17 Nov GemGenève November 2022
The fifth edition of GemGenève, the international show founded in 2018 by Ronny Totah and Thomas Faerber, a reference point of excellence for the world of precious stones, ancient jewelry and contemporary jewelry design, has just ended. The show welcomed 3,543 visitors, an increase compared to previous editions, from more than 70 countries around the world. “This year – declared Ronny Totah – GemGenève has further established itself as an authority in international jewelry trading, becoming one of the most sought-after events of its kind.” “It’s been a great edition”, said Thomas Faerber. “We’ve had positive feedback from many of those taking part about the organisation, design, and layout of the exhibition.”
Also for this edition, we were impressed by the attention paid to visitors and exhibitors, the empathy of the GemGenève team towards their needs and the utmost care for every detail, which have ensured that the event has represented for everyone, first of all, an experience of human enrichment. And this is precisely the reason why GemGenève was founded: in the words of Nadège Totah, Exhibitor Relations Manager, “GemGenève is above all a human adventure.” “Our commitment – said Ronny Totah – is aimed at creating a stimulating and positive environment for everyone, from exhibitors to visitors. Our priority is their happiness.”
GemGenève represents a universe of values. And culture was the protagonist also in this edition. In fact, among the 176 exhibitors present at the fair, there were also many projects aimed at enhancing knowledge, creativity, craftsmanship, and experimentation. As every year, the great attention to the human aspect has also resulted in the enhancement of education and young students. Among the schools present at the show, HEAD Genève, one of the leading schools of Art and Design in Europe, which exhibited the jewels made for the graduation projects of the students Pauline Hepner, Emilie Gouëzec, Maya Puna and Meret Walther, and CREA Genève, leading educational establishment in the areas of Marketing, Communication, Digital, Web Development and Applications, and Artistic Direction, which proposed to the students to manage the CREA EYES Instagram account by creating and editing digital contents directly at the fair. “It is a great opportunity for us students to participate in GemGenève and discover all the news and behind-the-scenes of the industry”, said Meva, a student of Luxury Marketing at CREA.
The students of 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) also participated in the show. They were asked to work on a piece of jewelry both through traditional technical production and group work on drawings and wax carvings, under the supervision of ASMEBI (Association Romande des Métiers de la Bijouterie). From the interview with the students emerged a strong passion for the work bench, as it allows them to translate their ideas into a wearable object. The three schools also took part in the contest Concours de Gouaché in collaboration with ASMEBI and SSEF (Swiss Gemmological Institute). On the first day of the fair, the competition theme for May 2023 was announced: “Nothing is lost, […] Everything is transformed” (Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier). The contest will put the students to the test by proposing to imagine a bijoux or parure project inspired by the theme and present it through an illustration created using the ancient technique of gouaché. Precious stones received by the students from the exhibitors as inspirations for their projects will be placed on their works. Emmanuelle Garcia-Gavillet, Vice President of ASMEBI and Professor at CFP Arts Genève, proudly showed us the project in the name of her commitment to enhancing excellence.
Therefore, education is at the heart of GemGenève’s philosophy. It starts from the knowledge of the past, to arrive at the reinterpretation of the present and innovation. Richard Carbonnelle, Head of the Jewelry Department of CFP Arts Genève, showed us the jewels from the archives of the school, founded in 1876. Like the Liberty hat ornament, made in the school in the early 1900s, in the shape of a bird, on whose tail are mounted citrines and amethysts. Or like the clock made by a student for the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation 60 years ago, when they proposed to the school to organize a watch design competition. The collection of these archives is an inspiring heritage for students, who draw creative ideas from the school’s history to give life to new and unique projects.
And if tradition and knowledge of history are fundamental for the culture of GemGenève, it is not surprising that one great protagonist of the fair was this edition Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation, the independent organization based in Geneva that aims to spread authentic knowledge of the artistic activity of Carl Fabergé and his descendants, bringing together as many works and publications related to the family as possible. “Our mission – declared President Bernard Ivaldi – is to preserve the artistic and cultural heritage of Carl Fabergé and his descendants, and make it known more and more to the public.” To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Foundation, the Fabulous Carl Fabergé exhibition was staged which displayed more than one hundred and thirty creations by Carl Fabergé, including three imperial eggs, two of which were unveiled for the first time to the public in GemGenève. “The first of the three imperial eggs – explained Bernard Ivaldi – is called The Bouquet of Yellow Lilies and dates back to 1893. It was a gift from Emperor Alexander III of Russia to Johann Georg Mezger, the doctor who treated his daughter and wife, empress Maria Feodorovna, who were injured in the 1888 train disaster near the Borki station. The surprise inside the egg was a clock. It was exhibited in 1992 in Tsarskoye Selo in Russia, in 2000 in Wilmington, and in 2017 in the Swiss National Museum in Zürich. A series of controversial events dominated by commercial interests meant that the egg, published in the Foundation’s Magnum Opus in 2012, had not yet been included in the catalog raisonné published some time before. The second egg, Elizabeth Feodorovna Nephrite Egg, dating back to 1904, was a gift from Emperor Nicholas II to his aunt and sister-in-law, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna; the third egg, Tsarevich Egg, dating back to 1905, was a gift from Nicholas II to his son for his first birthday. Both of these works previously appeared in auction catalogs but had never been recognized as imperial eggs.”
The passion for excellence that has its roots in the past, and the vocation to give a voice to ancient craftsmanship and know-how so that these treasures are not lost, find perfect expression in the Micromosaics through the ages exhibition, organized on the initiative of Mathieu Dekeukelaire, Director of GemGenève, with the collaboration and support of the Faerber Collection, the G.Torroni SA collection, Vamgard, the Roman Site and Museum at Avenches in the person of its curator Sophie Bärtschi, Villa Boscéaz in the person of Yves Dubois, and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection in the person of its curator, Alice Minter (V&A Museum). The exhibition’s protagonist was the Micromosaic, a magnificent art already present in antiquity, which is becoming more and more contemporary in jewelry as a connection with an extremely fascinating tradition. The history of this technique was traced through the exhibition of fragments of Roman mosaics from the Avenches archaeological site (Switzerland), geometric motifs from one of the mosaics from the Villa Boscéaz site near Orbe (Switzerland), pieces of late 18th – early 19th century jewelry and micromosaics of the Grand Tour period. These were accompanied by some creations by the contemporary artist Maurizio Fioravanti, Co-Founder of Vamgard. “Cultural projects have been very successful – declares Mathieu Dekeukelaire – and we are happy about this. Culture has always been fundamental to us.”
The cultural richness of the show was also manifested through the collaboration with Grand Théâtre de Genève, which exhibited exceptional costumes from La Juive by Fromental Halévy, the first opera of the 2022/2023 season, made in the theater’s laboratory, including a magnificent cloak of the emperor, more than nineteen meters long, and the costume of Princess Eudoxie. The scene jewels made in the Grand Théâtre de Genève workshop, in particular in the “Déco Et Accessoires Costumes” department dedicated to jewelry were also shown. A unique experience in the deep soul of the opera.
Knowledge is for everyone. This is why GemGenève hosted The Gem Museum of Singapore which presented an exhibition of precious stones with workshops and demonstrations, a sensory experience intended for a wide audience regardless of age. All the activities were also aimed at children, to bring them closer to the wonderful world of stones and minerals. The young enthusiasts expressed their creativity by transforming stones into fantastic works and hunting for ornamental stones and minerals. They were also fascinated by the beauty of the stones illuminated by blue light in a completely dark room, capturing the most magical and surprising side of this world.
In GemGenève, past, present and future are inextricably linked in the name of art. Nadège Totah, in addition to being a fundamental point of reference for all exhibitors and excellent support for their every need, perfectly represents the philosophy of always looking to the future, researching and enhancing new talents. Under her leadership, GemGenève welcomed four “Emerging Talents” (Joaillerie Vincent Michel, Serendipity Jewelry, Wallis Hong, and YOURA Jewelry) and five “New Designers” (Sean Gilson, Leyser, Paola Brussino, Tenzo, and TOJI Jewelry) offering them the opportunity to present their creativity to a wide and international audience. Wallis Hong, one of the chosen talents, presented a creation that particularly caught our attention, the Ethereal Butterfly brooch, with which the artist goes beyond the normal boundaries of creation, merging art with the desire to bring the memory of the ancient tradition of jade craftsmanship, and combining it with contemporary design through the use of titanium and volumetric shapes.
Also for this edition, the journalist and jewelry historian Vivienne Becker, curator of the Vivarium Quartet space, brought a “mirror” of the contemporary world to GemGenève by selecting four of the most innovative designers on the international scene, evaluating their vision and mastery and the conceptual depth of their creations. The main inspirations of Philippe Lauras, one of the four talents of the Vivarium Quartet, are the bows and knots, as in the case of the Enchantée earrings, part of Falbala, his first collection, unveiled for the first time in GemGenève. Elena Okutova, Founder of Elena Okutova Jewellery, presented jewels inspired by “people, art, music, architecture, fabrics, especially ancient ones, and in particular relationships”. Like the Lotus Pod brooch, inspired by the Asian plant that the artist saw for the first time in Phuket, Thailand. “When the lotus seed moves it makes a characteristic and magical noise, as does the brooch I created”. Alexandra Jefford, designer, painter, and illustrator, investigates the contrast between shapes and colors and draws inspiration from nature, architecture, and the energy and meaning of stones, which she loves to combine with gold. The works of Alix Dumas, Founder of Maison Alix Dumas (or MAD Joaillerie), are a sophisticated explosion of light and color. “I want to create poetic and one-of-a-kind jewels that last over time and respect the planet and the resources it gives us.”
Gathering in the name of knowledge and beauty in GemGenève is, first of all, a responsibility towards the world. Because art and culture save. As demonstrated by the Art & Jewellery Conversations by Strong & Precious project, which featured a selection of ancient and contemporary jewels made by excellent Ukrainian artists. In order to give voice to a country that today faces a moment of profound difficulty, twentieth-century jewelry bearing the signature of Ukrainian artist Joseph Marchak, along with contemporary jewelry made by Ukrainian artists were displayed. Olga Oleksenko, curator of the project, showed us the jewels of designers such as Sergey Zhernov, Founder of Sergey Zhernov Art & Jewelry, who creates innovative and impactful jewels, and Inesa Kovalova, artist and Founder of the jewelry illustration school “Draw Me A Jewel”, which for her creations got the inspiration from an industrial and futurist aesthetic. Bright works of art, full of creativity and hope.
GemGenève is culture, creativity, innovation, and excellence. And the aspect that fascinates us the most about the fair is its ability to support and give voice to the younger generations. It was no surprise to meet at the fair many young students, artists, and entrepreneurs, who visited and experienced the show with passion, hope, and determination. Because GemGenève is a research center in which confidence in the future is real and concrete. And that’s why the young audience brought their precious dreams to GemGenève. What we hope for the future is that these dreams will continue to grow and travel higher and higher, crossing the world and bringing “joy and wonder”.