mathieu Dekeukelaire, Director GemGenève, Thomas Faerber, Co-Founder GemGenève, Ronny Totah, Co-Founder GemGenève, and the students of Galdus Milano. Photo credit: David Fraga

The involvement of schools and young students is always present at GemGenève. For example, once again this year the Grand Théâtre de Genève took part, which in addition to presenting three marvelous costumes from Claudio Monteverdi’s opera The Return of Ulysses, staged last February, involved the students of the second year of Product, Jewellery, and Accessory Design course at HEAD Genève, one of the most important art and design schools in Europe. The students were asked to create and present creations inspired by the musical revolution produced by the Baroque style in the eighteenth century and the allegorical descriptions of time, human tragedy, fate, love, and so on. Valentine Stegmann (HEAD) was awarded the victory of the ‘people’s choice’ award presented by SSEF (Schweizerische Stiftung für Edelstein-Forschung). Furthermore, GemGenève and Grand Théâtre de Genève involved the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève: the young students performed during the show with fascinating musical interludes.

HEAD Award ceremony at GemGenève. Photo credit: András Barta

The Concours de Gouaché saw its second edition in collaboration with CFP Arts Genève (Centre de Formation Professionnelle Arts), ETVJ (Ecole Technique de la Vallee de Joux), and CPNE Pôle Arts Appliqués (Centre de Formation Professionnelle Neuchâtelois) schools and ASMEBI (Association Romande des Métiers de la Bijouterie) association. The students made drawings with the ancient gouaché technique inspired by the theme “Nothing is lost, […] Everything is transformed” (Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier). Small peridots provided as inspiration by Fuli Gemstones have been placed on the illustrations. On Sunday, May 14, the three winners of the contest were announced: Laura Monteiro (CFP Arts Genève) won the ‘people’s choice’ award presented by SSEF, Lilou Magranville (CPNE Pôle Arts Appliqués) won the ASMEBI award, and Éloïse Marclay (CFP Arts Genève) won the Eric Horovitz Foundation Award.

CFP Arts Genève x ETVJ x CPNE Pôle Arts Appliqués at GemGenève. Photo credit: András Barta

“At GemGenève, we place a strong emphasis on culture, young people, training, passing on knowledge and above all, our passion for all aspects of jewelry-making.”  These are the words of Ronny Totah to describe the show. “Precious stones and the creation and design of jewelry – said Thomas Faerber – are of course important to us; nurturing genuine solidarity, bringing together the international community of dealers in precious stones and antique jewelry, designers, and all those with a passion for jewels is equally important”. Not surprisingly, participating in the fair means having a unique cultural experience, in which there is a clear sense of trust of the GemGenève team and the sector towards the future, and consequently towards the younger generations who represent it.

GemGenève May 2023. Photo credit: András Barta