GemGenève May 2024

The eighth edition of GemGenève was held at Palexpo from 9 to 12 May 2024. The international jewelry fair has become a prestigious reference in the industry, and was welcomed again this year with great enthusiasm and growing numbers, with 244 exhibitors including dealers, traders in gemstones and emerging artists from 22 countries around the world. 3,566 visitors from over 75 nationalities lived this experience, 10% more than the previous edition.

GemGenève May 2024 opened with a Press Conference focused on the importance of talent, culture, and dedication. Teamwork, which at each edition gives life to a fair of excellence full of innovations, emerged as a fundamental value for the show: Ronny Totah, Co-Founder of GemGenève, spoke in fact about the importance of the team, of cooperation and of the passion of each member (also mentioning one of the team members who had his birthday on the same day as the inauguration).

Nadège Totah, member of the Board of Directors, curated the space dedicated to “Emerging Talents” and “New Designers” and explained the talent selection method at GemGenève: “I don’t have any specific criteria for selecting designers for inclusion in the Designers’ Village; I let my sensibility guide me, which is the only way for me to make authentic choices.”Among the participants in the “Emerging Talents” category we found: William Llewellyn Griffiths from Australia, the ingenious artist who wants to celebrate life through kinetic jewels and astonishing mechanisms; Aso Leon, from China, which with a modern design aims to reinterpret natural elements by playing with colors and lights; Jaqueline Powers from the USA, who sees jewelry as a part of dressing, thus merging the world of jewelry and fashion; Shavarsh Hakobian, from Armenia, who loves to experiment with sometimes unusual materials such as wood, leather, and fabric, putting the idea of movement at the center of his jewels; the Italian brand Villa Milano, with its five-generation goldsmith tradition, today represented by Alice and Francesca Villa who choose unconventional materials alongside noble metals. In the “New Designers” category we found: Siu, an artist who makes extensive use of color to suggest tenderness and imagination, drawing inspiration from the life experiences of the founder Xiao Xintong; Chong Ho Art Jewelry from Hong Kong, which looks at nature with creations characterized by a profound sense of balance – in this edition the artist presented jewels rich in symbolism, where love and freedom were represented with infinite care. Furthermore, we discovered the story of Diana Zhang, who interprets jewelry as a way to explore the meaning of life. Her pieces are extremely realistic and are a reflection of real life. Diva Jewels then, based in Mumbai, presented creations including the brooch depicting an elephant that moves its ears and tail, just like a real elephant that expresses happiness. Among the “New Designers” was also Lagarde, a French designer who presented her first line of jewelry during the fair.

For the first time GemGenève presented a new category, “Masterpiece”. Alicia Stanska, of Polish origin, was the first to exhibit her work, entitled “Equilibrium of Powers”. The work consists of a life-size haute couture dress, entirely hand-embroidered with over 110,000 Swarovski crystals. Her creation took more than three years. A unique piece, a real jewel-dress. “The work – explains the artist – represents the beginning of a project that will end in 2036. The first piece is inspired by Moza Bint Nasser, Sheikh of Qatar, an incredible woman, socially committed in the fight against domestic violence against children. The second piece is inspired by the samurai Miyamoto Musashi, author of a work on life, fight, and death, who fought without armour: I decided to create his armour. The gold color of ‘Equilibrium of Powers’ represents lightness, while black represents individuality and power. Salvador Dalí’s egg inspiration also symbolizes the rebirth of female emancipation.”

The value of culture is strong and, as in every edition of the show, it was possible to perceive it as a key element of GemGenève even during the Press Conference. Mathieu Dekeukelaire, Director of GemGenève, focused his speech on cultural events, such as the exhibition he curated, “Flames of Opal Essence”, dedicated to opal, a precious stone as enigmatic as it is magnificent. “Since ancient times, opal has been considered the most precious of precious stones – he declared – as it includes the entire spectrum of colors present in all the others.” With a selection of fifty jewels and works of art, the exhibition aimed to connect and set up a dialogue between the craft of jewelsmithing and contemporary art, giving rise to a real experiential journey for the viewer. Mathieu Dekeukelaire said: “Flames of Opal Essence is a cross-cutting exhibition designed to be a journey of the senses and an aesthetic – and above all artistic – initiation.” Among the most fascinating works we were able to admire a bracelet with a medallion, made between approximately 1800 and 1850, a rare jewel since, as Thomas Faerber himself, Co-Founder of GemGenève, stated, “often shunned as a stone fraught with superstition and bad luck, opal was rarely used in jewelry before the nineteenth century.” In the Seventies, a decisive step was taken by Piaget, who decided to introduce opal into jewelry watches: some of these works were exhibited at GemGenève. “Flames of Opal Essence” was brought to life with the support of the Geneva Museum of Art History MAH and the following contributors: Piaget, Siu, Chris Price Opals, Emil Weis Opals, Ernst Färber, Faerber Collection, Imagem, Kreis Jewellery, Nicolas Torroni, Paul Fisher Inc., Michel Huelin, Brice Decque, Laurent Kariv, Jynx Productions Paris and Boris Chauviré of GeoGems.

The cultural projects dedicated to schools showed GemGenève’s strong belief in talent and new generations. “GemGenève is firmly committed to building authentic, sustainable relations with tomorrow’s designers and craftsmen and women, supporting them on a daily basis in the long term.” Mathieu Dekeukelaire presided over the GemGenève Awards ceremony, which paid homage to creativity through six awards for the talents of the future. The initiatives participating in the award ceremony were: the “Engagement Jewellery” project by GemGenève and Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) in partnership with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, “Photomicrography contest” by GemGenève, Saumur Jewellery Institute and Royal Belgian Gemmological Society, in partnership with gemologist Marine Bouvier, and finally “What’s your spirit animal?”, the project in collaboration with Donna Jewel arose from the desire to give voice to creativity, culture, and self-expression through the art of jewelry. The last initiative was promoted by GemGenève with the Artistic Direction of Laura Inghirami, and involved the students of Francesco Degni Institute of Torre del Greco, Jewelry Design course, and the students of the “High Technician for the Production of High-Quality Made in Italy goldsmith products – ITS” of the Galdus School of Milan, who celebrated the excellence of “Made in Italy” in Gemenève, representing the future of Italian art. The students were asked to respond to the brief focused on the relationship between man and animal, which has ancient origins and has transformed over the millennia, up until today. Animals have always been friends of man, faithful allies, and bearers of different symbolisms in various cultures. But what message are animals able to give in the world of jewelry today? The students responded by creating jewelry that reflected their interpretation of the contemporary world.  With over 1100 voters from 20 countries around the world, including Italy, France, Germany, the United States, and the UK, the winner was the student Annapia Liguoro of the Francesco Degni Institute with her creation “Never Kiss”. Her creation was inspired by the frog, a symbol of transformation, luck, regeneration, and growth.

Culture and attention to others also emerged from the rich program of conferences, starting with the speech by Lucia Silvestri in conversation with Amanda Triossi, who spoke of “harmony” as an inspiration for beauty in the creations of Maison Bulgari. Numerous questions were asked by the public, especially from young women who asked her for career advice, to which Lucia Silvestri responded by underlining three key words: “passion, determination, and sacrifice”.

GemGenève also hosted the Strong & Precious Art Foundation for the fifth time, with its “Beyond Time” exhibition, which aimed to celebrate Ukrainian artistic heritage, particularly in the field of jewelry. The exhibition was inspired by Trypillian culture, relating to south-eastern Europe. Those who belonged to this culture were dedicated to agriculture and were committed to following very particular rituals; the jewels were often made of red and orange ceramic and were characterized by curvilinear designs.

We also took part in a workshop at the Gem Museum in Singapore in which we created a work made on canvas with oil colors and gems. During the fair, the Gem Museum in Singapore also exhibited a canvas that became a true collective work: anyone, in fact, could express themselves by contributing to the painting which was finally transformed under the skilled hands of Janet Hyun, internationally acclaimed artist, known for the dynamic live painting performances. This work embodied the spirit of collaboration and unique energy of GemGenève.

An interesting project this year was dedicated to designers from Armenia, and presented by AJA (Armenian Jewellers Association). Armenia’s rich cultural heritage is an unlimited source of inspiration for designers and we had the opportunity to meet several artists: Aytemnik Avetikyan, whose jewels, such as the ring inspired by Armenian ornaments, are true witnesses of her love for her native land and culture; Louis Balian who pays homage to the Armenian cultural heritage through several pieces such as the iconic “Blood Legacy” jewel, made of rose gold and black rhodium embellished with rubies and spinels; Vahe Zartarian, who contributes with pride and determination to the legacy of Armenian craftsmanship with creations such as “Heart-Shaped Emerald Ring”; Viken Boyodjian, whose passion for jewelry is deeply rooted in the Armenian tradition and is expressed through jewels such as “St Aigl’Or”, which represents an eagle, a symbol of strength, power, and majesty and is famously associated with the figure of Napoleon; Iren Isahakyan who stands out for a minimal and impactful design, as in the “Jewellery Box” necklace, inspired by the Armenian cultural heritage, and for her sustainability choices such as the use of recycled silver.

Enriched by this unique experience, we can’t wait to find out what the next edition of GemGenève has in store for us!